It is September 9, 2050. The great state of California is turning two hundred. And it is anything but coincidence that at midnight on the eve of the bicentennial, a child named Calafia Figueroa is born in a flagrant grab at publicity. Born…and then immediately kidnapped by a shadowy cult with its own ideas about how to capture an audience.
Calafia is the first of her kind, wired to broadcast every moment of life—from womb to tomb—to an audience with an insatiable appetite for the vicarious experiences of celebrities, none of them more celebrated than the Figueroa family. Her mother Poppy plunges into despair. But her uncle Sandy, an aimless stoner trying to recover from the trauma of being a teenage livewire star whose every boner was broadcast live to legions of fans, discovers a purpose in his life as he sets off to rescue his baby niece. From the blazing sprawl of the SanFrangeles Franchise, through the menacing dark of the Holy City, Sandy tracks the girl now known as Kalifornia with the aid of his half-seal friend Cornelius.
As entertainment intersects with politics and religion, Sandy finds himself at the center of a power-struggle much more than two hundred years old, but only now cutting its baby teeth.
First published in 1993, this marks the first ebook publication of Kalifornia.
“As brilliant a satire on the future of media and popular culture as any of Pohl and Kornbluth’s classic works.”
“The plot wails, the eyeball kicks are comparable to the classic work of great cartoonists, and the skewed near-future premises are totally believable. Totally tan, totally!”
“This book sings as it flies.”
“KALIFORNIA is an unforgettable descent into McLuhancy, an authentically demented amalgam of madness, myth, media and mutation. Reading Marc Laidlaw’s new novel is like watching Gilligan and crew struggling to survive on the Island of Dr. Moreau. Be warned: this book plays with your sense of reality as it’s never been played with before, so be sure to lay in a supply of Dr. McNguyen’s Soothing Antipsychotic (now in aerosol cans) before embarking.”
“Laidlaw neatly satirizes our postmodern society in this wild, almost hallucinatory novel…. A quick, enjoyable romp full of surprising twists and enlivened by an incisive wit.”
“A plot summary cannot do justice to this dark, imaginative satire…. Funny, frightening, and immensely enjoyable.”
“An uproarious post-cyberpunk satire…a wildly distorted and funny caricature of contemporary California. A short, strange trip through the near future. To use the slang of 2050, it’s tan. Totally tan.”
—Santa Barbara News Press
“Try to imagine a cross between Robert Sheckley, Philip K. Dick and William Gibson—all on speed—and you will barely approximate the book’s pyrotechnic impact. Kalifornia is so full of funny—of both the “ha-ha” and “plain weird” varieties—ideas that Laidlaw could easily have written a well-filled trilogy (or two) with it. Instead, he has chosen to cram it all into one, relatively slim volume. This is both the book’s genius and its curse.”
“Kalifornia is a very funny novel. Laidlaw obviously had a great time with this book; so will its readers
“It’s a joyous, high-tech/low-comedy romp featuring Laidlaw’s acidic humor, dark slapstick sensibility, and cyberpunk ideology. Four stars, because we don’t give five.”
“I don’t know exactly where satire ends, but ‘Kalifornia’ is certainly beyond it. … Considering Mr. Laidlaw’s age, and my assumption that he grew up watching ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ I wonder why Mr. Laidlaw has such a misanthropic view of the world in general, and television in particular. Some people view the glass as half-full, and others as half-empty. Apparently, Mr. Laidlaw views it as smashed.”
—Sherwood Schwartz, creator of Gilligan's Island