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Apocalypse Now, Voyager

by Jay Russell

(Earthling Publications, $14, 86 pages, numbered paperback, 2004.)

Review by Gary Couzens

cover scanMarty Burns is a LA-based former child star turned amateur investigator into the weirder corners of the city, who has featured in previous Jay Russell stories and novels. In this new novel, a naked lady is hired as entertainment at a biker's birthday party. Suddenly, she's murdered, and Marty is captured, leading to a chase involving men and women who think they're dogs and a very old shaman, ending up in the culverts of the Los Angeles River ...

Apocalypse Now, Voyager (a rather meaningless title, beyond its obvious movie references) is a fast-moving and very slick novella, with engaging cynical narration from Marty, a cluster of very strange characters, an impeccably attention-grabbing opening sentence and plenty of pace. Unfortunately it seems very slight and does a quick fade from the memory almost as soon as you finish reading it. I had to read it a second time to remember it well enough to review it. Literary fast food.

Earthling's edition has artwork by J.K. Potter, an introduction by Paul McAuley and an afterword by Jay Russell. It is limited to 400 paperbacks, signed by Russell. There was also a run of fifteen lettered, handmade and slipcased hardcovers, signed by Russell, McAuley and Potter, but it's sold out as I write this.

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