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The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad
Minister Faust
Del Rey, 531 pages

The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad
Minister Faust
Minister Faust (aka Malcolm Azania) is an Edmonton public school teacher, union activist, novelist, community organizer and public broadcaster (CJSR and CBC). He has taught English and Social Studies in Edmonton junior and senior high schools since 1994, most recently at Harry Ainlay Composite High.

Minister Faust Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Greg L. Johnson

Hamza should have been a contender. Actually, he should have been an academic with a degree and a writing career but something went wrong. Now he washes dishes at ShabbadabbaDoo's and is one-half of the Coyote Kings. The other half is Yehat, a should-have-been brilliant engineer who instead works as a video store clerk. The Coyote Kings are into classic and media SF, African music and videos. They are Good Guys in their Edmonton, Alberta neighborhood. And when a woman appears in the neighborhood, a beautiful woman who knows how to answer when handed a line from Star Wars, Hamza is smitten and Yehat knows that they're both in trouble.

Minister Faust has written what is undoubtedly the most fun, entertaining novel of this year in science fiction. It's a long novel, and Faust takes his time getting into the story, devoting his time instead to getting us well acquainted with these characters and their lives. Then when the whole thing hits with a story of drugs, murder, revenge, and an age-old conspiracy theory involving ancient knowledge and lost civilizations, you care enough about Hamza, Yehat, and their friends to get totally swept up in what happens to them, without stopping to notice just how silly some of it is.

While the story in The Coyote Kings may be a less-than-serious pastiche of much that is sci-fi, the language of the novel is anything but. Faust writes in a lively, musical style that is full of the rhythm and rhymes of the street. It's a gushing style where three or four words are always preferable to one or two, and the author brilliantly varies the style to match the viewpoint of each new character as they are introduced. Immersed in references to pop culture, the words jump out at you with a joyfulness that springs from the best of the hip-hop, afro-beat, rhythm-and-blues world that Hamza and Yehat inhabit. Not that the book is all goodness and light, there is violence, and when the violence hits it is all the more shocking and intense for intruding into a world that had until that moment been such fun.

And fun is the operative word here. There isn't much else in recent SF to compare this to, in some ways The Coyote Kings reads like a main-stream novel written for obsessed insiders. It's Faust's entertaining outlook and gift for language that makes it all work, and makes The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad the most enjoyable novel of the year. Read it as soon as you can.

Copyright © 2004 by Greg L. Johnson

Reviewer Greg L. Johnson has come to the realisation that there's obviously more going on in Edmonton than hockey. His reviews also appear in the The New York Review of Science Fiction.

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