My long awaited bookreviewPosted: July 6, 2005
I was supposed to get this out a week ago. I’ve already finished two other books and am working on a third. This still remains so far the best book I’ve read this year so I owe it some publicity.
“The Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad” is the first published work by black Canadian radio personality Minister Faust. You’ll find a link to his blog on the right. I first came across this book while reading Nalo Hopkinson’s blog a while back. I kept meaning to pick it up but then school started up and left me with almost no time for anything else. This summer, my local Borders had it on display so I scooped it up and was sucked in straight away. Of course with recommendations by Sheree Thomas, Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes and Nalo Hopkinson I really should have expected that.
The plot is basically about the coyote kings, two friends named Hamza and Yehat. Yehat is an engineering genius who builds remarkable inventions as a hobby and yet works as a video store clerk. Hamza is a brilliant writer who got kicked out of college just shy of his english degree and now works as a dishwasher. In their spare time they run a school of sorts for the kids in their extremely racially diverse neighborhood. They’re both damaged in their own ways, but they are always there for each other. Into this weird frindship comes Sherem, a mysterious woman who hamza immediately falls for and who leads them both through a wild and supremely entertaining adventure.
So…… what do I like about this book? Well for one, its written by a fanboy who isn’t ashamed to be a fanboy. Its chock full of references to Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, RPG’s, comics, De Niro movies and lots of other nerd pop culture icons. In addition to that, it unashamedly afrocentric in its focus and setting. As much as most SF fans would deny it, a vast majority of the genre is written with western perspective. This book is one of the few out there that considers things from a different cultural context altogether. Although I have slight issues with the focus on Egypt that tends to dominate popular afrocentric thought I still like the idea of other cultures getting a chance at the spotlight. Above all though, its just very well written and is one of the few books I’ve read recently that made me feel the emotions it was trying to convey. If for no other reason than that, its worth the money.
Sidenote: I was surprised to see that this wasn’t published by Warner Aspect (long stary. Anyone who was around during the ‘race and science fiction’ discussion on Steven Barnes’ blog knows what I’m talking about) Hopefully this means I can expect more mainstream recognition for black writers in the genre.