Editorial Review: Smart Pills by Tony Teora
Satirical and slapstick, Tony Teora’s Smart Pills is a sci-fi comedy that is sure to tickle the funny bone of fans who laugh out loud at Red Dwarf or Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Ineffectual and increasingly desperate time-traveling aliens are trying to find a new paradise to call home after the probable destruction of their homeworld and ongoing genetic tinkering that has transformed them into human-equivalent form. Captain Markus and his Astral crew range from bumbling slackers to an AI genius; with a tag-along alien called Junior who has its own agenda beyond simply driving the captain crazy.
After destroying four potential homeworlds by accelerating local evolution too fast until planetary destruction occurs, the focus is on Earth. A twist of tinkering with humankind’s Paleolithic ape ancestors gets the brain boxes expanding. But when the crew of the Aerostella drop in to check on progress; three crew members defect to ancient Egypt and inadvertently mess with evolution when they get stranded, are assumed to be gods, and get to spread their seed (and DNA) with prolific abandon.
Fast forward to contemporary times and Captain Markus is horrified to find his bumbling slackers have contaminated the gene pool. He accidentally contributes to the chaos by dropping a box of smart pills that are found and consumed by Squeaky Morano. The IQ-challenged mobster transforms from a napalm-fuelled arsonist doomed to incarceration or an early grave, into a wily genius who manipulates his way into the White House, before going totally bonkers and planning to nuke half the planet.
While comic tastes vary; you can expect that Smart Pills will either put a smile on your face or make you laugh out loud. There is plenty of slapstick chaos that is the inevitable result of trying to set a “little” fire with 200 drums of napalm, or dynamite fishing on a frozen lake with a helpful dog determined to retrieve the hissing stick.
And there’s more subtle humor and clever satirical digs that play on grand alien conspiracies such as just how those pyramids got built and whether they are interplanetary communication beacons. Or how a presidency can be purchased.
Teora includes additional entertaining elements by introducing each chapter with pithy observational quotes that demonstrate he can appeal to both those seeking lighter entertainment and those who note the more subtle nuances of satire.
Smart Pills jogs along at a good pace. It has a great opening, followed by a slower stage of scene during the writer’s exposition of the alien history. Flicking from era to era and key players on Earth and in space keeps the reader alert and turning pages to piece together the tale. If you need a giggle and appreciate a writer who winds urban mythology and conspiracy into clever entertainment, take your Smart Pills!