The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad Paperback – Aug 3 2004
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What do Edmonton, D&D, cannibalism, Star Wars, comic books, ancient African mythology, black culture, drugs, organic food, magic, and television shows have in common? They all play important roles in The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, a zany, stylish, and fun novel that blasts the boredom and drabness out of CanLit like a sneak photon torpedo salvo. Coyote Kings, the debut by Edmonton writer, teacher, and radio host Minister Faust, has a large cast of characters but mainly follows two roommates--Hamza, a former graduate student who's been reduced to working as a dishwasher, and Yehat, a video store clerk who invents insane gadgets in his spare time. They're stuck in a rut of self-pity and going nowhere real slow when a mysterious woman shows up and seduces Hamza by quoting his favourite comics and sci-fi films. (The only problem: she may not be human.) Before long, the three are caught up in a quest for a magic artifact, but they're not the only ones. Arrayed against them is a wide assortment of characters--including an old romantic rival of Hamza's, drug dealers who peddle a mystical high, and a former CFL player with aspirations of immortality--all with their own plans for the artifact. The action takes the cast through the streets of Edmonton and to Drumheller, where an ancient, startling secret is revealed.
The originality of the plot of Coyote Kings is only half the appeal of the book. It's also strong on characterization--the story is told entirely in first person, from the perspectives of all the major players involved--and culturally hip without being pretentious. For instance, the characters are introduced with D&D-style character sheets listing their vital stats--Hamza's alignment is "SF (general), ST (original series), SW, Marvel, Alan Moore +79." You can't help but appreciate style like this, even if you're not a geek. But if you are a geek, it doesn't get any better than Coyote Kings. --Peter Darbyshire
From Publishers Weekly
Black Canadian media personality Faust blends pop culture, Egyptology, SF and gaming in his clever and often amusing gonzo debut. Hamza and Yehat, slackers, roommates and soul brothers (aka the Coyote Kings), work respectively as a dishwasher and a video-store clerk, but Hamza also writes poetry and Ye invents things. When Hamza meets the beautiful, mysterious Sherem, even love can't blind him to her oddness. She, along with Hamza and Ye's old pals Kev and Heinz, is searching for a jar with inexplicable properties. The Coyote Kings find themselves on the side of the ancient House of the Jackal, charged with keeping the artifact safe, or at least out of the hands of Kev and Heinz. Hamza has a skill the bad guys want to literally eat his brain to get, and only he may have what it takes to find the artifact. The dense writing, the ponderings on the nature of reality and a complex plot that all comes together at the end (if thanks to long inserts that finally provide background and context) will remind some readers of Neal Stephenson. If Faust isn't yet Stephenson's equal as a stylist, he nonetheless represents a sharp-edged new voice in the genre.
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Top Customer Reviews
If anything, I would call this book -- aside from a quirky, comic, eloquent and very interesting bit of weird fiction -- a very clear specimen of "Geek Literature." There are so many geek popular culture references to Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, comics and many other fantasy and science fiction media that they in themselves say something about the vibrant spirit of this work. What really caught my eye -- or "made it for me" as a "geek reader" : as a long time lover of role-playing games, fantasy adventure, and science-fiction interests is the fact that each character in this story has his or her own Dungeons and Dragons style character sheet. Indeed, the very first quote that starts off this entire story itself is one from Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars.
The characters themselves are very human and have very human motivations and "geek interests." The former University and English BA student Hamza, the inventor Yehat, the enigmatic warrior Sherem and even the villains of the story all have unique personalities and parallels to geek literature. It really helps that many of the popular cultural references and literary ones are also traits in their primary character sheets.
Another element I really liked about Coyote Kings is how Minister Faust incorporates Black, African and Egyptian culture, and music, and even some aspects of Islam into the background of these characters.Read more ›
The story involves an ancient religion, an eons-long quest, magical beings and the human emotions of fear, jealousy, and sadness.
I will be looking forward to seeing the next book by this writer.
Mythology and pop culture blends almost seamlessly. If you enjoy novels like Gaiman's "American Gods", definitely give "Coyote Kings" a try!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The plot more or less starts rolling when Hamza meets, and is smitten by Sherem, a mysterious woman who has apparently been studying archeology for the last ten years and has just returned to Edmonton. It just so happens she likes all the right comic books, can quote Star Wars, is a pop culture twin of Hamza's, and just happens to be stunningly beautiful. Meanwhile, we are also shown how Hamza and Yehat's former childhood friends (and D&D gaming buddies) now operate an upscale imported furnishings boutique (Modeous Zokolo, ha ha ha), and are both chic and wealthy. Behind the scenes, it seems the Meaneys are somehow involved with an exceedingly potent drug called "Creme". The third group to enter the story is the gang that controls the creme trade in "E-Town", a comic-bookish set of flunkies called "The Fanboys" whose boss is Dulles Allen (ha ha again) a brutal and shrewd ex-CFL player turned club owner.
