I’ve known the Vitkas for over a decade at this point. Some time ago, my fiancée Maria asked me to describe my friend William Vitka (the younger), as she had not yet met him.
I could’ve lied, and it’d be justifiable. The guy is only a few months my elder, but he’s transformed himself into a dynamo of writing despite my being stuck in an unending rut with a single novel for more years than I can count, and more unfinished projects than you’ve got skin cells. My jealousy levels are well over nine-thousand.
So when I could’ve just described William (Never “Willy.” Unless you’re his mother, more on his mom later) in an unflattering way, I wouldn’t have felt too badly about it. But I didn’t do it. And I won’t do it here, either.
For example, I could write that Vitka (the younger) is a morbidly obese man who picks week-old Doritos from his scraggly, wiry beard for sustenance while furiously jacking off to My Little Pony pornography. But I wouldn’t, because he’s just been too great of a friend.
And that would be wrong to do.
But I can say two things: He is an immensely talented, unerringly dedicated creator, and a fine pal.
And the ladies love him. Okay, that’s three things. Shut up.
So let me talk about William’s mother for a moment. I love her too much to even contemplate starting a “Yo Momma” joke.
No, the thing about William’s mother is that she is outgoing and friendly beyond measure. In many ways her personality is the polar opposite of the persona her son presents. She’s stable and funny, and great company.
So where the fuck does William get the crazy from?
Enter: Bill Vitka. That’s William Vitka (the elder) for those keeping score at home. When I met Daddy V, he was a radio broadcast journalist for CBS Radio. Actually, roll back the tape a bit: I had known William Vitka (the younger) for some time, but hadn’t yet met his father. I started working a job with middle-of-the-night-fuck-you-if-you-want-a-social-life hours, and took to listening to news radio, and that’s where I got my introduction to the man. I recall once saying to William that, “Hey, there’s some guy on the radio with the same name as you.” And he just rolled his eyes and sucked on a cigarette or drank some whiskey or something, I’m not sure which but the law of averages is on my side for this one so roll with it.
Bill is a brilliant man. He can talk your ear off about any topic, but it’s never boring, and you never find your mind drifting. Rather, you learn something new, or you start forming an opinion about something you never found yourself caring about before. That, right there, is the sign of a great mind. A mind tinted with the flashing strobe light disco erection colors of batshit insanity, sure, but brilliant nonetheless. But, credit given where it’s due: Bill Vitka is the person who introduced me to the works of Heinlein and Dick, so he can’t be all bad.
It was last year sometime that William (the younger) mentioned in passing that he and his father were collaborating on an epic science fiction novel they’d been noodling for some time. This concept chilled my veins and stopped my heart.
The rivers ran with blood and or whiskey. Newborns called for their mothers in Aramaic. Stars collided with one another. A two-headed ox was seen in the lowlands.
But fear not, my people, fear not: I have read the combined Words of the Vitkas, and it was not the terror that I had expected. It is, as point of fact, something quite unexpected.
I have personally witnessed both Vitkas (Vitkae? Vitkii? Vitkuses?) rail against the immeasurable stupidity of humankind. Both men, as far as I can tell, are Humanists who absolutely fucking hate humans. Like my dog wishes he was the only canine in existence, I am positive these two men sometimes wish they were the Last Men on Earth, free to rebuild civilization in their own nicotine-stained images.
So to read “Kulture Vultures and the Plot to Steal the Universe” comes as something of a shock. There’s a chance I’m way off base here, because as of this writing the novel hasn’t been finished yet, but I’ve got a feeling I’m on the up and up:
The novel is a goddamn love song about human culture.
Oh, sure, it’s weird and a little twisted at times, but what good ballad isn’t? Do you have any idea how many well-loved pop songs are about date rape?
That these two particular men are responsible might seem jarring on the onset, but it really isn’t. You see, the reason those two guys are so angry at us, the huddled mass of ignorant monkey morons, is because we disappoint them so sorely but they still love us.
The Vitkas love the fact that we have evolved and grown and Created.
Without giving away too much, the novel centers around the fact that another civilization—the Combine—is jealous of what we have Created. Jealous, and angered by the fact that humanity’s culture has become something of a virulent meme: something that’s forcefully making its way into the formerly independent vernacular and ways of thinking of the alien Combine. And fucking up their ratings.
The Combine love human culture, and they hate us for it. Is that not a blues song? Is that not a perfect pop song? Except for the ratings part. But that doesn’t invalidate my case at all.
I mean, it can’t be anything else. It doesn’t fall into the typical story summaries, like “a boy meets a girl,” “a man learns a lesson,” “someone goes on a journey” or their opposites, the categories in which most fiction can be shoved into. Alright, maybe there’s a tinge of “alien-male-meets-mammalian-cephalopod” but I don’t think that’s quite on the same level.
There’s a chance that I’m wrong. It could just be that something incredibly horrible happened, like… I don’t know, a scenario like this: Douglas Adams’ cremated remains were smuggled out of London, soaked with LSD at the peak of a comical running-away-from-cops sequence, and then mixed with cocaine. Some time later, said author-acid-coke made its way onto the glistening breasts of Polynesian love-slaves, and then up the noses and into the bloodstreams of both Vitkas, where it mutated their thought processes until the book was born.
This, however, is fairly unlikely.
So that said: “Kulture Vultures” is not a story, not really. It’s a love song in narrative form. The music is a little weird, but goddamn is it catchy. And that it was written by the two men you’d least expect to do it, makes it all the more special.
TL;DR, 5/5 Stars
“Kulture Vultures and the Plot to Steal The Universe” is presently only available online in serialized form at Curiosity Quills‘ publisher website.