(Review excerpt from Cyber-Psychos AOD #6.)
By John Shirley (Black Ice Books $7)
First the fear that I wouldn't get a copy was driving me over the edge... This is a collection of 6 short stories by (take a wild guess) John Shirley. The only one I'd previously read was the last one, Just Like Suzie, ah yes, I still remember how that one put me off of oral sex for quite some time. In fact, my boyfriend of the time still remembers considering what I was doing when I suddenly developed vivid imaginings of my jaw locking on, & my head getting sawed off. Oops, sorry, am I being somewhat vulgar? There were days when I could still be completely vulgar... John Shirley has a knack for drawing on the experiences of a somewhat sordid past for weaving tales that are realistic yet fantastic. Obsession, dissatisfied restlessness, prostitution, heroin, crack, aspects of the society crumbling around us. Though I loved them all, my favourite story was Equilibrium for the oh so sick concept behind the last sentence. Naturally I can't give that away, but the story itself is about a silly practical joker who takes on the job of restoring karmic equilibrium for a fellow soldier. Upon the family that drove him into the service, not the enemy. In Jodie & Annie On TV, the title characters develop a fetish for seeing their murderous stunts portrayed on the news. Well, you know, if you can't make it in show biz there are always other ways to get on the screen & make a name for yourself. I Want To Get Married, Says the World's Smallest Man... my only problem with this story is that I really wanted to get to read the perceptions of a person right up to the point of their exploding in a microwave, but I didn't get to. Oh well, that's hardly what the story is about. It's moreso about the desperation of addiction & the extremes that a jones can lead you to. Then there's Skeeter Junkie, yes, heroin, but also the fetish for a mosquito putting its proboscis through your flesh to exchange fluids. & a straight twist on life after death, fantasy fulfillment. &, as each story revolves around obsession in one form or another, Recurrent Dreams of Nuclear War Lead B.T. Quizenbaum Into Moral Dissolution involves a lonely man plagued by nightmares of nuclear war. At some point they become so much a part of his reality that they are no longer nightmares, they are the imminent future to which he feels importantly attached. Even with the fantastic elements of these stories, they are all very real portrayals of the extents that the human psyche can allow under the duress of obsession & addiction. Shirley is always highly recommended. -Jasmine Sailing
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