Once all the players are in place, it is revealed that the Meaneys and Allen are in a race to acquire an ancient artifact called a zodiascope, which, when used in conjunction with creme, will somehow enable the owner/user to control the world. At this point, the book starts descending into a disappointing mess of hocus-pocus involving ancient Egyptian mythology, and save-the-world tropes lifted from the most banal fantasy/sci-fi. Here, the D&D influence is regrettably in evidence, as some Norse stuff is mixed in, and Hamza and Yehat even end up in a tomb crawl. Faust spends so much time busting inside jokes for geeks and gamers, that when he tries to turn the plot in a serious direction, it doesn't work. The book unfolds in brief chapters written from the first-person perspective of various characters, many of whom have distinctive voices (Hamza's rat-a-tat freeflowing thoughts, Yehat's orderly lists and tangential asides, one of the Meaneys' superciliousness, Alpha-Cat's Caribbean patois, and so forth).
There are elements to like, such as the constant riffing on geek pop culture, or Faust's truly remarkable wordplay. In terms of style, the inventive prose has a lot to offer, and it comes as no surprise that he's a champion slam poet. The relationship between Hamza and Yehat is very nicely handled, as Faust captures all the ups and downs of a close friendship with precision, and isn't afraid to show the love between the two young men. The constant namechecking of Afropop legends is pretty cool, and it's does give a neat portrait of multicultural Edmonton. However, the overall sloppiness of the story and shaggy-dog plot makes it less than essential reading. It's also disappointing that for all the book's posturing about treating "sisters" with respect and all, love-interest Sherem is such a geek's fantasy (Star Wars quoter plus hot bod!). It kind of comes across a a dis -- if you're a girl with geek interests you have to be hot too, otherwise there's no room for you in our story! Anyway, if you've got the time and patience to wade through 500+ pages, you'll probably find something to like amidst all the chaos.
the characters are extremely refreshing for a science fiction novel, and knowing the target audience all the in-jokes and tip of the hat references to geekdom will leave you laughing out loud, while your uninitiated friends will just shake their heads silently at your new found depths of nerdiness. i was also pleasantly surprised by the characters unabashed affection for each other, it came over as very genuine and a trait severely lacking in science fiction.
the author employs a first person narrative that switches from character to character. in an interesting change of pace he doesn't hold your hand through this change and make it immediately obvious who's speaking, as you begin to get comfortable with characters you start to recognize the "voice". though at times you have to go back and re-read the first couple of pages of each chapter as it can take a while to cotton on to which character is talking. it isn't always successful, but the only time this character switch fails totally is when alpha-cat takes over and the author chooses to write phonetically the character's jamaican accent. it is frustrating to read and knocks you completely out of the narrative as you focus on comprehending the words and not the story. fortunately other than a couple of small chapters, alpha cat's dialog is limited to a few sprinkled throughout the book.
my only other complaint is the last act which had two major problems. there is essentially a rehash of the fight between the two main protagonists (yehat and hamza), with the same conclusion. it was redundant and out of character considering how the initial fight concluded. i also found the ambiguous ending, was too ambiguous without enough information to really come to a conclusion. there were also some pretty loose ends that were never tied up. i suppose that those could be set-ups for a sequel, which the author does hint at, but doesn't seem to have enough set-up to really make me desperate to read the further adventures of hamza and yehat.
still the characters, the very easy to read, cheeky prose, the interesting little details on african culture more than make up for the few small complaints.
"Coyote Kings" is tremendously flawed, but also has more than a few moments of brilliance. When I finally got to the end and read the acknowledgments, where Faust mentions the "Coyote Kings" screenplay workshop and video shoot, and then read in his author's biography that he's a prolific broadcaster, the puzzle of this book started to make sense to me. The book reads like it was meant to be spoken; the pages of dialogue that are almost impossible to read would make sense to hear. The incessant shifting of POV is a real detriment in a book, but would make for very interesting video. Essentially, "Coyote Kings" would make an amazing movie or radio play. But as a book, almost all of its appeal is lost in translation.