Strange Horizons, 18 October 2004

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"Prisoners of Uqbaristan" by Chris Nakashima-Brown

"Prisoners of Uqbaristan" by Chris Nakashima-Brown propels the strange in Strange Horizons beyond the ionosphere.  A group of media jammers work for "Task Force Loki, the government's interdisciplinary SWAT tem in the global culture war."   They troll old video libraries and the net in an Orwellian cat-and-mouse game of history modification where no one recognizes the truth from heresy.  The hero travels to the local bookstore, to South America, then to a dream factory, all after lunch at Hooters where the food has improved "since they merged with the International House of Pancakes."

The story has some clever American twentieth century media references, all twisted and reworked into unique combinations.  From old episodes of The Love Boat where Jorge Luis Borges appears as himself, to Romulan warbirds patrolling the night sky after a coup in Argentina, the author took me on a magical and mysterious tour of his bent psyche.  But with hundreds of colliding references, the story contained too many disjoint elements that weren't developed enough to engage me beyond a superficial reading. 

In his bio, Nakashima-Brown's prose is described as post-Gibsonian, and I concur.  But where Gibson focuses his lens, Nakashima-Brown yanks back on the focus, painting his world with a paint gun, not a fine brush.  If you're in the mood for a roller coaster ride through cyberspace, check out this tale.