Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse + Vampire A Go-Go by Victor Gischler Review

Accompanied by his cowboy sidekick Buffalo Bill, the gorgeous stripper Sheila, and the mountain man Ted, Mortimer journeys to the lost city of Atlanta — and a showdown that might determine the fate of humanity.

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Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse is an over the top social satire that cuts a wide social, political and personal swath. The targets are many, the aim is true. Sometimes the satriziations are intentionally ham-fisted in their gregarious presentations, like the basic idea of Ted Turner as a loopy mountain man. It’s absurdity at a high level. Other targets are more subtle and precise, like how our societies obsession with fitness and strength is lampooned by having a cross country train that is powered by pharmaceutically induced musclemen.

What’s interesting as a post apocalyptic tale, and its greatest asset as a satire, is that it is set pretty soon after the event. So it’s just close enough to the collapse of civilization that not only are the remnants still around but the memories of it are strong in the characters also. So, yes its a world that has been beset by massive destruction and change but it also manages to be pretty recognizable.

If I were to use just one word to describe Go-Go Girls it would be romp. Yeah, that’s right, I just used the word romp in a review. Its a lot of fun but its also a wild romp of a book. And perhaps just a little bit insane. All of which is meant as a compliment because all of this craziness results in a certain level of originality, especially when taken as a whole. Yes, some of the individual parts may feel familiar but they have never been used like this before.

One can also see that there is on display here a block-party like celebration of exploitation cinema (especially blaxploitation), pulp fiction, westerns, B movies, science fiction and cult cinema. I’d even go so far as to say that there may be some elements of camp that have been deliberately used, especially when you consider how close the relationship is between social satirization/criticism and camp.

If one were to dig down even further I think that you would find running through the book, an exploration of identity. The struggle for these characters to find an identity in a world where traditional power structures simply don’t exist results in identities being worn and cast aside casually.

Putting aside these notions of subtext (I mean who really wants to hear about that) you should read this because it’s a huge departure for Gischler. His last four novels have been crime fiction and it was a huge gamble that took a lot of guts to go in a completely different direction. This is the zig that should be celebrated. Not just celebrated for merely existing, but celebrated for being a success. Gischler kicked down the doors of possibility and stormed the house with this one. I hope he continues to go in whatever direction the voices in his head tell him to and that others take his lead.

As a side note, I’d like to point out what I believe to be a specific reference in the book. It’s not a spoiler so no fear. When Mortimer’s wife, now a dancer and dressed appropriately) busts out of the compound with her group of bikini wearing, machine gun toting girls near the end of the book I couldn’t help but think of Queen Bee and the Dolemite Girls. Given the recent passing of Rudy Ray Moore I felt that a brief mention was warranted. If I’m right then it was a fitting tribute.

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Narrated by the all-knowing ghost of long-dead alchemist and conman Edward Kelley, VAMPIRE A GO-GO takes readers back in time and into the depths of Prague Castle to reveal secrets that have lain dormant since the reign of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II—an eccentric ruler who filled his kingdom with astrologers, alchemists, and other pseudo-scientists.

Like Edward Kelly years ago, Allen simply doesn’t realize what he’s getting into, and an unforgettable cast of characters adds to the chaos and danger of a quest for an ancient device with the capacity to restore life itself.

Vampire A Go-Go is Victor Gischler’s latest attempt to conquer all genres. Last year’s Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse was his unique spin on the post-apocalyptic science fiction genre and this year’s Vampire a Go-Go is Gischler Tasmanian Deviling all over the horror genre.

One of the first things that popped into my head while reading Vampire a Go-Go was that Victor Gischler was channeling his inner Emerson LaSalle (his invented pulp fiction writer). If memory serves there were a number of old Emerson LaSalle titles mentioned on Gischler’s old blog that show that some of the ideas in Vampire have been steeping for awhile. Particularly Battle Jesuits of Pope Town but even others like .38 Caliber Goth Girl.

Vampire is a kitchen sink novel. The kind of novel that doesn’t settle for normalcy and piles the ideas and story elements high. Why settle for a girlfriend when you can also have her be a werewolf? Every character is something else until we have a battle royal of old horror tropes running amok and wreaking havoc.

Vampire a Go-Go feels a little more in control and less chaotic then last years Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse. But while it may be less campy it is no less fun.

The bottom line is that Victor Gischler brings a breath of fresh air to whatever genre and medium he chooses to write in and it comes as no surprise that he has been successful in crime, science fiction, horror and comics. Go out today and buy a Victor Gischler book, your day will be brightened and you’ll have a new favorite author.

Brian loves both kinds of books — fiction and non-fiction. He is an all around book john and reviewing roustabout.