Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Armageddon Rag

The Armageddon Rag, by George R. R. Martin

It's rare that I hate a protagonist this much. He's emblematic of that "my 60s generation was the best generation, man!" sort of guy. "Today's music sucks, our music was REAL ROCK! Just listen to the lyrics, man!" He's the type prone to baby boomer self-aggrandizement, but without anything to actually show for it. On one level, it seems like Martin is critiquing this 60s-Golden-Age type, but on another level I think we're  actually supposed to buy into his impotent angst and perhaps nod along in approval to his stale witticisms and toothless comebacks.

His friends are scarcely better: we have the ex-radical hippie professor who tries to get into his students' pants, the free-love hippie mama getting in touch with motherhood and mother earth on a dippy commune, the drug-blasted hippie wastoid, and a flabby reunited hippie band it is impossible to care about. Hanging is too good for the lot of them.

A thing we could do without: aging white authors writing about aging white authors who, despite everything, get exotic tail and just accept it like it's their due. Of course the smokin' hot black woman goes for the white author-proxy with nothing going for him, and of course it never occurs to him that this is anything more than the natural order of things. Because he's from the 60s, man.

Another thing we could do without: Martin puts variations of the phrase "Yessa Massa" into way too many scenes. Creepy.

The only way that this book could have been salvaged for me is if the aging hippie and all his friends had their noses rubbed in their collective generational failure, like a pack of dogs who had messed on the carpet. Alternately, I would have accepted a particularly violent demise for the main character. Sadly, I got neither.