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Kalifornia: A Novel

Kalifornia: A Novel

by Marc Laidlaw

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With a breakneck pace and a wonk's sense of humor, Laidlaw ( Neon Lotus ) neatly satirizes our postmodern society in this wild, almost hallucinatory novel. In the future U.S.A. that is the book's setting, flat-screen entertainment has evolved into full virtual-reality experience; stars are ``wired'' to transmit from their senses directly to their worshipful audiences, who are themselves wired to receive more channels than a cable box. The Figueroas were the nation's favorite wire family before tragedy shattered their show; now only Poppy, the elder Figueroa daughter, remains on the air with her own production. During the taping of an episode to mark the bicentennial of California's statehood, her newborn child Calafia is kidnapped, and when all else fails it falls to Poppy's hitherto aimless brother Sandy to venture into the quarantined ``Holy City' to rescue the baby--who, as the first person to be born wired, may have powers that neither Poppy nor Sandy expects. Laidlaw plays fast and loose with his premises, but it works: we're never quite sure how much of a wire star's life is shown, where the line between reality and fantasy is drawn, if it exists at all. Laidlaw's future is far from believable, but as a satirical extrapolation from our media-saturated times, the narrative drives its points home. A quick, enjoyable romp full of surprising twists and enlivened by an incisive wit. (Feb.)
Library Journal
It is 2050, and television audiences are now wired to receive every thought and sensation from their favorite Hollywood icons. As California celebrates its bicentennial, Poppy Figueroa, popular TV personality/sender, is giving birth to the first electronic baby, a birth shared by millions of viewers/receivers. When the infant is kidnapped minutes after the birth, Poppy and her brother Sandy, also a sender, begin a wild hunt through the nightmarish wonderland of the future to find the child before its electronic nature can be manipulated by religious and political factions to control the world. A plot summary cannot do justice to this dark, imaginative satire on our obsessions with television and pop culture. Funny, frightening, and immensely enjoyable, the story has more twists than the electronic wires themselves. This excellent novel by the author of Dad's Nuke ( LJ 2/15/86) and Neon Lotus (Bantam, 1988) belongs in all popular and sf collections.-- Eric W. Johnson, Teikyo Post Univ. Lib., Waterbury, Ct.
Elliott Swanson
Laidlaw's new novel projects a ubiquitous entertainment industry that offers total immersion through "wired" connections to the mind. The story opens with the star of a movie called "Poppy on the Run" giving birth to Califia, the first hard-wired baby, while a pair of murderous, genetically mutated dogs try to find them. Not only do the film "viewers" get to watch Poppy give birth, they also are able to feel what is happening through her physical senses. (Time to change channels, honey.) The thriller-style plot involving kidnapping and political intrigue chugs right along, and the characterizations keep pace, but the book is primarily notable for its setting and for the satirical speculations it offers about the quality of life in a high-tech environment. Laidlaw's previous work, "Neon Lotus" (1988), was a contender for the Philip K. Dick Award.

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St. Martin's Press
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1st ed

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