NORMAL by Warren Ellis


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After a futurist has a nervous breakdown in Rotterdam, he’s taken to a secret hospital in rural Oregon that may not be what it seems on the surface.

This is a fantastic digital-first novella by multimedium writer Ellis (Gun Machine, 2013, etc.) that will also be released in print. It follows up on Ellis’ previous digital FSG Original, Dead Pig Collector (2013). This book may be the perfect way to sample Ellis, drawing on his fascination with futurists and the threats imposed by ever faster technology and offering a story that employs his profane poetry to a degree that may inspire cackles from fans. The book’s protagonist is Adam Dearden, a brilliant man whose mind came apart following a confrontation in Namibia. He’s been secreted away to the “Normal Head Research Station,” a recovery facility for those like him. “He was a futurist,” Ellis writes. “They were all futurists. Everyone here gazed into the abyss for a living. Do it long enough, and the abyss would gaze back into you.” They’re a divided bunch: on one side, foresight strategists who work for charities, nonprofits, and universities (glass half full). On the other, strategic forecasters, the spooks who think all the water has dried up and the glass is shattered. Some patients yearn to go to “staging,” a promise of a sort of halfway house to transition the mad geniuses back into society. After one of his fellow patients disappears under a mass of writhing black insects, the inmates are warned that government investigators are coming to get to the bottom of things. Adam must form a ragtag alliance with his fellow prisoners, who include an urbanist with a little cannibalism challenge, a mad economist, and other allies who gazed too long into the abyss. Ellis even manages to bring his damaged hero to an epiphany, although it’s one that will scare the living hell out of anybody who truly ponders what the world is becoming.

A crackling, funny, and frightening horror story from a unique voice in genre lit.

Pub Date: Nov. 29th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-374-53497-4
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2016


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