Steampunk, New Weird, Bizarro, Scifi, Fantasy Book Group discussion

Buddy Reads 2016 > Taboogasm/Bizarro Buddy Read Nov 2016

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message 1: by Rick (new)

Rick (rwestbrock) | 628 comments Mod
Now that I have had time to read & digest this book I wanted to lead a buddy/group read for anyone who is interested. I think two weeks is enough time for people to get the book (if they don't already own it) so let's begin the discussion on Thursday 11/17/2016.

The book isn't all that long so I think most people should be able to finish it in less than two weeks. In order to prevent spoilers I will post a rough schedule later today so that people can discuss before completing the entire book if they so choose. Let's plan on completing the book by 11/27 so feel free to post spoilers starting then, it would be polite to include a page or chapter reference so that anyone who hasn't been able to finish the book yet by then can skip over your comment.

message 2: by Rick (new)

Rick (rwestbrock) | 628 comments Mod
Incoming! I have been working with the author and he has graciously offered to make the Kindle version of the book available at a 76% discount ($0.99) on Amazon from 1am PST on 11/13 through 11pm PST on 11/17.

Not to worry, Gregor won't be participating in our discussion during the read (since he does have a biased opinion after all) but I did ask him to answer questions after our discussion end date of 11/27 has passed.

message 3: by Jammin Jenny (new)

Jammin Jenny (jamminjenny) | 24 comments I'm in.

message 4: by Jane (new)

Jane I am not sure this is a genre for me and I do not usually take part in buddy reads but I will join this one anyway.

message 5: by Rick (new)

Rick (rwestbrock) | 628 comments Mod
Any specific concerns about Bizarro in general or this book in particular Jane?

If anyone is on the fence I will also mention that Gregor's contribution to the Bad Apples: Five Slices of Halloween Horror "The Riggle Twins" was great (my review is at ).

message 6: by Jane (new)

Jane No, not at all. Just don't think I have read any. I love reading Fantasy, think Steampunk and Scifi are interesting and read some of that but I don't think I have ever read any New Weird or Bizarro.

message 7: by Bob (new)

Bob Szesnat (BobSzesnat) | 2 comments Hi. I started reading this too. What do you mean by a buddy read? I just haven't heard that term before.

message 8: by Rick (last edited Nov 19, 2016 01:44PM) (new)

Rick (rwestbrock) | 628 comments Mod
Thanks for participating! Usually we do a formal group read every quarter where we vote on which book to read. We all start at the same time and comment about the book as we go along.

Buddy Reads are more informal where any number of people can read a book at the same time but doesn't involve the voting. Feel fee to post questions or comments in this thread at any time. Please use the spoiler tag for anything that needs it since we may jot all have read as far as you at the time but after a week (starting 11/24) we should expect that most people have finished the book.

Tomorrow I can post a few talking points to get things going. You might take a look at a couple of previous buddy read threads to see how they work in general.

message 9: by Rick (new)

Rick (rwestbrock) | 628 comments Mod
Talking Point #1
What do you think of Bill as a character so far? Is he relatable, engaging, annoying?

message 10: by Bob (new)

Bob Szesnat (BobSzesnat) | 2 comments I found him(Bill) more on the annoying side. I didn't like his one lines and found it hard to relate to him.
The story he goes through are strange/unusual and I would be snarky too. Though I never thought "yea Bill you're gonna get it now" or routing for him to get through the story. I saw him more like a window that we the reader gets to see this bizarre world the writer has created?

This is really the first bizarro book I have read. I just wanted to try it. I really don't know how the main character are portrayed in these types of books.

message 11: by Rick (new)

Rick (rwestbrock) | 628 comments Mod
I think every book is different, just like many other genres. Sometimes the narrator can be sympathetic, sometimes quite the opposite. I have read some books where the narrator goes from one to the other over the course of the story. Not all bizarro is told in the first person, either.

