In which I look at Supercenter by Jason Rizos, and the newly-released Parasite Milk by Carlton Mellick III!
Author: Jason Rizos
Publisher: Montag Press
I don’t know how I’d missed this one for so long; this is just the kind of thing out of which I get a huge kick! A core element of the whole American aftermath dystopia, be it zombies or virus or nukes, revolves around the notion of the big box store. That’s half of everyone’s survival plan — solid building, few entrances, no windows, secure, well-stocked.
I’ve seen so many stories over the years playing with this idea … I remember one where the various stores became like little kingdoms, negotiating … I remember the miraculously untouched store in Swan Song … but, in Supercenter, Jason Rizos takes the whole concept to an entirely new level.
A long-term new level, in which an entire generation grows up never knowing anything of the world outside. They’re raised to be diligent Buy-All associates and shoppers, in a fluorescent-lit climate-controlled environment, doing their shifts, enjoying what entertainment the electronics department has to offer.
For a talented young fellow like G.E., his best prospects lie in his success in the gaming arenas of the Virtual Training Corps. If he wins there, he can secure a better future for himself and his sister, both left in the care of the Buy-All by their parents many years ago.
But G.E. may be too clever and curious for his own good. Here, questions, of course, are discouraged. The weirdos and malcontents who live off the company clock over in the ominous Aisle 39 are not to be trusted. Even when he finds what appear to be blueprints, there’s certainly no point speculating what might be outside the store, let alone trying to get there …
Suffice to say, he tries, and is in for a few shocks to his system as he begins to realize nothing is as he’s been taught to believe. Particularly the differences between video game combat and reality
Wonderfully imagined, well-thought-out, rich with wry humor and a surprising amount of pathos, Supercenter is an enjoyable read from start to finish, hitting a good balance between leaving plenty of room for speculation and reaching satisfying conclusions.
Title: Parasite Milk
Author: Carlton Mellick III
Publisher: Eraserhead Press
The author’s note opens with “I didn’t feel like writing a real introduction to this book, so here is a recipe for spaghetti tacos” (followed by a recipe I don’t know if I dare try at home). The bonus section at the end, where an afterword would go, is the most adorable and hilarious yet of CMIII’s personal comic strips.
Those alone are worth the price of admission, but the story in the middle is loads of sick fun too. Like it’s a cookie sammich, the intro and afterword the cookies, the rest an octuple-stuff layer of …
Okay, the middle layer of octuple-stuff is made of kinky alien sex, culinary atrocities, and all kinds of messed-up fungoid grossness. But fun! Fun in the way that will make you cringe, utter helpless mewling eew sounds, and maybe throw up in your mouth a little.
It also suggests that maybe since McDonalds hasn’t come after him yet for previous works, he’s set his sights somewhat higher. One can only imagine what Andrew Zimmern and the network execs will make of this season of Bizarre Foods!
Once you’ve tried all the most exotic dishes Earth has to offer, though, what else is there to do but take things to the next level? This is the future. Contact has been made, travel is possible, Earth is only one part of a galactic community. Time to scout out some new worlds for their ‘delicacies’!
The world in question is called Kynaria, a mushroom planet inhabited by civilized fungal lifeforms, telepathic slugs, and behemoths with colonies of clam-things infesting their rear ends. Cameraman Irving Rice has just arrived to prep for filming, but his production partner Mick wants to make sure he gets the full experience.
Which means, Kynarian hotels, Kynarian restaurants, Kynarian public transportation, Kynarian lavatory facilities, and, of course, Kynarian brothels! Irving, not very keen on the idea of getting busy with slugs or mushroom women, finds himself enticed by a plantlike pretty sylph-creature.
She’s alluring, she’s intoxicating, she’s sexy and insatiable and downright addictive. But, to his consternation, everyone else reacts as if he’s committed the most obscene and perverse act possible.
To his further consternation, Irving then begins developing some alarming symptoms, and realizes he may have caught something worse than your run-of-the-mill STD. His only hope is to get back to Earth for treatment, if he can.