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The Troika

Beneath the glare of three purple suns, three travelers – an old Mexican woman, an automated jeep, and a brontosaurus – have trudged across a desert for hundreds of years. They do not know if the desert has an end, and if it does, what they might find there. Sometimes they come across perfectly-preserved cities, but without a single inhabitant, and never a drop of rain. Worse still, they have no memory of their lives before the desert. Only at night, in dreams, do they recall fragments of their past identities.

But night also brings the madness of the sandstorms, which jolt them out of one body and into another in a game of metaphysical musical chairs. In their disorientation and dysfunction, they have killed each other dozens of times, but they cannot die. Where are they? How can they escape?

From this quest form, Stepan Chapman has fashioned a poignant and powerful story of redemption in which pathos is leavened by humor and pain is softened by comfort. It is the story of deranged angels, deadly music boxes, and cellular transformation. It is also the tale of Alex who wanted to be a machine, Naomi, who spent 20 years as a corpsicle, and Eva, who escaped the whale emperor of her native land. The novel alternates between the three characters’ attempts to discover where they are with their search for identity through the dream stories which reveal their fragmented pasts. The Troika’s satisfying conclusion brings closure to one of the most harrowing journeys ever into the heart of surrealism and the human soul.

This ebook edition has been revised by Chapman and can be considered the definitive version of his Philip K. Dick Award-winning novel.

What People Are Saying:

It’s always exciting to see a writer try something completely unlike everything else that’s out there…a pleasure to read. – Kathe Koja

…cornucopia with a cutting edge: a vivid phantasmagoria crowded with bizarre imagery. – Brian Stableford

Any book that can barely be described as a surrealistic, high energy tour-de-force is supposed to also be tedious and self-indulgent — but The Troika is an entertaining read as well as being brilliant and would even be a good companion on an airplane. Chapman is sure to be arrested for breaking the rules. – John Shirley

Let me start with a warning: this is a difficult book to read. You can’t skim it or read without your full attention like you can with — well, with almost everything. The characters switch bodies (or think they do), they’re unreliable narrators whose perceptions may not match reality, they contradict themselves, there are flashbacks and dream sequences galore. Only well into the book is it possible to even get any idea of what’s going on. As confusing as The Troika can be, it is very much worth the effort. Trust is required here. You’re on a drive, but someone else is at the wheel. Slide into the moment, enjoy the view and stop worrying so much about where you’re going. You *are* going somewhere, but the trip itself is the best part of the experience. There are stories and images in The Troika that will stay with me for a long, long time. There are passages in the book that are as beautiful and carefully sculpted as anything I’ve ever read: the line of girls with their tongues frozen to the parking meters; skating upside down along the bottom of the ice; the fish-headed sacrifice who escapes moments before her heart is cut out. I was reminded of Dick, Kafka and others, but Chapman’s voice is unique and original, and he clearly has a love of language and words. The Troika was one of the strangest books I’ve ever read, and among the best I’ve come across in several years. – Andrew Sasaki

Alex, Eva and Naomi are a jeep, an old woman and a dinosaur, respectively. Or maybe not. They’re walking across an endless desert and they can’t die. Or maybe not. The Troika by Stepan Chapman is truly an excellent book, witty, profane, brilliant, demanding… much like Samuel R. Delany’s ‘Dhalgren’ or Philip K. Dick’s ‘Valis’ but not derivative of anything, it plays around with identity, with history, mythmaking, delusion, good, evil, insanity and redemption. It rewards repeated readings, and is rapidly becoming one of my favorite books. – Matthew W. Rossi

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