Personally I thought he let the money go to his head and he became a jerkwad for the most part, at least for the first part of the story. I am not sure how far everyone is so I don't want to fo into too much detail.

message 12: by Jane (last edited Nov 24, 2016 12:20AM) (new)

Jane I agree with more annoying than anything else. It felt like he didn't really care about other people and that continued when he won the money. It seemed like he liked to screw with peoples heads just because he could.
I don't like Bill.

message 13: by Janie (new)

Janie C. Is this buddy read still going on? I'd like to join in if it is...

message 14: by Rick (new)

Rick (rwestbrock) | 628 comments Mod
It sure is! We have just gotten started as a matter of fact. We are trying to minimize spoilers but in a couple of days I think we will really get going as people have time to make some good progress.

message 15: by Janie (new)

Janie C. Great - I'll get started asap!

message 16: by Rick (new)

Rick (rwestbrock) | 628 comments Mod
It has been two weeks, has anyone finished the book yet? I am ready to post more talking points but don't want them to be spoilers.

message 17: by Janie (new)

Janie C. Yes! I finished it a few days ago, and I loved it.

message 18: by Jane (new)

Jane I have also finished it, and I did not like it :-)

message 19: by Rick (new)

Rick (rwestbrock) | 628 comments Mod
This was the first book I have read in quite a long time where I definitely saw three distinct acts. Was anyone else consciously aware of that?

Janie: Was there anything in particular you liked?

Jane, anything in particular you didn't like? Sorry you didn'tlike this one but thanks for giving it a shot.

message 20: by Janie (new)

Janie C. Rick, I enjoyed the sheer outlandishless of the book. It was creative, disgusting and funny. I hadn't given any thought to the progression of the book through stages. I can think of a couple of scenarios right off the bat:

"Ordinary" human wins money - human interacts with strange beings - man goes to space.


Man meets alien - alien destroyed - alien reborn.

message 21: by Jane (new)

Jane I have read Sci Fi before and don't mind the alien interacts with human but there were too much sex in it for me. I did wonder at the "gasm" in the title but looking at both the blurb and at the main shelves it didn't seem as it was going to be like that.

Also, it might have been on purpose from the author, but I didn't like any of the characters in the book.

Is all bizarro like this?

message 22: by Rick (new)

Rick (rwestbrock) | 628 comments Mod
personally I have found that most bizarro has more (and freakier) sex than other genres.

I need to find my notes on how I saw the three acts but spatially it was Earth, then interstellar transit and the last one escapes me at the moment.

message 23: by Janie (new)

Janie C. Escape pod transit?

message 24: by Rick (new)

Rick (rwestbrock) | 628 comments Mod
Yes! I felt like it kind of fot into Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey also except he didn't bring back anything for humanity in the third act.

message 25: by Janie (new)

Janie C. I'm not familiar with Hero's Journey, but it looks interesting.

message 26: by Rick (new)

Rick (rwestbrock) | 628 comments Mod
I should have been more detailed, The Hero's Journey is a concept introduced by Joseph Campbell in The Hero With a Thousand Faces in 1949. Here's a good quote from page 23:

"A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man."

I realize that Taboogasm isn't a perfect fit to The Hero's Journey but I thought it was close enough to make the comparison meaningful. Bill's transformation from regular schlub into super-wealthy schlub within the first chapter was a fun intro to the character but not relevant to The Hero's Journey (hereafter THJ for short).

I am still composing my detailed thoughts on how Taboogasm fits THJ but wanted to post the background for everyone to think about until I post again later today. I don't know that the author had this in mind while writing but it's a fun comparison to make as an intellectual exercise. According to Campbell's monomyth it may have been in Gregor's subconscious though.

message 27: by Janie (new)

Janie C. This is a thought-provoking comparison. Also, it's been a very long time since I've heard the word "schlub."

I'm not sure that Bill ever gets to the points of Atonement or Return. I'm not even sure that he transforms. But Jake transforms and returns.

message 28: by Rick (new)

Rick (rwestbrock) | 628 comments Mod
It definitely isn't an exact fit but I felt like there were enough similiarities to look into it further. I had written up the below offline before I saw your response Janie. I was going to see how many of the 17 elements fit this story.

I have to admit that while I was thinking of the classic three act structure while reading the book I didn't connect it to The Hero's Journey until I was researching how the three acts are structured. I am ashamed to say that even though I recognized Bubo on the invitation as an owl before I saw the image on the next page I didn't make the connection to Athena and Perseus until today. This is evidence that maybe Gregor did have THJ in mind at least a little bit as Zeus asked Athena to send her owl Bubo with Perseus on his journey. Many of you will likely recognize this incarnation of Bubo (with Harry Hamlin):

Younger readers may be more familiar with this later version (which looks surprisingly similar for being nearly 30 years newer:

Anyway back from that slight tangent Campbell's three acts are broken down into 17 discrete elements and there are several which fit Taboogasm rather well.

