Through contact with interdimensional beings, a former Black Power activist releases a “thought-virus” that turns dogs wild and people into jackal-headed creatures resembling the ancient Egyptian god Anubis.
Edwards’ (The Dreams of Devils, 2012, etc.) second installment of the Nightscape series is a thinking man’s horror tale replete with associative memories, literary allusion, intellectual discourse, and references to Hegel, Plato, Malcolm X, Amiri Baraka, Sartre, and Athanasius Kircher, to name a few. Unlike some run-of-the-mill zombie apocalypses, this well-written, multilayered tale has depth and complexity; when people transform into monsters, it feels more like Ionesco’s Rhinoceros than Night of the Living Dead. The narrative begins by introducing various groups of characters, from cops to gangsters, dogcatchers to street people, all crafted into empathetic personalities, each ultimately facing the catastrophe. Sick and dying, Gaston, aka “Mister,” spends much of his time in a dream state in which he claims to communicate with telepathic aliens from the Sirius star system. Though even Mister doubts his own sanity, he hopes to trick the aliens and use their powers for some kind of race revolution, a plan he discusses with Khonsu, a street person who dispenses cerebral books to various inhabitants of the inner city. Meanwhile, as Detroit descends into a seething hellscape à la Hieronymus Bosch and the military begins shooting everyone on sight via drones, a supersecret black ops team with extensive knowledge of alien and interdimensional goings-on is working to remedy the situation while other cognoscenti attempt to foil them. Ultimately, from all this confusion and mayhem, an unlikely hero emerges. Edwards is a master of character building, and as random people morph into beasts, those left behind tend to ponder their inner landscapes as much as their outrageous circumstances. The intriguing, sometimes-confusing highbrow discourse adds a shade of believability to the pseudo-scientific psychobabble used to explain the unfolding chaos.
By turns entertaining, poignant, and heady, a thoroughly enjoyable thrill ride powered by jolts of philosophy.