Rocky Mountain News Review


Prince of Christler-Coke
By Neal Barrett Jr. (Golden Gryphon, $25.95).

Grade: A

Neal Barrett Jr. has shown that he is an expert satirist in such earlier novels as The Hereafter Gang and Interstate Dreams. The Prince of Christler-Coke reinforces his position as one of a few masters of the genre.

In the not-too-distant future, corporate mergers have taken over the United States. And on a gorgeous day, Asel Iacola, the newly named Prince of Christler-Coke, will wed the lovely Loreli, heir to the house of Pepsicoma-Dodge. Their union will forge an alliance that will allow Asel and his family to rule over all of America East.

But Ducky Du-Pontiac Heinz, with the help of the West Coast house of Disney-Dow, proves that hostile takeovers in the future are really hostile. Before Asel can bed the lovely Loreli, soldiers in black helicopter gunships descend on the Christler-Coke estate, murdering all of the Iacola family and capturing Asel.

When the young prince wakes up, he has been transported to the National Executive Rehabilitation Facility (NERF) in the desert village of Dry Rock in dreaded Oklahomer. The poor embattled Prince is forced to wear "poly-hester," eat buffet style and live in a (gasp) condominium. To make matters even worse, he has a roommate, Sylvan Lee McCree, the deposed ruler of Dixie-DataDog, victim of another hostile takeover in Louisiana. Sylvan is a giant black man, but Asel is not prejudiced — though Sylvan is the first black person he has ever seen. It isn't long before Asel and Sylvan escape into the bizarre environs of an American West gone totally goofy.

Among others, the banished nobles take up with a mechanical bear named Phil; Al, last of the Utes; and Betty Louise Ann, the waitress who will teach Asel as much as he is capable of learning about love and humanity.

Prince of Christler-Coke will make readers laugh out loud — and then get a little nervous when they realize that this fantasy is not that far from reality.

— Mark Graham, Rocky Mountain News, September 3, 2004

2004 © The E.W. Scripps Co.


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