||Dec 19, 2011
A satire/spoof of the fiction/fantasy genre. Just think Game of Thrones with more sex, violence, and humor.
The world of Fantastica is an enchanted magical land with politically social upheaval and racial divide. Two close friends, Shit and Dope, both of whom are from different origins and backgrounds, break the law of the land for partaking in the weeklong Pigshit festival. This special festival held annually for the peaceful common people and forest beasts that reside outside of the great city is disrupted by a military dispatch of cavalry troops dealing justice in the name of the cat emperor/demigod deity who has always ruled his provincial lands with an oppressive iron paw. This sets off the intricate chain of events that leads to the two friends being separated, and to individually embark on different paths of destiny. One is captured and taken into custody to be tried in a royal court of law. When the verdict is a life of servitude as a slave within the emperor’s palace, he eventually escapes with the help of a talking rat, and then risks being recaptured because of an unlikely newfound infatuation. The other goes on the cliché of the QUEST with some other misfit friends to gather an army from the outlying unruled territories to take on the emperor's military might & eternal reign. But first, he has to climb this massive mountain full of peril to attain a mysterious ancient power within a magically air suspended floating temple. This is FANTASTICA, the dark new age parody/satire/spoof series of the fiction/fantasy genre like no other before or after.
Victorio Velasquez, author of "Fantastica: Volume I," claims that his book is a dark new age parody/satire/spoof of the fiction/fantasy genre, and that it is like "no other before or after." So, does the book hold up to this boast? And, if so, are those qualities worth boasting about? After all, there's an awful lot of great fantasy out there by authors playing it straight.
We have two heroes in "Fantastica" and their names -- Shit and Dope -- reflect their respective characters, at least initially. We meet Dope -- a human -- when he attends a festival, riding on a filthy wild boar. He manages to crash into a mead-booth tended by a young peasant girl with an acne-riddled face, big lips, rotting yellow teeth and matted hair. It is love at first scent. Shit, whose role is that of the traditional hero/philosopher in classic quest literature, is warty and reptilian, with scaly skin, dog ears, and pupil-less silver eyes. He is agile and combative with a brain that cannot entertain more than one thought at a time. Of course the mainstay of a quest is not really the elusive "holy grail," but the change in the hero's character as he struggles toward manhood. These guys obviously need a little help from their friends, and the cast extends to talking rats, rainbow colored dragons, mentors and shamans, and the usual skulking ogres, giants and beasts. Needless to say, the dialogue is not riveting, and no one ever bathes.
What is not usual about "Fantastica" is that it harks back to the fantasy of a different time, most particularly to that of Rabelais, but also to the work of the English satirist, Jonathan Swift. Such writing is often called "carnival grotesque," in that it is blatantly ribald, crude, bawdy. (No surprise that Jack Black was cast in the last "Gulliver" movie.) Social and political satire were the underlying concerns of these writers, and they used defecation, flatulence, and slovenly sex to parody the society of their age.
These are the concerns and means of Victorio Velasquez. "Fantastica" could certainly use proofreading, but it is a rollicking tale that poses (rather than pedantically answers) social and political questions in what turns out to be an old, and now revived, literary tradition.
Bookreview.com rates this first volume of "Fantastica" very good and looks forward to an excellent Volume II.
Victorio A. Velasquez has potential but needs some honing. The story is about two characters who leave town for an illegal festival. Dope’s parental figures come and shut it down and drag him back to town to be punished. Dope is severely punished and sentenced to become a slave. Shit, who was not captured, reconnects with Kit who is his love interest. The two of them together are killing machines. Two trolls give Shit and Kit a compass. A rat helps Dope escape from slavery. Dope falls in love with a girl that he tries to rescue while the evil cat emperor Louie is making life hell for people. I was confused about what happened to Dope because the character disappeared from the story about half way through.
Shit and Kit along with some other characters start to make their way back to the city. Shit seems to have some strange powers that are developing along the way. They meet their old friend Sambo. He seems to be a mentor to Shit and Kit. There are lots of graphic fights and the ending leaves it open to the next story.
I give the author credit that he wrote a short novel and he can tell a story, it just needs refining. He has good imagination and the novel reads almost like a video game.
REVIEW BY HENRY BAUM
Fantastica, by Victorio Velasquez is not a serious novel. If you sit down to read it and you want your mind to be blown away by a touching story, this is not the novel for you. If you are looking for something to make you laugh and to help you forget about the real world, then this may be the right fit.
Before I summarize the novel I would like to state that this story is meant to be silly. Velasquez is poking fun at fantasy novels and about the world we live in today. He goes out of his way to be outrageous and shocking. Without knowing this, you may be turned off by his writing.
Fantastica is a magical land that is under the rule of an evil emperor, Louie, who is an orange tabby cat god who has lived for over 2000 eons. His empire is plagued with political, social, and racial divisions. And Louie, sticking to his cat instincts and desires, does not care as long as he is fed his favorite foods and petted.
Shit and Dope are two friends who repeatedly get into mischief. Shit is an outcast who is not only rude, but ugly. The author writes, “his overall demonic appearance of warty reptilian scaly skin, pupil-less silver eyes that glowed in the dark, disheveled black hair, peculiar doggy ears, along with his offensively rude obnoxious behavior in the presence of the cat god’s imperial court eventually made him an outcast from the social élite that had the privilege to speak to the cat god on a regular basis.”
Shit, however, has some good friends, including Dope, who make his life interesting. Dope’s family is part of the imperial court. And his friendship with Shit is dangerous. This does not deter Dope from attending Shit’s annual week long Pigshit festival. The festival is a time for the ordinary people and beasts that live outside the city to celebrate and to relax. However, the festival is interrupted by the military and the two friends are separated.
Dope is arrested by the military and has to stand trial in front of the emperor. He’s sentenced to become a slave. Yet, keeping to the fantasy formula, he is able to elude his fate with the aid of some friends, including talking rats and birds. Breaking with the fantasy genre, the author sidetracks Dope by having him fall in love with an ugly woman. This love threatens Dope’s freedom.
Shit escapes arrest and sets off on a quest to seek the power to take down the emperor. His journey includes many trials and tribulations, but with some unexpected twists. Will he succeed and make it in time to rescue his friends from the wicked Louie?
As I said before, this is not a novel to be taken seriously. If you are expecting to have your socks blown off by riveting descriptions of a new fantasy world I would advise you to look elsewhere. The author wants to surprise the reader. He says in his description that all of the dialogue “reads like bad acting in 70s/80s era B movies, Old English dubbed Kung Fu flicks, and dubbed Japanime from the 80's and 90's.” For example, Joe, the talking rat, says to Dope, “Look, homeboy… I've only known you for less than a week, and it doesn't take much to let me know that your jonesing for a woman after days of being cooped up with us magically talking sewer rats.” If you are in the mood for silliness than you may enjoy Fantastica. Life can’t always be serious now can it? I once heard that novels like this are like candy for the brain. A little bit of sugar to soothe an overworked person can be a perfect way to unwind and to remember to laugh. Velasquez shows promise and I would like to see some of his writing after an editor has worked his or her magic. Fantastica is the first volume and I’m curious about the continuation of the series.
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