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Atomik Aztexby Sesshu Foster
2005 The Village Voice Best Book of the Year
2005 Winner of The Believer Magazine Book Award
Synopses & Reviews
A fantastical gonzo Aztlán mythology, where modern Aztecs and immigrant ghosts uncover blood sacrifice in Los Angeles.
In the alternate universe of this glitteringly surreal first novel, the Aztecs rule, having conquered the European invaders. Aztek warriors armed with automatic weapons and totemic powers, with the help of their Russian allies, are colonizing Europe. Human sacrifice is basic to economic growth.
Zenzontli, Keeper of the House of Darkness, dutifully delivers up his European victims and slaves for imperial sacrifice, but he?s plagued by nightmares of a parallel reality where American consumerism and materialism reign supreme. Ghosts of banished Aztek warriors emerge to haunt contemporary Los Angeles, which they equate with the Underworld, the Land of the Dead. Certain they/ he will never escape, Zenzontli is tormented by his visions of Hell: trapped in a job in an East L.A. meatpacking plant.
Atomik Aztex is a hilarious read, surprising and sometimes shocking. A potent satire of the New World Order, it is peppered with influences: from graphic novels to elements of Ishmael Reed?s Mumbo Jumbo, from the paranoia of Philip K. Dick and William Burroughs to the outrageous cyber-Aztlán mix of Guillermo Gómez-Peña. Overwrought and incandescent, this brilliantly absurd novel delivers a one-two rabbit punch, guaranteed to leave a reader gasping and snickering.
"Punk sci-fi and kitchen-sink realism create a startling, morally fraught vision in Foster's genre-straddling tour de force. In this codex of simultaneously existing alternate histories, the 'Azteks,' after defeating the Spanish, went on to conquer much of Europe, adding millions of hearts to the triumphant pyramids of sacrifice. Zenzontli, the narrator, is from a distinguished 'Aztek' family, but he is in obscure disgrace with the powers that be. As a Keeper of the House of Darkness, Zenzontli deals in European slaves, who are slaughtered to honor the gods, their hearts taken out and their bodies consumed. His role in that world corresponds with his role in the conventional one, where he works as a pig butcher in a slaughter house in Vernon, Calif. To complicate matters further, in the world of Aztek supremacy, Zenzontli has a Double, controlled by his lovely wife, Xiuhcaquitl. Zenzon must evade Max, his boss at Farmer John's, and Maxtla, his political foe in the Aztek world. It sounds completely unmanageable, but readers will be blown away by Foster's control over the material, the beautiful segues between worlds and the way in which the question 'what time is it?' accrues more and more weight. Brilliantly inventive, k-heavy spellings give Zenzon's voice totally unexpected tonalities." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Sesshu Foster is dangerous, 'ese!' The way a poet should be." Luis J. Rodriguez
"With Atomic Aztex, Foster slices through history....puts his finger here on a particular nexus of World War II-era racism, factory life and the landscape of Los Angeles and then claims it for his very own." Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times
"Atomik Aztex is hip, bloody, occasionally baffling and often piercingly brilliant." Cherie Parker, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"[A] book so heedlessly imaginative that it often seems ready to burst its pages like a comic-book POW....this is an ambitious, energetic, and fiercely intelligent novel." Emily Barton, Bookforum
"Foster's first novel...leaps fearlessly back and forth from 1940s Stalingrad, where an elite cadre of Aztec warriors is helping the Russians fend off invading Nazis, to 'the frenetic hustle of overcrowded Teknotitlan,' capital of the 'Aztek Socialist Imperium,' to the industrial back alleys of 'some 3rd-class city called Los Angeles.'' Ben Ehrenreich, The Village Voice
"A fine example of alternative fiction with a strong social theme; recommended." Library Journal
"Atomik Aztex combines Latin American magical realism with science-fiction for a story set in an alternate future. The Aztec empire has triumphed, running the world with ruthless, and psychotropically enhanced, efficiency." Elaine Wolff, San Antonio Current
"Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico in 1519; two years later, history tells us, the Aztec civilization fell to the Spanish invaders and was wiped out. Atomik Aztex, the hallucinatory first novel by poet Sesshu Foster, proposes a different reality." Carolyn Juris, San Francisco Chronicle
In the alternate universe of Sesshu Foster's glitteringly surreal first novel, the Aztecs have conquered the European invaders, launching into the world its own culture of totemic powers and blood sacrifices. Zenzontli, the Keeper of the House of Darkness, has fits and visions of a world where things are run by the Europeans, and where consumerism reigns supreme. Aztecs armed with fully automatic weapons and ancient totemic powers conquer and colonize 1940s Europe in Cinemascope and Technicolor, as ghosts of the 20th century world wars emerge from the Farmer John Meat Packing Plant to haunt a contemporary Los Angeles.
A fantastical gonzo Aztlan mythology, where modern Aztecs and immigrant ghosts uncover blood sacrifice in Los Angeles.
In the alternate universe of this glitteringly surreal first novel, the Aztecs rule, having conquered the European invaders. Zenzontli, Keeper of the House of Darkness, is visited by visions of a parallel world run by the Europeans, where consumerism reigns supreme. Aztecs armed with automatic weapons, totemic powers and blood sacrifice conquer and colonize 1940s Europe, as ghosts of the world wars emerge to haunt contemporary Los Angeles.
Atomik Aztex is a hilarious read. A potent concoction, with influences from graphic novels, along with Ishmael Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo, the paranoia of Philip K. Dick and William Burroughs, and an outrageous cyber-Aztlán mix reminiscent of Guillermo Gómez-Peña.
Sesshu Foster is the author of the critically acclaimed City Terrace Field Manual.
About the Author
Author of City Terrace Field Manual(Kaya Press, 1996), and Angry Days (West End Press, 1987), Sesshu Foster still teaches literature and composition in East L.A., where he grew up. His poetry has been published in numerous anthologies and journals, and he is a sought-after commentator on cultural issues and practices. This is his first novel.
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