Seth's Reviews > Atomik Aztex

Atomik Aztex by Sesshu Foster
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's review
May 29, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: couldnt-finish, science-fiction, sf-f-h
Recommended to Seth by: Employee recommendation at Staceys Books, San Francisco
Recommended for: Sadly, no one.

Sadly, this book is probably really fun. The conceit--an alternate world where Aztec ("Aztek" in the book) magic not only repulsed the Spaniards but led to Aztec world domination--coupled with a world-spanning plot bringing our protag back and forth to our world (where he works at a meat-packing plant killing cattle all day) sounds like great fun.

Unfortunately, someone convinced the author that telling the Aztek part of the story--which is the bulk of the story, at least as far as I got--in four- to seven-page paragraphs with no clear cues to the reader as to pacing or thought train (and no way to bookmark!) was a good idea. Clearly, the editor fell down on the job; it was his or her job, and the job of the members of the writers' workshop and the publications that printed portions of the book before it came out, all thanked in the frontmatter, to talk Sesshu Foster down from trying to be James Joyce at the expense of helping readers experience his or her world.

The writing in those unreadable blocks isn't bad. The characters are developed slowly, if at all, but this isn't a character-driven story. Or plot-driven, for that matter. The frontmatter also haughtily suggests that readers looking for a plot should go elsewhere; clearly they don't deserve Foster's vision. But auctorial excess is both one of the prices and one of the rewards of reading. The milieu story is a good read. I especially find myself wondering how the relationship between the two worlds--and their separate kinds of sacrifices--would pan out.

Unfortunately, I don't have the time or the energy to read the rest. I don't want to fight a book to enjoy it. And unlike Joyce, the words themselves don't transport me sufficiently to draw me along.

I'm glad I saw an in-store employee recommendation for this book and I want to see another by Foster, but I won't buy it until I've spent some time with it in the store. I regret wasting enough time that I'm simply teased by it but I don't resent the shelf space I'll give it.

Well, not too much.
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