Superior Book Productions

January 20, 2009

John Reyer Afamasaga
ET Fiction (2008)
© 2009 John Reyer Afamasaga

John Reyer Afamasaga, creator of etfiction pronounced e-t-fiction, has written another episode in his saga of stories. “e-t” stands for “Emotional-Techno” Fiction, but it might also be interpreted as “experimental treats” for that describes the “GUIOPERA,” his latest offering in a series of strangely satisfying, multiple-plot, intertextual tales containing some of the most original characters ever to see the page—the webpage that is. Afamasaga previously brought us “John Lazoo,” “WIPE,” and “Illicit Blade of Grass.” The “GUIOPERA” returns us to the familiar characters of those works and the LMLA-ink crew who are the characters rumored to be creating this material, the name being an acronym for the characters’ names, including Afamasaga himself.

Readers of “John Lazoo” may have felt that novel to be the most linear, the most traditional of Afamasaga’s works. At least we assumed the characters were basically human. Then came “WIPE” about a game that is created and altered by the characters’ minds as it is played. In “GUIOPERA,” the question of reality is further heightened as the characters embrace new levels of their beings that enhance their pseudo-humanity. Readers already familiar with Afamasaga’s earlier works will appreciate this new character development, but Afamasaga has also written this latest book to serve as an introduction, an overview, and an opera to acclimate new readers to his work.

While the previous works were novels, and “GUIOPERA” reads like a novel, it contains more multiple plots, more short, juxtaposing scenes than the previous books—it is its own experimental new novel form, a sui genre. Even the nearly fifty chapters are divided into parts, each rarely more than a few hundred words. Afamasaga is writing for the new generation of readers, connected to technology, so his fans can have a textual opera distributed to their mobile phones or hand-held devices. This writing is both innovative and yet holds the style, the fascination one would have found reading Dickens’ serialized novels, or perhaps on a smaller scale, a weekly comic strip like “Prince Valiant” or a watching a weekly television drama.

As a participant in the serial “GUIOPERA” experiment, I found myself each week anticipating what would come next, and at the same time, occasionally forgetting what happened in previous episodes. The effect upon the reader of this serial technique with its brisk writing and efficient, fast-paced plotting is one of gradual enlightenment of what is happening, one of anticipation with a bit of tension to keep us coming back each week.

This weekly presentation complements Afamasaga's fascination with crossing the line between reality and fiction. Unlike a movie where everything is resolved in a couple of hours, each week we read the “GUIOPERA,” we are left waiting for what will happen next, much as in life we must have patience to see how things will resolve themselves. The added pleasure of this technique, once the entire book was posted to, is for the reader to go back and read the entire “GUIOPERA” in a sitting as one would read a short novel, thus picking up clues that did not register the first time, and fully realizing how completely in control its creator was as he interwove scenes and developed his characters to lead to a climax and resolution—at least until the next installment of the series.

What remains in my head the longest about the “GUIOPERA” is the heightened development of the characters. They are not described in detail so much as broad strokes that make us remember a couple predominant traits about each. While the term falls short, the larger-than-life feel to these characters puts them on the level of something like “super-heroes” for the reader. Polina Rada, John Lazoo, Le Mac, Metofeaz—they are not infallible beings, but they retain a strength, a nobility about them, a certain coolness that makes them transcend the ordinary person. Their dialogue, the way they speak to each other, reflects this courageous enhanced stiff-upper lip form of existence, as in this passage leading up to one of the work’s pivotal scenes:

Lazoo has joined them and tries his best to be nonchalant about the drastic situation they are faced with. “These things happen.”

Genisis is irritable as she touches him on the shoulder. “Hon, that’s what Afamasaga would say; you are entitled to be angry or sad.”

Lazoo takes her head and kisses her, and then he hugs her tight. “This here, my woman, is a stand for our future and whoever will be a part of that future.”

Genisis closes her eyes as she nestles her face into his neck. Lazoo looks at the ground as he whispers into her ear. “Love, Trust, Honesty and Respect, the cornerstones of the New Global Realm, and we’re at the forefront, Genisis.”

Afamasaga stands watching them and clenches his jaw to absorb the pain that surrounds them at this point in time.

I won’t give away what happens to the characters, but I will say that Afamasaga intends many more episodes in this series of modern, mystifying adventures by some of the most original characters I have ever met in fiction or reality. He can hardly fail to create more works since he is himself a character in the “GUIOPERA” and its companion works, and enmeshed in a world he created, or was he created by it?

            — Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. and author of “The Marquette Trilogy”

Read an interview with John Reyer Afamasaga about the GUIOPERA


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