cover image Everything Is Broken

Everything Is Broken

John Shirley. Prime (, $14.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-60701-292-4

In this slim, grim, and powerful novel, Shirley lets his imagination loose on the frightening possibilities of a massive natural disaster striking a small American town. A tidal wave transforms Freedom, Calif., from seaside idyll into a broken and perilously unstable landscape. Survivors include some natural helpers like Drew Haver and his son, Russ, as well as psychopaths Dickie Rockwell, a gang leader and drug dealer, and Lon Ferrara, the town’s ultralibertarian mayor, who privatized emergency services and now refuses help from FEMA. Treating women like commodities and wielding a plethora of weapons, these men fight for survival and ownership of the ruins. Shirley’s vision is vivid and horrifying, and it’s a testament to his talent that he makes this very unlikely instant-collapse-of-civilization scenario seem almost plausible. Agent: Guran Literary Services. (Feb.)