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The Troika

by Stepan Chapman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1416155,250 (3.69)10
Beneath the glare of three purple suns, three travelers - an old Mexican woman, an automated jeep, and a brontosaurus - have trudged across a desert for hundreds of years. They do not know if the desert has an end, and if it does, what they might find there. Sometimes they come across perfectly-preserved cities, but without a single inhabitant, and never a drop of rain. Worse still, they have no memory of their lives before the desert. Only at night, in dreams, do they recall fragments of their past identities.But night also brings the madness of the sandstorms, which jolt them out of one body and into another in a game of metaphysical musical chairs. In their disorientation and dysfunction, they have killed each other dozens of times, but they cannot die. Where are they? How can they escape?From this quest form, Stepan Chapman has fashioned a poignant and powerful story of redemption in which pathos is leavened by humor and pain is softened by comfort. It is the story of deranged angels, deadly music boxes, and cellular transformation. It is also the tale of Alex who wanted to be a machine, Naomi, who spent 20 years as a corpsicle, and Eva, who escaped the whale emperor of her native land. The novel alternates between the three characters' attempts to discover where they are with their search for identity through the dream stories which reveal their fragmented pasts. The Troika's satisfying conclusion brings closure to one of the most harrowing journeys ever into the heart of surrealism and the human soul.The Troika has been praised as visionary and completely original by such writers as John Shirley, Kathe Koja, Brian Stableford, Alan Brennert, Lance Olsen, Kathleen AnnGoonan, Brian Evenson, Paul Riddell, and Don Webb. The author's work has frequently been com… (more)
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» See also 10 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Stepan Chapman’s The Troika is brilliant. A surreal fantasy about a twisted family – an old mexican woman, Eva; a Jeep, Alex; and a Brontosaurus, Naomi, travelling together across an endless desert. It’s engaging and wildly inventive, a book of layered dreams and delusions, featuring guardian angels, fiddler-crab cops, Plasma Wars, and insanity. ( )
  Murrin | Apr 2, 2012 |
Amazing err. Ok there is probably no way I can describe this book..

I could start off by saying there is a jeep, a dinosaur and an old Mexican women walking across an infinite desert...

Or I could mention a few key ideas and themes of families and experiments, of insanity and angels, of cyborgs and Aztec sacrifice.

Or I could just drop in a quote (from the wisecracking Alex the jeep)
A story? You want a story? I'm crawling with stories. They slide in and out of me like pinworms. I'm like some long-winded war veteran with a story for each of his missing limbs. I'm like a pilbug on its back, bristling with amputations and waving my long lost legs while silicon chips coagulate in my thick black blood. My brain is clotted with stories.

But all I can really say is I think I can guarantee you won't have read anything else quite like this. It's eminently readable, surreal but accessible, sometimes fun, sometimes horrific, sometimes heart warming and always exciting.

The three characters are rich and their fevered imaginings of the past form the setting for the overarching thriller, easing us in through their bizarre, vibrant short stories with only a tantalising glimpse of truth. The writing is great and its tone almost reminds of a great lyrical, noir crime novel as it sweeps across the genres mashing sci-fi, fantasy and horror.

I really don’t want to give away more but maybe I should to entice you in. This is the second time I have read it and I still love it, in all its audacious glory. It may not be for everyone but I promise you will find it interesting. I still mourn the fact that this is his only novel, although if I had just one book in me, I would be very proud if it could be something like this.

For those interested (and I recommend to everyone) its cruelly out of print but it's going to be
republished as an e-book. Excerpt of book and info here
http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/2011/08/20/cheeky-frawg-to-release-e-book-of-stepa.... ( )
4 vote clfisha | Nov 3, 2011 |
Squid-headed priests? Okay, I'm in.
  Emardhi | Aug 3, 2008 |
What does a writer with too many ideas? Turns surreal, of course. The Troika, Chapman's debut, is filled to the brim with all sorts of ideas. If anything is possible, how can anything have meaning? Chapman's book avoids this trap, the fragments manage to make sense even if they're really odd.

The protagonists are an unlikely trio. There's Eva, an old Mexican woman. Alex is a jeep and Naomi a brontosaur. They're crossing a desert that seems to go on forever, and the reader is shown glimpses of their past in the form of strange, perhaps false memories, dreams and stories. There's an ending, but if the reader is looking for a proper plot, this book will be a disappointment.

I didn't love The Troika, but enjoyed it quite enough. The turns and twists are interesting and some of the stories paint pretty pictures of curious worlds. I can forgive the lack of plot and all the delusions for that, no problem! (Review based on the Finnish translation.)

(Original review at my review blog) ( )
  msaari | Jan 26, 2008 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stepan Chapmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Clark, Alan M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The three of them were crossing the desert of white sand.
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A story? You want a story? I'm crawling with stories. They slide in and out of me like pinworms. I'm like some long-winded war veteran with a story for each of his missing limbs. I'm like a pilbug on its back, bristling with amputations and waving my long lost legs while silicon chips coagulate in my thick black blood. My brain is clotted with stories.
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Beneath the glare of three purple suns, three travelers - an old Mexican woman, an automated jeep, and a brontosaurus - have trudged across a desert for hundreds of years. They do not know if the desert has an end, and if it does, what they might find there. Sometimes they come across perfectly-preserved cities, but without a single inhabitant, and never a drop of rain. Worse still, they have no memory of their lives before the desert. Only at night, in dreams, do they recall fragments of their past identities.But night also brings the madness of the sandstorms, which jolt them out of one body and into another in a game of metaphysical musical chairs. In their disorientation and dysfunction, they have killed each other dozens of times, but they cannot die. Where are they? How can they escape?From this quest form, Stepan Chapman has fashioned a poignant and powerful story of redemption in which pathos is leavened by humor and pain is softened by comfort. It is the story of deranged angels, deadly music boxes, and cellular transformation. It is also the tale of Alex who wanted to be a machine, Naomi, who spent 20 years as a corpsicle, and Eva, who escaped the whale emperor of her native land. The novel alternates between the three characters' attempts to discover where they are with their search for identity through the dream stories which reveal their fragmented pasts. The Troika's satisfying conclusion brings closure to one of the most harrowing journeys ever into the heart of surrealism and the human soul.The Troika has been praised as visionary and completely original by such writers as John Shirley, Kathe Koja, Brian Stableford, Alan Brennert, Lance Olsen, Kathleen AnnGoonan, Brian Evenson, Paul Riddell, and Don Webb. The author's work has frequently been com

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