Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning - Review by Tom Powers

Yet another fine review from my friend and colleague, Tom Powers:

Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning (Mythos Media 2007) is the type of revolutionary fiction that may inspire you to take a visionary road-trip across the South-West searching for the America you’ve only heard about in rock ‘n roll songs or saw while under the hallucinatory influence of some illicit substance and/or the works of Philip K. Dick, Thomas Pynchon, Hunter S. Thompson, and comics instigator Grant Morrison. An impressive hybrid of words, illustrations, photography, pseudo-interviews, and one well-drawn comic strip, Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning’s storytelling both entertains and educates. The latter may immediately turn off the “I’ll learn when I’m in school, thank you very much” crowd, but author James Curcio is by no means preachy when he shares with you his knowledge of philosophical concepts. The author, after all, who holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Bard College, is creatively applying his education to his fiction. Not to digress, but it is not very often that we see a writer effectively reap the fruits of a liberal arts education through the lens of prose as Curcio successfully has done with a confident understanding that intelligent ideas, both classical and contemporary, still have a voice and meaning applicable to perhaps the last undiluted and uncensored of print mediums – the novel.

In terms of clearly drawn narrative lines between hero and villain, Curcio does not, thank goodness, offer easy, predictable answers. Instead, he intricately crafts an atmosphere of intrigue and paranoia via secret governmental agents who are unclear as to the identity of their true masters and ex-asylum inmates, rock stars Babalon, who are on the road as they head toward a literally explosive gig. Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning is also not afraid to transgress boundaries as it challenges our assumptions of morality, sexuality, and nationalism. If all of those facets have not yet intrigued you, however, the character of Lilith herself, the enigmatic, consummate seductress and lead singer of Babalon, will justify the time you devote to consuming this rewarding read.

Then there’s Curcio’s dialogue – sharp and cracking – the perfect complement to his lyrical prose, philosophical ruminations, and innate understanding of what drives the essence of the American dream – our shared love of its sometimes-alien landscape, which exists geographically across its states and internally within all of us who chase that dream and continuously struggle to grasp its ever-shifting definition.

For lovers of wild sci-fi, intriguing concepts, not to mention sex, drugs, guns, and rock ‘n roll, Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning, accordingly, is the apropos new-millennium text that will awaken the sleeping counter-culture beast within.

Order Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning

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