Has the World Ended Yet?
From the first page of the opening story “The Bacchae,” when readers learn that “Loki sleeps in alleys... Mars runs a hedge fund that preys on distressed companies... [and] Dionysus makes sex dolls in a Los Angeles warehouse,” it is clear that this collection is an off-kilter treat. Darbyshire (The Warhol Gang
) delights in mashing pop-culture genres together, exposing profound truths beneath classic tropes in ways at once hilarious, weird, and heart-breaking. In the titular story, an aging superhero reclaims his lost sense of purpose on the day when angels begin to fall from the sky. In “Deja Yu Makes the Pain Go Away,” an executive discovers that “the second-worst thing about being dead is you have to keep working.” “The Calling of Cthulhu” has H.P. Lovecraft’s tentacled god working for a temp agency because “god of war, gateway to the apocalypse, and earth devourer are no longer acceptable callings.” A hit man is assisted by a talking blow-up doll in “You Shall Know Us by Our Vengeance.” Molox, “the Infernal Gatekeeper to Hell…[now] known as the Processing Clerk, Department of Admissions and Exits,” struggles with the paradox of “The Only Innocent Soul in Hell.” What is most impressive in Darbyshire’s wild tales of demons, ghosts, zombies, and deity salesmen is his clear understanding of what it is that makes humans so human. (Nov.)