by Kurt Baumeister
A book review by weird speculative fiction writer Ted Fauster
Any fan of weird, parallel-world fiction and political intrigue needs to read this book right now. What a goddamn roller coaster ride.
Baumeister’s debut novel begins smack dab in the gooey center of a world dominated by US right-wing politics, which is itself stapled to the bleached-white bones of a good ol’ fashioned evangelical infrastructure. For those falling in lockstep, life is good in America. Some might say it’s even great. Regardless, special agents still have to be special agents, even when they’re required to rescue a bleeding-heart wetware engineer who may have just created the AI alternative to God.
PAX is rife with saccharinistic pseudo patriotism, delivered through the shiny, gritted teeth of one of America’s most dyed-in-the-wool secret agents, Tuck Squires. Tuck and his less-than-sinless associate Ken Clarion endeavor to track down the whereabouts of Dr. Diana Scorsi, the developer of the savioresque Symmetra, even as a looming war with Iran threatens to yank back the curtain on everything.
Baumeister is a master of the English language, comedic timing and wit. Fans of crispy sarcasm and snark will not be disappointed, as won’t connoisseurs of the weird. I don’t think the weird aspect of this novel is being talked about nearly enough. It’s truly transcendent. I’ll even go as far as to compare it to the likes of the great Kris Saknussemm. Yeah, I said that.
With impeccable pacing, bone-whittling wit, flash and glamour, intrigue, and just overall balls-out style, PAX AMERICANA ranks high on one of my favorite dystopian+alternate-universe+weird+political reads.