cover image The Big Red Herring

The Big Red Herring

Andrew Farkas. Kernpunkt, $16.99 trade paper (366p) ISBN 978-1-7323251-3-5

Farkas (Sunsphere) gleefully blends disparate elements—among them Nazi spacecraft, baseball, and broadcast radio—into a bizarro, metafictional alternate history. In Farkas’s reimagining of contemporary America, a stately palace in Area 51 hosts a murder mystery reality TV show, dispatches from the Alternate History Channel interrupt scenes to reveal the Nazi conquest of space during WWII, and Gestapo agents use a radio show to uncover the identity of a traitor who leaked the existence of Nazi flying saucers to the Soviets. Wallace Heath Orcuson (“WHO”) becomes the unfortunate target of their interrogation after a dead body turns up in his apartment. The subsequent radio conversations are orchestrated by Edward R. Murrow (but not the Edward R. Murrow), working from a doughnut shop whose clerk spends his shifts practicing his knuckleball pitch. Farkas leaves narrative convention lying dizzy on the floor, with prose that invokes Thomas Pynchon and Neal Stephenson, but the conspiracies that lace the story lack subtlety and nuance. Though Farkas’s cleverness occasionally veers into self-indulgence, readers will enjoy this humorous, high-energy romp. (Oct.)