Atomik Aztex
Atomik Aztex




Press Reviews

"With Atomic Aztex, Foster slices through history. His Aztex are not so very different from the Spanish colonialists or the corporate greed-mongers or the Farmer John pig butchers. "Everybody knows," he acknowledges from the outset, "that atavism and savagery make the world go round." For Foster, as a writer, the best strategy for fighting back is to rip up the language . . . He is not the first writer to use odd spellings to arrest our normal reading patterns. And he is not the first artist to explore the fantasy life of someone working on a factory line. But Foster puts his finger here on a particular nexus of World War II-era racism, factory life and the landscape of Los Angeles and then claims it for his very own." - Los Angeles Times

"Finally, but not an also-ran, is Sesshu Foster's Atomik Aztex, which takes us into a parallel universe where the Aztecs beat Cortez and now more or less rule the world, draining Europe of captives for their sacrificial rituals. In Foster's Aztec metaphysics, both universes play out at once, with our hero doubling as an Aztec warrior/priest and a grossly exploited Latino worker in a filthy, modern-day L.A. slaughterhouse. Blood flows everywhere here, human and animal, but so do the laughs. Foster is profoundly disorienting . . . but that's what we need from novels. You should put them down, rub your eyes, and see that the world isn't so flat after all. " - Barbara Ehrenreich, on Atomic Aztex being picked as one of The Progressive's "Favorite Books 2006"

"Punk sci-fi and kitchen-sink realism create a startling, morally fraught vision in Foster's genre-straddling tour de force. . . . readers will be blown away by Foster's control over the material . . . brilliantly inventive . . . " - Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"Just as Joan Didion once traced the deep fissures in Southern California’s sun-kissed façade, poet-turned-novelist Sesshu Foster brings to life places one can’t visit from the inside of a car.. . . a jocular novel where violence liberates and enslaves at the same time, History (with a capital “H”) is rendered as organ grinder, quite literally – monkey included." - LA Weekly

"Sesshu Foster's oracular Atomik Aztex is a novel of alternate history that posits the existence of an America where the Spanish conquistadors didn't conquer Mexico, thus turning the Aztecs into a major world power. . . . an unfailing, visceral, even courageous reminder that the Other is impossibly close. " - Rain Taxi

“Foster has fashioned a wild, thrilling and occasionally revolting ride through a pre- and post-modern world where bloody violence seems the only connective tissue in history and chronology has been collapsed to allow for centuries of events to all happen concurrently. Atomik Aztex is hip, bloody, occasionally baffling and often piercingly brilliant.” - Cherie Parker, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"In his rambunctious debut novel, Atomik Aztex, poet Sesshu Foster swaps a few consonants to designate the city "Teknotitlan," rendering the name far more piquant to a contemporary English-speaker's ear. . . . Renaming the Aztec capital is just one creative flourish in a book so heedlessly imaginative that it often seems ready to burst its pages like a comic-book POW. . . . this is an ambitious, energetic, and fiercely intelligent novel." - Emily Barton, Bookforum

". . .Foster's first novel. . . leaps fearlessly back and forth from 1940s Stalingrad, where an elite cadre of Aztec warriors is helping the Russians fend off invading Nazis, to "the frenetic hustle of overcrowded Teknotitlan," capital of the "Aztek Socialist Imperium," to the industrial back alleys of "some 3rd-class city called Los Angeles, someplace to the north." - Ben Ehrenreich, The Village Voice

Atomik Aztex combines Latin American magical realism with science-fiction for a story set in an alternate future. The Aztec empire has triumphed, running the world with ruthless, and psychotropically enhanced, efficiency. - Elaine Wolff, San Antonio Current

“Hernan Cortes landed in Mexico in 1519; two years later, history tells us, the Aztec civilization fell to the Spanish invaders and was wiped out. Atomik Aztex, the hallucinatory first novel by poet Sesshu Foster, proposes a different reality.” - Carolyn Juris, San Francisco Chronicle

"In Sesshu Foster's explosive new novel Atomik Aztex, we get two narratives for the price of one. In the first (or maybe it's the second, part of the delight of Foster's book is that it's impossible to tell), the Aztecs not only beat back the Spanish conquistadors, but then went so far as to colonize Europe itself.... The other narrative finds... Zenzontli a lowly illegal immigrant slicing up pigs for a living at a Farmer John slaughterhouse in East L.A." - SF Station

"Foster's satire on war and commercialism depicts a modern world ruled by the Aztecs, who rose to dominance after defeating the invading Spaniards in the 1500s. . . . A fine example of alternative fiction with a strong social theme; recommended for most collections." - Library Journal

"Atomik Aztex defies genre-labeling, yet it may be pigeonholed as science fiction. That would be unfortunate, as it could limit its audience and belie its serious intent. Foster’s subversion of history is not a simple exercise in what-ifs, nor is it politically correct revisionism. It raises a fresh, if demanding, voice above the recent trend for books composed using understated, psychological, navel-gazing, whispering prose." - Susan McCallum-Smith, urbanitebaltimore.com



Quotations

“If the Aztecs had defeated the conquistadores and had eventually become the mainstream, what would our world be like? Where is Teknotitlán located? In Robo-Los Angeles, Mexico D.F., or in the imagination of Sesshu Foster? If Ancient America had triumphed over savage capitalism, chicanismo would be the (poetical, political, and spiritual) center of it all. Atomik Aztex is a graphic, hilarious and violent chronicle of multiple realities that could emerge out of this proposition. It's an amazing exercise of radical imagination.” - Guillermo Gómez-Peña

"This is one mad neighborhood carnival roller coaster ride through Aztlán, the underground, the QT—a smoky universe hall of mirrors cosmik barrio existential comic strip. Oddball, hilarious—deep. Sesshu Foster delivers." -Marisela Norte, author of East L.A. Days/Fellini Nights

"Burroughs meets Gómez-Peña . . . nah, Roque Dalton meets Kurt Vonnegut . . . or how about Cesaire meets Nezahualcoyotl? Dare we say original? Yes! Hilarious, poignant, and at times devastating, Foster has crafted a fine post-global poetic, a cocktail of sublime anarchy to toss into the machine." -Rubén Martínez, author of The New Americans: Seven Families Journey to Another Country

"Anyone who reads Atomic Aztex is doomed. Those who don't have lost their opportunity to go out with a salubrious whimper, never to know why they were condemned. The prose is an electrifying, eclectic phantasmagoria of Groucho's marxism, dadada, surreal and natural (ism and ain'tm) combined with double-edged intellectual/historical hysteria." -Rick Harsh, author of the Driftless Trilogy