Sunday, March 12, 2006

Book: Prayers For The Assassin, by Robert Ferrigno (2006)

Nobody can accuse Ferrigno, author of dark SoCal crime fiction, of thinking small. His latest novel is set in 2040, decades after a series of terrorist attacks has torn the United States asunder. Most of the country now lies within two camps: the Bible Belt, driven onward by Christian soldiers, and the Muslim Republic of America. Ferrigno’s novel is set in the latter, depicting a country that has been turned inside out and yet remains strangely familiar.

The plot, fairly standard thriller stuff, pales in comparison to the setting; it lacks the ingenuity that George Alec Effinger brought to his Budayeen stories, which also depict an Islam-centric future. Ferrigno, a master of tough-guy wisecracks, allows that dialogue to crop up here in ways that are occasionally jarring. And a few aspects of his new world are hard to swallow.

But the book is lethally well-paced, and Ferrigno has a keen understanding of the ways that devout religious belief can inform one’s view of life and the world. Plus, he regularly lobs in features of the future America – like San Francisco’s rebirth as a fundamentalist redoubt nicknamed Sharia City, or the fate of Mount Rushmore – that are chillingly perfect.

In the book, Seattle is the Muslim Republic’s capitol, and the new White House is located a stone’s throw from Chez K. There’s a Trader Joe’s there now. Serves them right for their decision to stop stocking the cream soda that Tod Goldberg got me hooked on.

Trailer: Larry The Cable Guy, Health Inspector (2006)

This preview succeeds where others have failed, in that it has me wanting to know more. Like: Is he a cable guy or a health inspector? Can a man be both?