Victorio Velasquez, author of "Fantastica: Volume I," claims that his book is a dark new age parody/satire/spoof of the fiction/fantasy genre, and that it is like "no other before or after." So, does the book hold up to this boast? And, if so, are those qualities worth boasting about? After all, there's an awful lot of great fantasy out there by authors playing it straight.We have two heroes in "Fantastica" and their names -- Shit and Dope -- reflect their respective characters, at least initially. We meet Dope -- a human -- when he attends a festival, riding on a filthy wild boar. He manages to crash into a mead-booth tended by a young peasant girl with an acne-riddled face, big lips, rotting yellow teeth and matted hair. It is love at first scent. Shit, whose role is that of the traditional hero/philosopher in classic quest literature, is warty and reptilian, with scaly skin, dog ears, and pupil-less silver eyes. He is agile and combative with a brain that cannot entertain more than one thought at a time. Of course the mainstay of a quest is not really the elusive "holy grail," but the change in the hero's character as he struggles toward manhood. These guys obviously need a little help from their friends, and the cast extends to talking rats, rainbow colored dragons, mentors and shamans, and the usual skulking ogres, giants and beasts. Needless to say, the dialogue is not riveting, and no one ever bathes.
What is not usual about "Fantastica" is that it harks back to the fantasy of a different time, most particularly to that of Rabelais, but also to the work of the English satirist, Jonathan Swift. Such writing is often called "carnival grotesque," in that it is blatantly ribald, crude, bawdy. (No surprise that Jack Black was cast in the last "Gulliver" movie.) Social and political satire were the underlying concerns of these writers, and they used defecation, flatulence, and slovenly sex to parody the society of their age.
These are the concerns and means of Victorio Velasquez. "Fantastica" could certainly use proofreading, but it is a rollicking tale that poses (rather than pedantically answers) social and political questions in what turns out to be an old, and now revived, literary tradition.
Bookreview.com rates this first volume of "Fantastica" very good and looks forward to an excellent Volume II.
TOP BOOK REVIEW.com
Victorio A. Velasquez has potential but needs some honing. The story is about two characters who leave town for an illegal festival. Dope’s parental figures come and shut it down and drag him back to town to be punished. Dope is severely punished and sentenced to become a slave. Shit, who was not captured, reconnects with Kit who is his love interest. The two of them together are killing machines. Two trolls give Shit and Kit a compass. A rat helps Dope escape from slavery. Dope falls in love with a girl that he tries to rescue while the evil cat emperor Louie is making life hell for people. I was confused about what happened to Dope because the character disappeared from the story about half way through.
Shit and Kit along with some other characters start to make their way back to the city. Shit seems to have some strange powers that are developing along the way. They meet their old friend Sambo. He seems to be a mentor to Shit and Kit. There are lots of graphic fights and the ending leaves it open to the next story.
I give the author credit that he wrote a short novel and he can tell a story, it just needs refining. He has good imagination and the novel reads almost like a video game.