Time travel, dystopias, robots, other planets, aliens. All these archetypes of science fiction — along with cigarette-smoking monkeys — make their appearance in one fashion or another in Foop!, the debut novel by Chris Genoa.
Foop! is a comedic and at times scatological look at where the Earth may be headed and why. Its hero is Joe, who, as the name implies, is just an average guy. Joe lives a mundane, lonely existence on an Earth crowded by 11 bllion people. His respite is time travel, something he can do quite frequently as a tour guide for Dactyl, the world’s first time travel tourism company. Joe’s boss, Mr. Burk, invented time travel playing with the world’s largest particle accelerator while drunk. Having turned his discovery into a successful commercial venture, Mr. Burk has decided to promote Joe to investigate mysterious photos of past Mr. Burks being abused by persons unknown. As these things never occurred in Mr. Burk’s actual past, he wants to know what’s going on.
Just after the promotion, Joe notices the Duo, an evil-looking pair he nicknames Boogedy and Nibbles. They stare malevolently at him on the commuter train and also show up on Joe’s attempt to investigate Mr. Burk’s photos, an effort that ends with the Duo disappearing with Joe’s assistant. As Joe attempts to cope with his new assignment and the coincident appearance of the Duo, he encounters Bogumilism, a religion which soon seems to grow by leaps and bounds. Bogumils seek an interconnectedness among humans, believing that each and every human is a ray of light emanating from The Bright and seeking guidance from Ba Hubba Tree Bob, the leader of the Church of the Bright. Yet despite the growing popularity of Bogumilism and Joe’s yearning to connect with someone, Joe is unsure of the sect and its leader.
More crucial, Joe also begins to notice an occasional “mild blip within a localized leep-dee-loop.” In other words, some problems seem to be developing with the space-time continuum, manifested not only by Mr. Burk’s photos and the Duo, but also the appearance of “ghosts,” snippets of time appearing to repeat themselves like a stuck record, and a Bogumil in one of Joe’s tour groups doing something never before accomplished in time travel and which was believed impossible.
Interspersed with intermittent illustrations of various characters (such as The Duo and Mr. Burk but not Joe), Foop! is satiric social commentary on a wide range of issues, including, but far from limited to, religion, the “progress” of man, and individual existence in an increasingly impersonal world. Joe the everyman is a likeable narrator on this tour of the surreal. And, like a good tour, even if not every stop is a hit, the trip tends to be a pleasant one overall.