Wannabes: From the winner of the inaugural Terry Pratchett First Novel Prize comes a new satire.
Celebrities are mobbing London’s laser clinics as a deranged wannabe bumps off A-listers, believing he can absorb their powers and become famous by taping their tattoos to his body.
Washed-up pop star Jackie Thunder isn’t joining the stampede. Jackie figures that if he can get on the killer’s hit list, without the inconvenience of actually being murdered, he’ll gain the publicity needed to reignite his career.
But there’s more at stake than Jackie can possibly imagine. Guiding the killer is Murmur, a minor demon with his own agenda to make a name for himself, and Jackie becomes an unwitting pawn in a decades-old plot to destroy great music through murder, mayhem and manipulation.
With humanity’s collective soul at stake, how far will Jackie go to reach the top?
Ever hear some of the trash on the airwaves over the last ten years or so and wonder what happened to good music? Why this slide into auto-tuned mediocrity that is only occasionally peppered by the voices of people with true talent? Well, Michael Logan has with Wannabes, and his answer to this riddle with both amuse and horrify you. The devil did it. Why’s that horrifying, you say? Well, because it’s disturbingly believable, that’s why! You know it’s bull, yet you find yourself nodding slowly and thinking “I can see that.”
Well, to be fair, it’s not the devil himself. Satan doesn’t really do grunt work. So, ruining music is a task given to a low-level demon named Murmur. He’s determined to make a name for himself by getting rid of all the talent in the music industry. He doesn’t want humanity getting any closer to God, and fulfilling this task will propel him up from obscurity.
Logan’s writing talent is obvious in Wannabes and I’m glad to see this variation on quirky humor/thriller from him. The characters are believable, the action doesn’t feel super fast-paced, but yet it still keeps your attention. There’s enough nods to major figures in music that those who have a true love for the subject will find themselves sitting back in their seat, sighing, and thinking wistfully of ‘the good ol’ days’. Towards the end there’s some pokes at religion. I’m sure they’ll twist the panties of religious fundamentalists, but I found it all to be good fun.
Wannabes takes you from low-key amusement to snickering delight as it takes on the current state of the music industry, and how it got to be the festering pile of excrement that it is. At the same time, Michael Logan gives you characters you can root for once they get their stupid out, a dash of romance in the form of a racially diverse coupling (cue boneheaded racists joining in the religious fundies in the tantrum pile), and leaves you with a bit of hope that maybe, one day, somehow, the music industry can start producing actual good music again one day.
Oh, and then there’s the mental image of God rockin’ it on stage with Hendrix in guitar duels. Can’t forget that.