Finite Jest

Black Hole
By Bucky Sinister

Review by Christopher R. Craddock

(c) 2015

Finite Jest

As the curator in charge of acquisitions at the Library of New Alexandria I read a lot of books. My reading schedule is laid out like Burgess Meredith’s in the episode of the Twilight Zone–just before he broke his glasses. I must maintain a rigid schedule of Classics if I am to absorb the wit and wisdom of the ages. I cannot afford to veer from my path. Sometimes, however, a book comes along like a black hole and I am irrevocably pulled into its gravitational field. The aptly titled Black Hole, by Bucky Sinister, was just such a book. Once I began reading it I put those musty Classics on the back burner, and it was all like ‘second star to the right, and straight on till morning.’

Black Hole is pulp science fiction, but lurking behind its genre disguise is satire on the level of Petronius or Jonathan Swift. Black Hole is also in the mode of detective novels, but the ones that elevate and transcend the genre, like the works of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Bucky is able to both embody and transcend the genre, much as Philip K. Dick did in Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said; Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and A Scanner Darkly, which bears the closest comparison to Black Hole. Have I gone to far in my effusive praise? Perhaps. Time will tell. I’m not ready to crown Sinister as the next Dick, but he’s at least in the conversation.

I was going to compare Black Hole to Infinite Jest, but that would be going too far, although if you circumscribed some of David Foster Wallace’s excesses–his endless digressions, and footnotes, and narrowed the focus to a single first person narration, you’d be left with a work of speculative fiction that projects current trends into the not-too-distant future, exaggerating them for the purpose of satire. Much like Black Hole. If not an Infinite Jest, then a faster paced, focused and circumscribed jest? A finite jest.

The thing about the much vaunted satire that I enjoy so much in Bucky Sinister’s Black Hole is that it’s not only directed against the milieu of yuppies and gentrification of San Francisco and environs, and denizens of its decadent demimonde, but also against the narrator himself, bearing some similarities to the venerable author, one supposes; who realizes that there is only a short span of time that you can get away with being a cool hipster who parties hard before you end up being the creepy old guy at the party who weirds everyone out.

Black Hole is a cautionary tale, a ‘catcher in the rye,’ warning readers from the heart of darkness. But it shows rather than tells you to just say, “No.” And it’s a hell of a lot of fun along the way.

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