by Christopher Verleger

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday November 2, 2007


Author Tom Bacchus' futuristic novel, Q-FAQ, is a satirical account of our world-to-be, if the Puritans continue to rise to power at their current rate and succeed at completely eliminating even the slightest trace of homosexuality from our planet.

The narrator, Afaik, is an openly gay and suspected Arab terrorist whose home is destroyed by rightwing federal agents, acting on behalf of the newly installed Puritan Party, who orchestrate acts of terror to rid society of undesirables. Afaik survives the attack, but finds himself at the mercy and servitude of Aces, a subversive crusader-of-sorts who is part-man, part-robot. And so begins their journey across the country, referred to as the Divided States of America, on a mysterious mission. The fact that Afaik is not privy to the details of this quest is seemingly irrelevant.

The novel itself is a journal-like account, from Afaik's point of view, of the bizarre, colorful creatures they encounter, the ludicrous situations they find themselves in, as well as blog and news excerpts from ongoing current events, which attempt to help both the reader and the protagonist determine where the duo are headed and why. The most important clue is an advertisement from a gay.com-like website, appearing over and over, announcing its sponsorship of the grand reopening of a once-famous bathhouse, an event which is expected to attract masses of sexual deviants. Is this gathering of the masses just another gala circuit party-type event, and might it have something to do with why Aces is compelled to race across the country?

While the answers to these questions may be of some interest to the reader, the author clearly paints an even more vivid picture of the relationship (for lack of a better word) that evolves between Afaik and Aces. The two experience sex at its most erotic, hardcore and sadomasochistic - more often than not Aces invites at least a third to join or watch him and Afaik. In any case, because Afaik's retelling of these events is so matter-of-fact, not only is he portrayed as a willing participant, but enthusiastically so.

It's difficult to say whether or not I enjoyed this novel. Granted, some of the themes the author introduces are certain to give pause, and the ridiculousness of the circumstances is undeniably hilarious on occasion. Still, the end result is a bit of jumbled mess; and only a creator of science fiction and fantasy could get away with it.

Chris is a voracious reader and unapologetic theater geek from Narragansett, Rhode Island.