Amnesiascope by Steve Ericson




[Click the cover below to check it out! If you don’t see a book cover below it’s probably ad-blocker settings]

[Note: This cover is what the book should have had all along. The one I had added to making it seem more sci-fi than it actually was/is]

“In the apocalyptic Los Angeles of Amnesiascope, time zones multiply freely, spectral figures roam the streets, and rings of fire separate the city from the rest of the country. The narrator, a former novelist, lives in a hotel and writes film criticism for a newspaper whose offices are located in a bombed-out theater. Viv, his girlfriend, is a sexually voracious artist, and together the two are collaborating on an avant-garde pornographic film. But in this world, what’s real and what’s merely the conjuring of the protagonist’s imagination—obsessed with dreams, movies, sex, and remembrance—is far from clear.”



First, here’s what my copy looked like:

This book was a freebie with not much known about it other than ‘I was told it was really surreal and sci fi.’ I read the back [which had an entirely different synopsis than what it does now, btw] and was like ‘Sure, seems like it can’t be too bad, especially for a free book.’

…The book is nothing like it’s original synopsis, and it’s original cover only sort of leaned it into a sci-fi feel that wasn’t really there in the book at all. If it were a movie it would be like if the trailers only showed the sci-fi parts and then you get in to watch it and want your money back because it’s barely sci-fi at all.

I… don’t really know how to explain this book, really. Is it sci-fi? …yes…? In small parts I’d say. Is it surreal? For sure.

Honestly though, if it wasn’t for that I actually found myself loving the author’s style and prose, I’d have given it up about a quarter of the way in.

The story is in a sort of apocalyptic version of Los Angeles, the entire city having issues with above ground and underground fires since an event that the protagonist only refers to as ‘The Quake.’ The protag lives in a decrepit hotel owned by a sexual predator that, according to the protag is a ‘Palestinian Terrorist.’

[I very quickly learned/figured out that the book was written and published in the 90’s, as much of it is very cringey and very offensive.]

The protag is a self-loathing, pretentious, lying, sexual-abuser-apologist, washed-up novelist with a stutter; who also somehow also seems to think he’s god’s gift to women.

The book is incredibly frustrating because it gives you these little teases about this sci-fi-esque universe that is genuinely interesting, as well as odd situations and characters the protag knows/gets himself into, but the protagonist spends about 85% of the book musing about the past and the future [and nothing about the situation going on around him] and about 75% of that 85% is musing about previous relationships with women, and his various sexcapades.

As much as I can appreciate reading about a guy who goes out of his way to go down on women, I really would have preferred to know more about the universe than like huge chunks of the book learning about a woman who has her labia pierced with a cat-shaped ring made of jasper. [actually that character was pretty awesome as with her descriptions, but: my statement stands for all the other sexual scenes]

Multiple times when I considered quitting the book it was because of these long, drawn out sections of his sexual musings, but didn’t because damnit the author’s writing style was amazing.

A lot of interesting stuff goes on in the book that genuinely captured my intrigue, but I had to waft through a ton of boring, drawn out shit to get to it.

I was left mostly unsatisfied at the end, which may have been the point but I dunno. It just made me hold the book up and be like: ‘Why did I really read this, though?’

Unrelated note: It was a little sad because when I went to read it I found the smushed, mummified corpse of a spider who seemed to want to take a nap in the back of the book and then probably someone put it back on a bookshelf between other books where it met its untimely end.



I give Amnesiascope 2/5 Bathyspheres


[At the very least, this book had some great quotes]

“In the mornings I wake to someone somewhere in the building crying out ‘I’m tired of this life!’ with so much force it’s hard to believe he’s really dying, but with so much anguish it’s harder to believe he’s kidding.”

“But you know, when the heart is broken and the dream is gone, annihilation is delicious.”

“I know I’m back in L.A. because I recognize it by its women; they’re not like the women of anywhere else, they rampage in a way that’s endemic to Los Angeles, wild like the animals that flee a fire in the hills. They emerge from out of the city’s cinder heaps glistening with menstrual smoke.” 




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