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The Mirage (P.S.)


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Genre buster Ruff (Bad Monkeys) takes the reader through the looking glass into a world where a union of benevolent Muslim states (the U.A.S.) guards against Christian fundamentalist terrorists trying to spread fear and unrest. After the terrorist attack of 11-9-2001 on towers in Baghdad, the story proper begins in 2009, as Homeland Security Agent Mustafa al Baghdadi, witness to the original attack, nearly dies confronting a suicide bomber from Texas named James Travis, aka "the crusader." The crusader survives the attempt, and his claims that their world is actually a polar opposite distortion of the truth sends Mustafa spinning. Ruff's exposition to establish the situation is impressively simple: clever, inventive entries from "The Library of Alexandria, A User-Edited Reference Source" are peppered throughout, tweaking Wikipedia and appearing just when readers (or sometimes characters) need them. Among other entries, one finds a long biography of Saddam Hussein, "philanthropist, novelist... and Iraqi labor organizer"; an explication of the "Miranda Warning" rights of U.A.S. citizens; and a chronicle of the 40-year reign of Lyndon Johnson, described as the President of the Christian States of America (C.S.A.) who was born in the Evangelical Republic of Texas; his "Mexican Gulf War" of 1991 pitted Louisiana against an OPEC-backed Texas. Beneath this dubious verisimilitude lies a truth that gives Ruff's work a sharp satiric bite. As to the book itself, it's as traditional in its story as it is unconventional in its premise, with a full cast of characters and narrative arc. As the plot thickens, the ideas keep coming, with Ruff revising the history of, among other things, the gay rights movement, David Koresh, and Timothy McVeigh. This is both entertaining and provocative, exactly what the best popular fiction should be. Agent: The Melanie Jackson Agency. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

"A unique and compelling read."--The Associated Press
"Like Philip Roth's The Plot Against America, the premise behind Ruff's alternate-history novel is chilling."--The New York Post
"An unnerving but intriguing premise forms the backbone of Matt Ruff's latest novel, The Mirage, one of the most daring 9/11-inspired novels to emerge after that horrific day--The Seattle Times
"Ruff embraces his twisty concept with an attention to detail that suggests many months, more likely years, of fervent research. . . . He is a world-class world builder who, perhaps better than any other writer, can create exotic, mysterious worlds and communicate their unique rules and consistent logics."--The Stranger
"A funhouse-mirror mash-up where H.G. Wells and Graham Greene collide with The Arabian Nights and The Matrix. . . . Ruff dizzies and dazzles the reader with a fantastic-and fantastical-story."--BookPage
"Sci-fi/fantasy/post-cyberpunk cult author Matt Ruff imagines an alternate world in which Arabia becomes the earth's dominant superpower and America is a dictator-led, fundamentalist backwater. More than half the fun here comes from discovering all of the intricately clever consequences Ruff derives from that simple premise."--Details
"The alt-historical framework is in many ways the best and most entertaining part of the book, and you want it to expand beyond the mere 400 pages of The Mirage."--Seattle Weekly
"Furious entertainment. . . . It echoes Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union or Steven Barnes's Lion's Blood, but more comparisons will be made to Philip K. Dick's World War II reimagining The Man in the High Castle."--The Onion's AV Club
"If you amalgamated the methodical, punctilious, world-building skills of Ian McDonald with the reality-distortion powers of Philip K. Dick and then folded in the satirical, take-no-prisoners savagery of Norman Spinrad, you might be able to produce a book approximating The Mirage."--Barnes and Nobles Review
"That The Mirage shares DNA with airport-kiosk genre exercises is nothing to be ashamed of. A good thriller is hard to pull off. The ingredients are clear enough: propulsive action, sympathetic characterization, and enough detail to ground the story without slowing things down."--The Philadelphia City Paper
"This book quite successfully challenges the ideas of Christian moral supremacy and the unchallenged political agenda of superpowers. It is a deeply satisfying novel which excites hopes of a long and productive career for this young writer."
"The Mirage is an intriguing addition to the genre . .. . Ruff spices up his tale with a wealth of arresting details. . . . Ruff keeps you reading, [out of] eagerness to see what twist he'll think of next."--The New York Times Book Review
"An audacious new novel. . . . . The Mirage is a topsy-turvy tour de force, another winner from a truly inventive and unpredictable storyteller."--The San Francisco Chronicle

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