Act I
Supernatural Aid: technically this occurs after the Call to Adventure and the Refusal of the Call but I think The Grey can fit here. I loved the art on page 35, too.

message 29: by Jammin Jenny (new)

Jammin Jenny (jamminjenny) | 24 comments I definitely found the book interesting...I did not like him at first but enjoyed the journey he went on after winning the money.

message 30: by Janie (new)

Janie C. Rick wrote: "It definitely isn't an exact fit but I felt like there were enough similiarities to look into it further. I had written up the below offline before I saw your response Janie. I was going to see how..."

I liked the drawing on page 20 of bubo bubo. I had no idea that this was a reference to the owl in The Hero's Journey. Rick, have you asked the author of Taboogasm if he had THJ in mind when he wrote his book?

message 31: by Rick (new)

Rick (rwestbrock) | 628 comments Mod
I haven't asked him anything specific,I can ping him to see jf he would like to comment.

Next on the list are Crossing the Threshold and Belly of the Whale, I feel like those are pretty easy to spot.

Act II - Initiation
The Meeting with the Goddess sounds like it fits the scene when Bill sees Randi as the Queen of Space City but the details don't actually match.

Apotheosis seems to fit Bill's escape in the sleep tank fairly well.

This is where the steict parallels to THJ break down, even the Apotheosis mentioned above actually happens at the very end of the book. Even so I think the associations were interesting enough to explore.

message 32: by Janie (new)

Janie C. I never would have come up with the analogy that you put together. It's a unique view, and you did a great job with it. I think it would be interesting to find out what the author thinks.

message 33: by Rick (new)

Rick (rwestbrock) | 628 comments Mod
Please post any questions for Gregor as I have asked him to join the discussion. Feel free to continue our ongoing discussion as well.

message 34: by Janie (new)

Janie C. Gregor is here? Now I can't think of anything to say. I'm stressing.

message 35: by Gregor (new)

Gregor Xane (GregorXane) | 73 comments Hey, everyone, thanks for taking the time to read Taboogasm, and thank you Rick for hosting the Buddy Read.

I'll answer any questions asked of me. Let me start with "Did I have The Hero's Journey in mind when I wrote Taboogasm?"

No, I didn't. I didn't have any structure in mind when I wrote this one. I didn't outline or know how I wanted it to end. It was all improve. However, I had read Joseph Campbell years before I wrote this and was familiar with the concept of The Hero's Journey. Any parallels could be either blamed on that foreknowledge or the theory that this particular story pattern is just part of our collective unconscious and it's bound to find its way into our stories without any effort on our part.

But what about Bubo? The owl, for the purposes of this story, represents two things:

1) It's a nod to the giant owl shrine that is central to a performance at Bohemian Grove (site for an annual gathering of world elites) called the Cremation of Care.

2) The owl is a recurring symbol found in the lore surrounding alien abduction, especially stories concerning the aliens known as Greys.

message 36: by Janie (new)

Janie C. YES! I remember the significance of the owl now. Gregor, on the cover of the book there is a man jumping the whale (not the shark). What is the significance of the whale?

message 37: by Gregor (new)

Gregor Xane (GregorXane) | 73 comments Janie wrote: "YES! I remember the significance of the owl now. Gregor, on the cover of the book there is a man jumping the whale (not the shark). What is the significance of the whale?"

That's a scene from Randi's favorite film, Taboogasm, a tragic love story. If you look closely, the man is not alone on that motorcycle.

message 38: by Janie (new)

Janie C. I just referenced the scene in my book. Is it too late to withdraw my question? In my defense, I have a terrible memory.

message 39: by Gregor (new)

Gregor Xane (GregorXane) | 73 comments Janie wrote: "I just referenced the scene in my book. Is it too late to withdraw my question? In my defense, I have a terrible memory."

Ha! No problem.

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Steampunk, New Weird, Bizarro, Scifi, Fantasy...

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Books mentioned in this topic

Bad Apples: Five Slices of Halloween Horror (other topics)
The Hero With a Thousand Faces (other topics)