Registration Caspar by J. Gordon Faylor
Ugly Ducking Press, 2016; 288 pp
reviewed by Jack Hill
J. Gordon Faylor's novel, Registration Caspar, is a post-humanist, speculative novel about Caspar, a non-gendered being, that will be executed in five days. As some of the best speculative/SF writing does, Faylor's book employs fresh and sometimes challenging language derived from its own constantly growing/mutating/evolving lexicon while giving the reader footholds throughout by way of current cultural references (Air Jordans, for instance) and the occasional more traditionally structured scene or narration which often acts as the contextualizing factor as we swim forward. Much of the story is told through journal-like entries of Caspar's last five days themselves, sometimes paired down to the minute, as well as in remembered past struggles faced by Caspar’s friends/partners/co-inhabitants to survive, make money, and navigate this bleak world.
Registration Caspar reminds me of the way William Gibson's Neuromancer assumes the reader understands the world situation and language as it progresses through the story by briskly showing rather than explaining. In that, Registration Caspar allows itself the space to develop fully, and on its own terms, so we are witnesses/participators to/in some intriguing prose about where we may be headed via technocapitalism, especially regarding the nature of working for money:
In the cab on her way home, Brigware wondered what Kaoru could’ve been hiding in their supercilious Led, his birth. She realized she didn’t see a single other woman at the office that day. Jemma, at least, had clearly taken advantage of a generative work-life balance, for off after the dead preferred jewelry and blunted actual encounters, they kept off and made the lagging, restored leeway rumbling off pavement and slowing onto a patch of grass an intense gravitas modeled around her their minimum capacity to have done so as workers and shop brands like attractors, no one to awaken that couldn’t be blamed or counted toward the log in the end count . . .
The nuanced complexities and mysterious situation weaved throughout and melded to the straight-forward plot, Caspar’s looming execution, allow for reading through multiple layers/levels. For instance, much of the complexities/mysteries create suspense but also an opportunity to draw endless connections within the book and to the current technocapitalist situation. J. Gordon Faylor's Registration Caspar is a strange page-turner, one that requires deep consideration while also wholly experiencing the dramatic moments as they unfold.