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July 2001
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Cosmic Banditos by A. C. Weisbecker (1986)

Cosmic Banditos appeared in a decade when drugs, sex, science, and crime were frowned upon. Yet this cheerfully immoral novel romped with them all. Then it vanished—apparently, like the quark, having only a tendency to exist.

Our narrator is a once-normal American guy who now hangs out in the Caribbean with grenade-happy spooks, B-29-flying freaks, lovable Banditos, and misunderstood Dope Lords. Together, they're engaged in marijuana smuggling, automatic-weapons blasting, drug consumption (our narrator succumbs to "intense social pressure"), and you name it.

During a dip in their fortunes, our narrator's Bandito friend Jose mugs a vacationing physicist and his family, and physics books in the loot cause the trouble that ensues.

Studying the books, our narrator realizes there must be an Underlying (Subatomic) Reality to the possibly illusory world of Banditos and Dope Lords—so he and Jose set off to confront the physicist and figure out what's really going on. (They may also tell him that they have reason to believe his daughter Tina is a person of loose morals.)

Along the way, we're introduced to the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (including Alternative Banditos), to the Double Slit Experiment (a Bandito assault), and to Schrödinger's Bandito. In short, our narrator explains each scientific concept in layman's terms . . . if the layman happens to be a Bandito.

"Not much is known about A. C. Weisbecker," the endnote says, "and A. C. Weisbecker wants to keep it that way." This year's publication of Weisbecker's memoir In Search of Captain Zero will no doubt thwart that desire---but it may or may not prompt a new edition of Cosmic Banditos to pop into existence as well.

Schrödinger's Bandito will decide.

—Bradley Denton

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