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Codename Prague (Scikungfi Trilogy Book 2) Kindle Edition
|Length: 201 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top customer reviews
Codename Prague is an absurdist cyberpunk spy thriller, emphasis on the absurd. I'm kind of at a loss to describe what actually happened and I'm not sure whether I liked it or not. There were parts where the wordplay made me snicker like a psychopath and I loved all the obscure pulp culture references. The idea of people crossing the Atlantic via catapult was nicely done. The technology was so over the top that it was awesome.
So what wasn't I crazy about? Most of the characters were incredibly flat. I think Dr. Teufeldrockh was the only one I had any attachment to. About halfway through the book, the wordplay became so thick that the whole book threatened to go off the rails at any moment. There were a few times that I wondered if I'd gone insane and the book was completely normal.
To sum up, Codename Prague had its moments and I loved parts of it but it was no Dr. Identity and not my cup of tea.
After killing Nowhere Man Prague gets promoted and goes on a mission where he sees body doubles of famous people I really got lost a lot but kept on reading for laughs that Wilson always dishes out.
Codename Prague is a spy story about the greatest agent living in this world, Vincent "Codename" Prague. He's such a great secret agent that he's completely famous, thus negating the need for secrecy. And since this is a spy story, he has to be sent on a dangerous mission, and so it is that Prague is sent via transcontinental slingshot to the city of Prague and surrounded by people also named Prague. As if that weren't absurd enough, the mission itself is to basically see what happens. It's an ultra-important assignment that exposes Codename Prague to high levels of danger, systematic torture, revolting levels of bureaucracy, and a potential arch-nemesis in the form of a mad scientist with a newborn monster.
Wilson's writing doesn't just have a grasp of language. It has a death grip on it, and combined with his ideas of future society, what you're left with is an action packed skewering of culture, capitalism, and technology. There's a futuristic rendition of "Cats". There are fight scenes with Bruce Lee clones. Hell, there are clones of EVERYBODY. Like all of Wilson's fiction, this one's a trippy exercise in strangeness and style, written by a sociopath who's read a metric ton of cyberpunk. It's an amusement park of ultraviolent insanity that, much like the ideas behind cyberpunk, might just come true someday.
Set in the near future and yet with many hark-backs to fifties detective genre, there is mild horror, science fiction and much humour on every page. Consider some examples: `The detectives were barely perceptible beneath the thick swathes of gore that caked them from fedora to flat feet.' And the whole of Chapter 06 reflecting on Prague's time in jail: `"Eighty-six, eighty-seven, eighty-eight, eighty-nine, nrrrrrrr..."
He trailed off. He hadn't been counting long. But there was nothing else to do. He grew bored of the count quicker than desired or anticipated. How long had he been incarcerated here? No more than a few hours. Maybe just a few minutes. Now what could he do?
This is what happened next: eighteen years passed...'
There are notions in the novel that paint the protagonist and his milieu in certain lights. For example he often encounters German names and language. Who can't be fascinated by the way Germans accrete words so much a single word can't fit over a doorway. Eg Wütendeswissenschaftlermunster (mad scientist monster) - five times on one page! Brilliant. The guttural feel of the German voice is echoed in actions and clothing. Methinks D. Harlan Wilson, or at least his characters, lean in fashion towards Deutch Erwache regalia - or Nazi chic Sturmabteiling attire, in Prague's words.
A touch of SF is spiced through such as when Prague finds his shoelaces undone and he orders them to do themselves up. Weirdness can be equally relished in such descriptions as of a bell-hop's sister, whose breasts are filled with low-sodium peanut butter and `her hips swung like a pendulum as she walked'. I've been looking at the rear of women in a new way since I read that. Wonder if it'll wear off? Hope not.
Chapter 29 carries an editorial note that it should be deleted or the chapter should be the whole book. I can understand why - it is the epitome of bizarro - a long draught of `spenpalatine ganglionneuralgia (Margarita brain freeze) beautifully crafted.
The novel is full of stimulating one-liners - you don't drown in a puddle of True Romance and there is even a sentence thus ". . . . . . . . . . ." ie full of itself. Such self-referential sentences, worthy of Douglas Hofstadter, pervades this book. There's even a graphic chapter - chapter 48. I have to quote: `A man's shadow elected to cast the man...' Even the chapter numbers reach into decimal points then to negatives to the consternation of the narrator. Don't worry, there is a surprise at the end. You'd think a bizarro novel, where the joy is more in the reading than the plot, would not have a `proper' ending but you'd be wrong. A denouement unfolds with exposition guaranteed, but whether you'll agree with it is up to you. Like other books, once you've paid for it, and read it, then it belongs to you not the author.
My congratulations to D. Harlan Wilson for an entertaining, head-hurting flamboyance called Codename Prague."
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