Gods Don’t Need Sex Tapes to be Popular in ‘Smoking Mirror Blues’ (Book Review)

tezcatlipocaWhat would happen if the Aztec god of trickery Tezcatlipoca were to appear in our world? How would he gain power? By going viral of course. This is the premise of the novel Smoking Mirror Blues, written by Ernest Hogan.

Set in Los Angeles, the story begins when Chicano virtual reality game designer Beto Orozco uses bio-nanochip technology to revolutionize religion and bring an AI god to life. He appropriates this technology created by Mexican friend Xochitl Echaurren, originally for use in belief system research. Things go terribly wrong in Beto’s weird science experiment and he winds up possessed by Tezcatlipoca. Meanwhile in Mexico, Xochitl is hounded by monotheist fanatics due to her god-creating program.

During the ‘Dead Daze’ celebration, where permissiveness and violence are the norm and the mediasphere is always watching, Tezcatlipoca or ‘Smokey’ as he is nicknamed, finds fertile ground to begin his reign of chaos. Smokey topples a gang leader, and as the gang’s new boss, he has direct access to its corporate sponsors. In this world, corporations have adopted gangs and integrated them into LA society. Previously the gang’s main job was to patrol their turf for people who didn’t have their sponsors’ latest apparel- a type of aggressive Fashion Police. With Smokey at their head, the gang members become unwitting minions of a malicious god. The gang helps Smokey gain followers for his hypnotic music and personality cult, while hopped up on the drug of choice ‘Fun.’ ‘Smoking Mirror Blues’ is the name of Tezcatlipoca’s hypnotic song set to dominate the world via mediasphere.

Besides AI technology, the author presents a future LA where races are mixed and celebrated. The author calls it a ‘recombocultural trimili world’. You can easily switch races and alter your appearance through cosmetic technology. Other interesting technologies in the book are robotic guard dogs, a Toshiba sonic immobilizer, and a tranquilizer-infused ‘Peace Foam’ used for crowd control.

Ultimately the story is about how Smokey manipulates peoples’ desires and the media to gain power. The book Smoking Mirror Blues, just like Tezcatlipoca, is a bit chaotic. It constantly shifts from one point of view to the next, even of secondary characters. The style is literary shaky cam. Some people might like this, but I must admit that shaky cam makes me nauseous. There are also constant plot interruptions: hallucinations, news station coverage, explicit sex scenes, detailed travel time, and the monotheist cult’s surveillance. I would have preferred a more focused story. Still, I enjoyed the futuristic technology and the idea of an Aztec god running amok in modern times. Also, Smoking Mirror Blues really brings the diversity in terms of ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation of the characters.

UPDATE August 8, 2010: There is a great interview with Ernest Hogan over at ‘La Bloga’ about his background and other works.

4 Comments

Filed under Books

4 responses to “Gods Don’t Need Sex Tapes to be Popular in ‘Smoking Mirror Blues’ (Book Review)

  1. “Literary shaky cam” . . . I like it, think I’ll use it — not at catchy as “psychedelic prose,” but exploitable. Sorry about the nausea, but the future — when not censored for general audience tends to be that way. Thanks for helping keep Tezcatlipoca alive and well and living online. Viva SciFi Latino!

    • Ooh, yes I like ‘psychedelic prose.’ And I didn’t get nausea literally from reading the book (as opposed to movies using shaky cam). I just wish the narrative had stayed in each place or on characters longer than it did. Some people I know love shaky cam and a fast-paced story. I can handle it for brief periods but not the whole way. My brain needs to rest! Gods I sound old… :P

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  2. With this review, Tezcatlipoca surely will gain more power…

  3. Hello there, simply turned into aware of your blog thru Google, and found that it is really informative. I?m gonna watch out for brussels. I will appreciate if you continue this in future. A lot of other folks will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

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