Thursday, April 13, 2023


Norman Spinrad has been a standout in the speculative fiction field since the New Wave days. I’m not talking the pop music trend of the late 1970s. This was earlier, going back to the antediluvian 1960s, around the same time as the French New Wave cinema movement, which was similar, but coming from a different place (remind me to discuss Jean Luc Godard some other time). His Bug Jack Barron is a classic in the spec fic subgenre of deconstructing contemporary reality in an attempt to discover a new kind of future. Keep your corporate escapism, kids, my idea of real fun is to see the big, scary world out there torn apart and made into something outrageous yet plausible.

Spinrad’s The People’s Police is that kind of novel.

It keeps on surprising and is outrageous in a way we just don't see enough these days when you’re not supposed to offend anybody. I was expecting a grim assessment of our world in the days of Defund the Police, but I should have known, after all, this is Norman Spinrad.

It’s set in a futuristic (and a different kind of futurism) post-Apocalyptic/Katrina New Orleans. Yeah, there's some dystopian social commentary, there's also . . . fun! Voodoo and Mardi Gras in the mix make a difference. 

I yearn for science fiction that makes you want to get up and dance. It doesn’t seem to be out there. I’ve come close in my writing, but still haven’t succeeded. The People’s Police comes pretty damn close to being this Holy Grail, not just the subject matter, but the style. The good old New Wave never rocked like this.

Did I say that it’s a whole lot of fun?

I was also impressed with the Voodoo. He did some research and came up with a fresh take on it. I won’t get into the details here, you should get the book and read it yourself.

Maybe the loas got in there, too. There's also good reason for the New York publishers to be afraid. It’s dangerous in a way some don’t think is possible in these times.

It is possible, and we need it. Keep it up, Norman.

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