Book Review | FKA USA
FKA USA by Reed King
The year is 2085 and the United States has dissolved into assorted warring territories (among them the Sovereign Nation of Texas, the New Kingdom of Utah, and – in ex-Silicon-Valley – the Independent Nation of Engineered People-Things), variously ruled by cartels, hoodlums, and psychotic corporations. The environment has been trashed; most of California has fallen into the Pacific and what’s now called Floridia is an island.
Our hero in all of this is Truckee Wallace, a 16-year-old factory worker from Crunchtown 407 (once Little Rock, Arkansas). Truckee hasn’t done much but help make Flavor Blasted Cheez Dust and fantasize about losing his virginity – until he’s suddenly tapped by the company president to go on a mission to save the world. Off he goes on an adventure-laden cross-country trek to San Francisco, in company with Sammy, a robot, Tiny Tim, an enormous cyborg, and a talking goat named Barnaby. There are elements of Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and even L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz – plus maps (find out what happens to Vermont in 2085) and quotes and footnotes from the helpful (but wholly imaginary) book The Grifter’s Guide to the Territories FKA (that is, Formerly Known As) USA.
King’s picture of an irradiated, poisoned, and violent dystopia is simultaneously awful, snarky, strange, original, and funny. Give it a try! After all, who can resist goats and robots?
Reviewed by Rebecca Rupp