Dead Boys

Richard Calder, Author
Richard Calder, Author St. Martin's Press $20.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-13957-5
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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Time and space collapse-and nearly pull narrative coherence into the void with them-in this audacious but sometimes impenetrable sequel to the praised Dead Girls (1995). The world of the 21st century is still governed by a ""pornocracy"" that ritually desexes ""dead girls,"" or women turned into vampiric ""dolls"" by a nanotech virus. There, Ignatz Zwakh, hero of the continuing saga, mourns his executed dead girl Primavera by pickling her extracted reproductive organs in a whiskey bottle. His perverse fascination has a purpose: from her future life on the planet Mars, Vanity, the daughter Ignatz will program from Primavera's residual wetware, is ""using her mother's ablated uterus as a transdimensional mailbox"" to guide her genesis. As the author cross-cuts from Ignatz's decadent adventures in Thailand to Vanity's efforts to elude a dead boy bounty hunter, identities blur and timescapes blend into one another. At the heart of the novel lies a critique of Western capitalism and sexual politics, of how they dehumanize and homogenize all they touch. But it is often difficult to see this point for the prose. Calder's penchant for allusive wordplay redolent with references to B-movies and other SF stories produces scintillating dialogue, but it deteriorates into obfuscatory self-indulgence when characters are left alone to ruminate on their fates, or on the universe's entropic decline. (Mar.)
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