THE SUBNORMS by Jeff Gonsalves


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Eye-opening global meltdown yarn from newcomer Gonsalves and this Philadelphia-based small press. In this near future, pollution, radioactivity, holes in the ozone layer, and a rampaging virus have combined to produce widespread genetic mutations. The mutants, all with some physical deformity or oddity, often have psychic powers too. Hated and feared by the undamaged majority, they’re called Subnorms. A special department, the Customs Bureau, deals with the Subnorms by torturing them into revealing their “agenda,” i.e., whatever dangerous psychic power they possess. Weary Customs operative Chandler Dixon’s near the end of his tether: his son, Nathan, has been kidnapped; his wife, brain-damaged attempting to prevent the kidnap, lies comatose. For some reason, Chandler’s handed a series of exceptionally difficult cases: a kid who can mentally char organic matter; hallucinogenic, telepathic rats; a baby with a variety of powerful psychic powers; and a huge, powerful, albino firestarter named Melvin Bishop, who may have had something to do with Nathan’s kidnapping. Chandler’s only ally is Chuck Anderssen, a Subnorm telepath employed by the Bureau. Slowly, reluctantly, Chandler must deal with his own Subnorm tendencies and developing mental powers—powers that eventually will lead him to Nathan's captors and a new perspective on life and the future.

The plot’s none too rigorously worked out, and the splatterpunk tendencies run out of control but, overall: graphic, energetic, and packing a dizzying emotional wallop.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2000
ISBN: 1-891696-11-4
Page count: 190pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2000