The Good Guys: Marzipan, Lindsay, Jonathan, Garamond Ray
The Bad Guys: Beej, Jane, The Outlaw
The Victims & Conflicted Figures: Alice, Daniel, Hendrix
The Landscapes: Genius Loci, Santa Cruz (in general), The Desert
- As Wikipedia says, "In Roman mythology a genius loci was a protective spirit of a place. It was often depicted as a snake. In contemporary usage, 'genius loci' usually refers to a location's distinctive atmosphere or a 'spirit of place,' rather than necessarily a guardian spirit." In this novel, the Genius Loci is a coffee bar. Selected other names--Marzipan and Garamond Ray--are equally loaded. Does Tim Pratt follow through on the promise of his foreshadowing with these names or does the conceit fall apart?
- The artists in the novel -- Marzi, Lindsay, Jane, and Beej -- all bring shape to the good and evil forces in the book with their creative vision. But, "The Outlaw" itself is purely destructive (or is it?) -- so, is art supposed to be a power for good or bad?
- Marzi had a mental breakdown when she first opened the door, Daniel is a bit OCD, and Alice is a bit of a pyromaniac. Is Pratt, in general, presenting a productive or a destructive picture of mental illnesses.
- Obviously, the heroes of this story are women. But, Jane is also a woman, and she invokes goddess power and other feminist language. Further, almost all of the characters are written in tension with a stereotype. So, is the novel really pro-women and
positive towards GLBT people? Or, is it simply trotting out tired stereotypes for the sake of a good laugh?
- Some call this a work of metafiction: it's a novel about a comic book series. Or is it? Does the label really work? How does Marzi's comic book series help or hurt the structure of Pratt's book?
- Pratt rolled out this idea of the spirit of the west -- with both good spirits and bad spirits -- in his short story "Bleeding West." In that story, I think the spirits of lawlessness won. That worked in a short story, but would that ever work in a novel?
- The publisher put effort into the book's layout: the first page of each chapter splits into two columns with a little picture in the middle. Does this enhance your reading experience?
- Do you like the novel? Do you approve of its presence on the 2006 Best Novel shortlist for the Gaylactic Spectrum Awards?