Review: Sensation

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mamatas, Nick Sensation PM Press (May 1, 2011) ISBN-13: 978-1604863543

A mutant wasp stings a woman. If this were a Roger Corman movie, she would turn into a half-naked wasp-woman and perform soft-core scenes across Manhattan. It’s Mamatas, so instead, she suffers a deep personality change, dumps her inane husband and births an anarchist movement, which threatens the existence of the spiders that have secretly controlled our world for thousands of years.

Sensation is a slim book – I read it en route to a nearby camping trip, where I was attacked, not by wasps but by mosquitos – which should serve as an antidote to Book 7 of the Saga of the Wizards & Giants you’ve been reading. A happy, satiric, meandering little diddy.

A warning, though. This book is not recommended to:

  • People who demand linear plots with a Hero’s Journey.
  • Those who like their stories in the third person point-of-view. The aforementioned spiders speak using the “we” tense.
  • People who demand that speculative fiction contain a robot or a wizard with a pointy hat as proof of its speculativeness. We’ve got intelligent spiders that have steered the course of humanity and wasps that created Hitler, but that may not be enough for certain readers.
  • Those who seek “nice, likeable” protagonists. I had no problem siding with the spiders at one level because you’ve got to hate any damn parasitic wasp that decides to lay her eggs inside you. On the other hand, Julia ain’t no piece of cake and there are no loveable heroes.

If you’re cool with that, you’ll be treated to an ensemble of characters who discuss penis panic and trade pop culture references, and are all dissected with sardonic glee. The puns get a bit tired towards the end and the novel seems to lose steam at the three-quarters mark, but since it’s short, it’s all over and done in no time.

I could have used more over-the-top antics (The Internet goes down, but that’s not what I’d call over-the-top) and a heavier dose of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (Julia, the wasp-infected protagonist, does murder a real estate developer, but as far as rampages go, she ain’t no Tura Satana), but it’s still a gleeful book.

Gleeful. Yeah. That’s how I’d describe Sensation. It left me feeling quite happy with the world. It has a happy ending, too. What that says about me is for you to conjecture.

Anyway, buy it (it’s $15) or demand that your library purchase a copy. At the very least, it makes a great gift for your insect-phobic friend.

Sensation is available from

About Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia lives in beautiful, rainy British Columbia with her family and two cats. She writes fantasy, magic realism and science fiction. You can read her stories in Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing, The Book of Cthulhu, Evolve 2 and Tesseracts 13. She is the co-editor of Candle in the Attic Window, Future Lovecraft and Historical Lovecraft.

Silvia Moreno-GarciaReview: Sensation