Bizarro Blursday: Cassie-la Reviews “The Crud Masters” by Justin Grimbol

The Crud Masters by Justin Grimbol (Submission)
Genre: Bizarro fiction, monsters, robots, I want to ride a Dagoon
Rating: 3.35 out of 5 stars

Summary: The Crud Masters is a re-imagined version of The Outsiders, complete with character named Soda Can and a class struggle pitting the weak against the strong, in a town where the underdog never wins. In this strange world full of sex robots, monsters that populate shorelines, and a subculture that involves modifying your body to the extreme, two rival gangs: the Crud Masters and NOLA are about to have a rumble.

Welcome to the first official Bizarro Blursday here on Bibliomantics, in which we review bizarro literature on a random day of the week. The genre is bizarre, so why not be bizarre ourselves and post whenever the fancy strikes us? Anything goes on Bizarro Blursday!

Due to a new imprint called the New Bizarro Author Series from the seminal bizarro publishing company Eraserhead Press, we have been getting an influx of submissions. Hence the creation of a completely new posting day and category to accommodate it. The concept is simple: the series is a vehicle for new authors in the genre to show and prove themselves. If they sell enough of their book within a year, they will be picked up by the publisher and allowed to write more. To learn more about the bizarro fiction genre, please read THIS post.

So, if you like the premise, BUY THE BOOK! The authors needs you, the reader, to help them during this trial period.

In this novel there are two warring factions, the Crud Masters, who take the place of the Greasers and the NOLA, who take the place of the Socs. The Crud Masters are the poor, sleazy yet loveable underdogs and the NOLA are the rich, stuck up preps that you know would win in real life, but you hope will be knocked down a peg in fiction. Fiction, where even the 1% get what’s coming to them.

Running parallel to this human class struggle, there is the added addition of robots and monsters, who end up in their own power shift. The robots and monsters each represent a different social caste, the expensive, shiny robots aligning themselves with the NOLA and the volatile, looked down upon by the public beach monsters who continually wash up on shore, called Dagoons representing the Crud Masters. Their name is possibly inspired by HP Lovecraft’s “Dagon”, about short story a hideous sea creature. Yes, the Crud Masters have a robot of their own named Soda Can (Soda Pop, Soda Can, get it?) but he is a discolored sex robot and unlike the NOLA and their transformer Swagatron, he cannot make appletinis. JD would love this robot.

Another institution in Grimbol’s world is a subculture known as Moddys, body modification junkies who take it to the extreme. There are characters who alter themselves to look like Klingons (if you are a “Star Trek” fan you will love all the references in this novella) and even a woman nicknamed Pussy Bear, who has the exact features of a bear with the exception of her large humanoid breasts. Think of that crazy man who turned himself into a lizard, or the tiger man except as common occurrences in regular society. Yes, this is set in the future.

In terms of characters, Snuggles is perhaps the most likeable. He’s big and cuddly and picked upon by others, particularly NOLA and you cannot help but feel for him. Especially when he’s walking around in his Star Trek uniform as if it’s the most normal thing in the world. He incites in others a desire to want to shelter him from the cruel harsh world, which is precisely what his best friend and fellow Crud Master, Boogers (named for an extreme allergy problem) does. Plus he reminds me of Snuggles the fabric softener bear.

On the other side of the coin is the Crud Masters version of Cherry, the girl who is unlike all the other NOLA kids/Socs. See the Cherry/Pony Boy relationship for more insight. Unlike the original Cherry though, this girl is laden with a strange, disturbing smelling pheromone that holds everyone around her under her spell, from sea monsters to her own brother. For some reason, in bizarro fiction authers seem to think they need to add gross bodily functions into their narratives. I disagree with this tactic. Weird and gross are not mutually exclusive.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the new slang I learned reading this book, called “Porky Pigging It”. This is when a person wears a shirt but no pants. As in, “He was so drunk he was Porky Pigging It all through town”. I’m sure if you chose, you could also call it “Donald Ducking It”, or whichever pant-less anthropomorphic animal you prefer.

The one glaring problem I have with this novella is the anticlimactic ending. I was laying in bed reading  and was immediately confused when I hit print ads; this is because the story had suddenly ended. Suddenly and inexplicably. I went back and re-read the last few pages assuming I had zoned out and missed something, but no, what I had read was the ending, and in my mind it wasn’t a very conclusive one.

THE GOOD:
-Creative premise inspired by a classic novel
-Robots and monsters the best combo since zombies and dinosaur
-Makes me wish Klingons existed in real life

THE BAD:
-Anticlimactic ending
-Dislike pheromone laden girls who need to bathe

Again, I cannot stress this enough… If you would like to read this novella, please BUY IT! It’s only $5 as an eBook, and how could you go wrong with a book about robots, monsters, and gang members in a world where women can be bears and transformers make mixed drinks?

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