Berkeley, California in the mid nineteen seventies is boiling over with rebellion, conflict, and insanity?the Patty Hearst kidnapping; the drugged-out, brain damaged zombies; the Zodiac and Zebra killers, nightly Vietnam War protests; open gunfights between the police and the Black Panthers. Some of the crazies even swear that they had false memory implants, mind locks that blocked out half their brains, imposed by a galactic police state.
Berkeley, California in the mid nineteen seventies is boiling over with rebellion, conflict, and insanity…the Patty Hearst kidnapping; the drugged-out, brain damaged zombies; the Zodiac and Zebra killers, nightly Vietnam War protests; open gunfights between the police and the Black Panthers. Some of the crazies even swear that they had false memory implants, mind locks that blocked out half their brains, imposed by a galactic police state.
Amidst this turmoil, Dorothy Thomas is a graduate student at Berkeley, abused as a child by her uncle, unloved by her parents, and the victim of a lab accident that destroyed half her face, who is on the verge of suicide when she is kidnapped by two psychotic killers who force her to dress in a red leather body suit and declare her Rita the Red, leader of the last two galactic rebellions, for whom millions have died and rivers of blood (not all red) have flowed.
Rita the Red blends the atmosphere of the rebellious Berkeley with the far more real and greater conflict taking place in the galaxy. Dorothy, like many abused women, feels powerless, hopeless and depressed, a second class person; but by the end of the novel she discovers herself to be a maimed, but strong Rita the Red, leader of a galactic rebellion. Of course, with the strange assortment of characters, the pro-civil rights, con-man Shark; the nutty Albino, whom the Beatles left behind; the early success, early flop French perfume executive, Pierre (Rita's love interest); Rita’s clones, Rita 1, 2 and "the bitch"; and Rita’s best friend Jenny (an AI) who’s picked up a southern twang from listening to too much country music, there is plenty of emotional flux, romance, humor and action to lift this novel clear into outer space.
There are some terrific sequences in this...the description of the characters on the bus is delightfully funny and rings oh-so-true. But the strongest aspect of the excerpt is the lead character. Dorothy, who obviously isn't in Kansas any longer, is a wonderful character with whom the reader relates at once. The author provides just enough detail to let us imagine the rest; that's a wise choice and it works well.
Imagine that somewhere in the world there exists two amazingly gifted authors who write genre fiction of every variety: science fiction, horror, fantasy, Westerns, thrillers, historical fiction...eschewing efforts to win Pulitzer or Nobel Prizes for literature, or big book contracts like Stephen has thrown into his face all the time, and other such nonsense...eschewing all of these in order to deliver to their readers highly unpredictable, completely enjoyable and satisfying (while at the same time, somewhat sad and forlorn, Carson McCullers kind of crap) novels of the quality and quantity that discerning readers have only dreamt about.
We are not those authors.
However, we, Emem and Jael, are writers of renown, and we are attempting to at least approximate the above credentials. We write books because they come to us as nightmares: like creatures that fly in the night and prey about those foolish enough to wander the streets, or we dream about dying many deaths, or zombies attack our gas stations and break through the windows and we have to spray them with the hose and set fire to the whole place, losing our franchise with the petroleum company...and our only way of releasing ourselves for these horrors is to pass them on to you; or we have movies playing in our head over and over until finally we write them down, and then these thoughts play over and over on the pages for as long as paper holds ink and words have meaning. We are those authors...and the pages of our books represent our humble contribution to your edification and enjoyment. Feed your brain...and forget about those two ideal writers, they never existed and they never will...and their stuff would probably be crap, anyway.