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Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat Paperback – April 1, 2011
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Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher (long enough ago that I'm embarrassed to admit it).
Review tagline: Deus ex Maquina: The Goats of War
The biggest drawback to Andrez Bergen's sci-fi-noir mystery Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat is that it relies on one of the mystery genre's most annoying artificial constructs: the repressed memory. Whenever I see repressed memory pop up as a plotline without some sort of external agent to facilitate memory loss (a fancy way of saying “you drugged your character, beat him about the head, or both”), it is always, and nakedly, a device that is used for the sole purpose of keeping the reader in the dark about a crucial piece of the plot. That might not be an awful thing were “repressed memory syndrome” an actual disease rather than something that got made up by opportunists during the Satanic Panic scare of the seventies and eighties (“repressed memory syndrome” was the main mechanism behind the bogus accusations against the McMartin workers and their families). It is not a real condition, but it has caused real harm. Please, authors, stop using it.
Which is bad, because after a rocky first twenty pages or so, Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat found its voice and kind of soared. It's noir, so there's nothing in here that's terribly unpredictable if you've read enough pulp noir or seen enough forties and fifties thrillers to have a basic grasp of noir plot structure, but it's not really about the destination, is it?
Scott Campbell's wonderful cover art does not prepare you for the trip that you are about to take.Read more ›
Our narrator, Floyd Maquina, is a Seeker. Employed by the government to hunt down so-called Deviants for what is euphemistically called "hospitalization," Floyd has the authority to terminate those who won't come along peacefully. It's something he's only had to do once, but that encounter weighs heavily on his mind, driving him to seek comfort in drugs, alcohol, and classic Hollywood films.
Indeed, Floyd peppers his narrative with copious references to films like The Maltese Falcon, The Third Man, The Big Sleep, and Brazil amongst others, and throws enough hardboiled slang around that a Tobacco-Stained Glossary and Encyclopedia Tobacciana are included as appendices.
With one foot planted firmly in a futuristic world where Seekers routinely undergo Matrix-like virtual reality "tests" to ensure they are still in the fold and capable of carrying out company orders, TSMG manages to simultaneously have its other foot rooted in an authentic, throwback, hardboiled detective vibe. And it is in that fuzzy blending of post-apocalyptic and old-school noir that TSMG carves out what is one of the most wonderfully unique books I've had the pleasure to read.Read more ›
Bergen has a writing style that you may either love or hate. For me I had to get used to him and then he started to grow on me. That happened when I read 100 Years of Vicissitude (read that one before I read TSMG). He first sounded like he was parodying the old clichéd detective stories narration. But the more I read him the more I thought he was just influenced by that stuff. Then I eventually got to like his style. He does credit Dashiell Hammett and others as influences. Anyway, if you're put off by his style you may want to hang in there because, by the end, you may be glad you stayed with it!
I really felt for Floyd in spite of his drunken existance. I hurt for him, I was angry for him, I was right along with him as he started to reach out for loved ones as they started slipping away, family and friends alike. I am fairly young and didn't find myself struggling to figure out the film references (but maybe I'm just a nerd, who knows?) and enjoyed the mixture of languages (which I also didn't need the reference guides for, but appreciated that they were there). The guides at the end were fun for me to read, because I felt Mr. Bergen was conscientious about his readers and wanted his story to be accessible to people of many cultures. I also liked that although the story was set in Australia, Australians weren't the only culture left on the planet.
Floyd is admirably tough and lovable, which takes some strength in a world where people get snatched away for no good reasons thanks to corporate greed and politics. He manages to pull himself from a helpless position in his world to a position of power to try and save people he cares about as well as society in general... at least, whatever's left of it, soggy with acid rain and scarred by stuggling to grow in a dying world.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a quick read and a written in an entertaining prose. It has elements of 1984 buried in it, but is a truly original story. I really enjoyed the main protagonist. Read morePublished 16 months ago by M Golding
Dystopia has never been so jaunty and wisecracking! This is quick-paced fun that will make you think of various different stories. Read morePublished on March 19, 2014 by Mets6986
Somewhere between dystopian sci fi and a detective novel. Helps to be a film buff with all the references. Very funny and a little touching.Published on February 3, 2013 by MariSue
Despite the saying "never judge a book by its cover", I picked this book based entirely on the cover and the title. My gamble paid off! Read morePublished on December 4, 2012 by Ellie Rabbit
I'm not a movie buff or a literary aficionado, but I appreciate a good story and I love a good premise. Read morePublished on October 8, 2012 by Amy R. Biddle
As far as post-apocalyptic books go, I'm that reader who loved Stephen King's The Stand and the Dark Tower series. Read morePublished on July 10, 2012 by G. Brennan
Here's a sci-fi noir thriller from a very talented writer.
This is book is smart, filled with dark (and light) humor, and littered with cultural and media references... Read more
I've seen The Future and and it's ... Noir. Tobacco- stained noir at that.
Andrez Bergen's brilliant Tobacco-StainedMountain Goat is set in a Dystopian version of... Read more
I do not know anything about science fiction noir - beyond Riddley Scott's Blade Runner. I remember at the time, I actually tried to read Philip K. Read morePublished on May 30, 2012 by David J. Foster