Twana Burch is a lucky girl. Yeah, her brother is involved with a black-market cloning racketeer, and her mom is a junkie declining rapidly towards death. But Twana, who is the HUGEST FAN EVER of the mononymic pop star Bieber, happens to be present when the car carrying her musical idol explodes.
Now, I realize it might not seem like good luck to see your musical hero blasted into bits, but here’s the key piece you’re missing: Twana catches one of the bits. Specifically, she catches Bieber’s Finger.
What results is a madcap plan: Twana makes a deal with her brother’s mobster boss that, in exchange for a chrome-plated rehab plan for their mom, Twana will hand over the finger and will also train the resulting Bieber clone how to be Bieber: she knows all the key information, because, after all, she’s his biggest fan. This will allow the mobster to spin Bieber’s death as a publicity stunt and return under new management, just in time to win the Pan-Galactic Prom Show.
Intercut with the story of Twana’s and New Bieber’s adventures, we also follow a platoon of ice beetles from planet Hull. Their home destroyed by their species enemy, the Voles, these elite beetles are tasked with finding a new home for the entire race. Resuscitating a wrecked earth-origin exploration ship, the USS Arlington, and head into deep space.
The adventure continues in Funk Toast and the Pan-Galactic Prom Show. The ice beetle explorers have become a band called Poison Nickels, and by a bit of aggressive management and some musical piracy, they get themselves on to the program. Along with the resurrected Bieber and the Funk Toast band (a real life band here transmogrified into a science fiction analog, complete with band member biographies and portraits baked into the narrative of both books), the Poison Nickels get a slot on the Pan-Galactic Prom Show.
Will the popstar-cloning scam work? Will Bieber’s boybandmate and murderer finish the job he started? Will Poison Nickels succeed in using the Prom Show has a platform for bringing attention to the plight of their species, and get a new home for the ice beetles? Will anybody find love?
Craig Nybo’s previous books have been small-town monster-injected Americana. Here, the Wizard of Kaysville takes his love of gonzo storytelling, injects it with his rock and roll savoir faire, shoots it into outer space, and amps the volume to 11.
Well worth it.