For such a concise story, there’s a lot of stuff thrown together in J.I. Greco’s Take the All-Mart!. An amalgam of mainly The Road Warrior, Fallout 3, Shaun of the Dead and others, All-Mart! is a thoroughly gonzo, strangely quirky story utilizing many of the popular themes found in serious and not-so serious sci-fi: post-apocalyptic wastelands, artifical intelligence & human interfacing, quasi-cyborgian drug use, and deification of William Shatner, along with a few merciless though good natured, large chested nuns, nanochines, and zombies thrown into the mix.
Terrifically linear, the story lacks the depth for the reader to fully contemplate Greco’s futuristic design. Instead, the reader hurtles along with our heroes Trip and Rudy through a haze of hot scrubland interrupted by dusty shantytowns, where the worship of beer is the raison d’être. Heading east and armed with no less than a full arsenal of sawed-offs and nipple-regulated THC infusions, our intrepid opportunists meander into nothing other than adventure, drawn inevitably toward the all-consuming mecha-tentacled maw of the mother of all convenience stores.
A character-driven work, All-Mart! revolves around the roguish Trip and sidekick Rudy, wastelanders looking for their next big score, whether beer, money, or other easily accessible drug. Priorities are rearranged when Trip meets Roxanne, belonging to The Sisters of No Mercy, adherents of charity work, environmentalism and polyamory, all in good proportion. Therein adventure ensues.
It’s not until nearly halfway through the work where the characters’ eccentricities and proclivities give way to the ominous All-Mart and its zombified inhabitants. Needless to say, it is a clever though unsubtle imagining of America’s megastore problem, but one not distracting from the story itself.
In sum, Take the All-Mart! is a fun, fast-paced story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and expects the same of the reader. “Sure as Shatner”, it delivers some chuckles along the way and makes things seem more tolerable in this hot summer readng season.