From Publishers Weekly
This sophomore effort from economics editor Slattery (Spaceman Blues
) is a heavy-handed fable of a near-future America fallen into economic and social chaos. Marco Angelo Oliveira breaks out of prison, determined to rejoin the Slick Six, his family of supercriminals. He meets stiff opposition from the Aardvark, a mob boss who now runs New York City. Meanwhile, the nation has fragmented into squabbling regions, from the New Dominion of Virginia to the New Sioux of the plains; like Marco's gang, they see little reason to reunite. Complex secondary characters such as mob lawyer Jeannette Winderhoek and the less-feted members of the Slick Six somewhat balance the heavily stereotyped Marco and the Aardvark, adding vital color to this glacially slow, backstory-laden tale. (Oct.)
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Slattery presents a hallucinatory vision of the end of America caused not by the usual sf culprits—disease, war, aliens—but by an entirely plausible economic collapse. What happens, he posits, when you lose the “laws and regulations but leave the capitalism”? The past returns with a vengeance, that’s what. Land is for the grabbing again, slavery reemerges, and Indians rise to reclaim their heritage. Notorious criminal the Aardvark, recognizing the opportunities in the slave trade, invests early and builds an empire, ruling from his Manhattan tower. Opposing him are the Slick Six, international criminals led by Marco, who intends a revolution out of which America can be reborn. Marco’s odyssey through a wasted America is full of legendary characters and strange sights, from the murdering circus of Cyclone Cal to the traveling home of the hippie Americoids. Slattery’s story is like a vivid dream with startlingly lucid moments, and his prose has the cadence of a spoken-word poet. He affords a kind of revelation about how history informs us as individuals and as a country. --Krista Hutley