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Smoking Mirror Blues
Wordcraft of Oregon paperback $12
review by Steven Hampton
Remember Larry Cohen's monster movie, Q - The Winged Serpent? Well, the source of that monster tale, Quetzalcóatl, had a brother named Tezcatlipoca, a trickster warrior god brought to life here by VR games designer Beto - who's fascinated by Aztec mythology, and has stolen a special nano-chip to simulate his favourite deity in the media-sphere of 21st century L.A. More than just Chicano cyberpunk, Smoking Mirror Blues is an eclectic fusion of genres and tropes including demonic possession, private investigation, mass brainwashing, and alternative romance. Imagine a scenario like Strange Days crossed with elements of Angel Heart and Repo Man where a multicultural version of Halloween known as Dead Daze results in a Mardi Gras weekend holiday that requires National Guard troops to prevent rioting.
Into this hubbub of hi-tech jungle music, slaphappy drugs, street parties on Hollywood and Vine, and global media noise, comes Smokey Espejo, the flesh 'n' boner incarnation of Tezcatlipoca - who wants to conquer the world by hypnotic suggestion. Taking control of some corporate hoods (that just happen to have their own band), the unholy trinity of man, spirit and info-system, plot the conquest of humanity. He's opposed by hoodoo cyber-detectives, the jealous Amazonian lover of Beto's bi-sexual girlfriend, the Mexican lady inventor of that dangerous cloned god-simulating program, and the shadowy agents of a paranoid Christian militia. Place your bets now!
Offering rabid snakebite satire on American futurism - with street thugs incorporated into the capitalist system (wearing sponsorship logos like gang colours), a public licensed to kill known criminals on sight, and a US president hiding secrets about his racial heritage - Smoking Mirror Blues won't quite blow your mind, but it will set your brain alight with a ferocious deluge of startling recombinant ethnicity, savage and sage humour, imploding postmillennial imagery, and bloodthirsty action heroics.
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