Book: The Troika

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Book:

The Troika

Author: Stepan Chapman
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Publisher: Ministry of Whimsy Press

troika, n. [Russ.], 1. a vehicle drawn by a team of three horses abreast. 2. the minimum coordinate set required to define a single point in three-dimensional space. 3. a jeep, a brontosaurus, and an old Mexican woman.

Beneath the glare of three purple suns, three travelers—an old Mexican woman, an automated jeep, and a brontosaurus—have trudged across a desert for hundreds of years. They do not know if the desert has an end, and if it does, what they might find there. Sometimes they come across perfectly-preserved cities, but without a single inhabitant, and never a drop of rain. Worse still, they have no memory of their lives before the desert. Only at night, in dreams, do they recall fragments of their past identities.

But night also brings the madness of the sandstorms, which jolt them out of one body and into another in a game of metaphysical musical chairs. In their disorientation and dysfunction, they have killed each other dozens of times, but they cannot die. Where are they? How can they escape?

From this quest form, Stepan Chapman has fashioned a poignant and powerful story of redemption in which pathos is leavened by humor and pain is softened by comfort. It is the story of deranged angels, deadly music boxes, and cellular transformation. It is also the tale of Alex who wanted to be a machine, Naomi, who spent 20 years as a corpsicle, and Eva, who escaped the whale emperor of her native land. The novel alternates between the three characters’ attempts to discover where they are with their search for identity through the dream stories which reveal their fragmented pasts. The Troika’s satisfying conclusion brings closure to one of the most harrowing journeys ever into the heart of surrealism and the human soul.

Reviews

Amazon.com

Under the glare of three suns, three beings travel across an endless desert. They argue, whine, wheedle and needle each other. Sometimes they switch identities when the sandstorms roar in. As The Troika rolls on, we learn more about Alex, who started out as a man, then became cyborg, then jeep. About Naomi, a veteran soldier who woke up from her cryogenic storage tank to a new life, now a dinosaur. About Eva, who fled her native land to escape her fate as an organ-donor for the emperor. Fantasy? Surrealism? The desert landscape spins and alters as we look at the man behind the curtain: mad angel Dr. Mazer, testing a controversial therapy program at his isolated asylum. Science fiction after all?

Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award for 1997,The Troika is speculative literature at its finest. —Bonnie Bouman

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