Dead Things

Richard Calder, Author St. Martin's Press $21.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-312-15103-4
Add a dash of postmodern gothic, a dollop of William S. Burroughs's Nova Express and a pinch of Angela Carter's The Passion of New Eve. Stir in a healthy (or perhaps not so healthy) serving of material from the alt.sex.fetish newsgroups on the Internet. Allow the mixture to steep overnight in a sauna. The result might well be something like what Calder has concocted in this final addition to his much praised, ever-so-noir SF horror trilogy (Dead Girls; Dead Boys). Lord Dagon, a sexually perverse superhuman Dead Boy, has returned to Earth to destroy Meta, a ""cognitive virus."" Meta has altered the very history of the universe and created on Earth a monstrous world of sex vampires called Dead Girls or Dolls, for whom human beings are little more than cattle. But is Dagon really who he thinks he is, or is he Ignatz Zwakh, the hapless sex slave of the Doll Primavera? Or is he an automaton, a nonhuman, self-aware vehicle for the Reality Bomb with which the Toymakers hope to destroy the universe Meta has created? This difficult novel is not for readers who are offended by highly perverse sexuality, and it is likely to be opaque to those not familiar with its predecessors. Calder is a fine stylist, however, and the complex history and nano-biology he has created for his Dead novels is fascinating. The trilogy holds many rewards, cerebral and aesthetic, for those willing to persevere. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/30/2000
Release date: 11/01/2000
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