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Paz Pardo Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Shamshine Blind (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Paz Pardo is an American author of science fiction books best known for her 2023 Shamshine Blind novel. She is also a playwright and has performed in the SF Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, Bogota, Bueno Aires, Austin, Texas and other cities. She graduated with a BA from Stanford University in 2009 and obtained her master’s in fine arts from the Michener Center for Writers at Austin in 2018. Her writing works have been featured in Encountering Ensemble, The Brooklyn Review, and Howlround Theater Commons. Pardo lives in Argentina with her husband and their toddler. You will find her cooking, hunting for weird mushrooms in the woods, or reading in her room when not writing.

Shamshine Blind is a satire crime noir novel set in an alternate 2009 world where the USA is the second-rate power in a world where emotions are weaponized through potent psycho-pigments. During Reagan’s era, there was a segment of either ABC’s 20/20, or Unsolved Mysteries shows where several police stations painted their cells pink. For a layman, some people would quickly conclude that the pink color was used to make the arrested men feel girly or wimpy. But the reality is that the cells were painted pink because the arrested people would calm quickly seeing pink color rather than the common grey colors. This made it easier for the cops to deal with the drunks.

Paz Pardo’s novel goes along the same lines. Imagine if colors were weaponized and also made an addictive drug that could flatten countries and also ruin people’s lives. Shamshine Blind is a sci-fi novel set-in dystopian America about colors, addiction, and how those in power criminalize emotions. Pardo tackles head-on what most writers wouldn’t in the 21st century. She choses a parallel history/fiction tract disguised as a satirical detective story and succeeds even when elements seem somehow corny, considering this is a 1940’s style investigative story alternate 2009.

The author also picks several core elements that she considers dear and near to her heart. For instance, the point where the story splits into an alternate universe is 1982, during the Falklands War. In the author’s telling, NATO and the US joined the UK against Argentina, but to their surprise, Argentina overpowered them. The warring countries could have signed a treaty for the existing borders, but Argentinian scientists somehow discovered psycho-pigments capable of creating super-emotion, which isn’t in humans. In response, Argentina devastates major American cities such as Denver, San Francisco, and New York while at the same time conquering the rest of the country.

Now you may be asking, how is it possible that the Contiguous United States under occupation from Argentina? Well, this does not represent the most improbable elements in the story. Instead, the ability of the main character, Agent Ka Curtida, to counter showdowns with a nemesis that wouldn’t think twice about killing mere mortals and emerge okay after a couple of days in the hospitals gives the story the feel of a Marvel comic.

Pardo creates a complicated three-dimensional plotline and characters to demonstrate how psychopigments are created using base color and luminosity. Her science, while made up, is logically coherent and completely believable. Some pigments, such as the euphoriant Sunshine, are rarely toxic and have spawned an illegal street drug industry that Curtida attempts to dismantle at the start of the book. Other colors, such as Magenta, Darker Blue, and Slate Gray, could cause permanent brain injury or death. Curtida must continually battle criminals utilizing these pigments to wreak mayhem and annihilate many people.

Curtida comes upon a crime syndicate whose goal is to create a population that uncritically supports a popular religious leader by creating new pigments such as lavender and mauve. During their investigation, cultists negotiate with right-wing terrorist organizations for color control. Certain agencies of the so-called United States government have gone renegade, cooperating with terrorists and cults. Some aspects in this section of the novel may allude to the emergence of the QAnon conspiracy in our world, which may be Pardo’s way of conveying its astonishingly simple to persuade people of utterly ridiculous lies and convince them to subscribe fully, to a holy manner, to populist politicians.

Pardo’s writing skills are at their best when he describes how the drug affects victims’ emotional reactions. In this alternative 2009, it is dangerous to travel through the rubble of San Francisco, and secondary cities such as Idaho and Iowa City are now the main metropolitan centres of occupied America. The novel is sufficiently colorful (in more than one manner) to propose a potential screenplay for a film, which is ideally right up Paz Pardo’s alley. Pardo could spin this off into a “PEA Agent Kay Curtida” series, which would appeal to both science fiction and mystery aficionados. But perhaps Pardo intends for this to be a one-off. If this is the case, many readers will be eager to see what other bizarre and unique worlds Pardo creates, as she has created an engaging, believable, and bizarre universe in her debut novel.

Additionally, topics of queer identity, racism, and privilege are examined. It’s invigorating to see a non-white, non-heterosexual detective duo in this crime noir, and Curtida feels isolated as she becomes the target of racist colleagues and superiors. These conflicts are realistically integrated into the narrative but not overwhelming. While the narrative does not shy away from detailing suffering and adversity, the writing is exceedingly compassionate.

Overall, The Shamshine Blind is an exciting blend of science fiction meets mystery reimagining a universe where colors have overtaken the world as we know it. There are a lot of exciting elements and themes in the story, especially the aspect of world-building. The author does not disappoint and details the fictional history and war that led to the creation of the psycho pigments in which a full spectrum of colors are assigned to emotions and feelings that impact people. The revelation of the case and all the clues are interesting. Different characters, casts, and plotlines make the story engaging from the first page to the last.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Paz Pardo

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