(Silver Salamander 4128 Woodland Park Ave N, Seattle WA 98103)
This is a collection of 12 short stories following the themes of urban decay in the close of this millennium. CPAOD readers should recognize one story at least, The Meat in the Machine, largely because it was in CPAOD6. Should that give indication of what this collection is like? Yes, perhaps. At least in the areas of imagery & basic emotion. In each story you will find the coldness of the human machine, whether that is through technology or lack of social warmth. The human being becoming as programmed & distanced as the metallic creatures they have created. No robots are present, aside from those human ones whom have overly well measured the step of their surrounding environment. The 1st story, Godflesh, is about an amputee fetishist society. Sex with a stubbed ankle. Living contentedly & far more transcendentally among the pitying stares of non-cripples. Apparently Brian managed to come close enough to true desires on this one to be contacted by an actual amputee fetishist society over it. Oh, the temptations in life. The 2nd story, Childhood in the Lost and Found, really bugged me. I spent the intro thinking "Oh, God, what are you doing with this hip Generation X pap?". I spent the rest cringing -- partially from the pain of the story, partially from being forced to relate so well with the previously mentioned hip pap. Which, of course, wasn't actually pap; I'm just too jittery about MTV slack-jawers. I don't know if it bothered me more to look at it from the perspective of a once alienated kid or from that of a parent. I know I did a lot of reflecting on how often I tell my kids I love them (which is rather incessantly, they're my joy in life), & recognizing all too well that it is overtly normal for people to seem devoid of emotion these days. Even recently I've experienced too heavy of soul-shrivelling coldness from "loved ones". It really bothered me in the perspective of the times I felt completely alone & terrified in the world, & couldn't seem to get anyone's attention long enough to ask them for help. Oh, the reactions that can inspire in you. The actions such a feeling does inspire in this story. The next story, Androgyny, might also sound familiar to readers CPAOD6. Remember that interview portion wherein he related the inspiration caused by his dream of being covered in nipples (growing from his flesh)? Here's that story. Naked Lunchmeat is a cute parody of, well, if you can't figure out which book it's based on you're likely in the wrong place at the moment. It's a zombie story. The zombies happen to have a very well-loved drug in their brains. Chisel in a straw & suck it out. Yum yum. & don't let Dr. Amway study you! Cancer Causes Rats has a serial killer giving his views on what mass media brings to society, through the powerful influence of TV news. Mostly Cloudy, Chance of Kurt is suicide, Heartsick is ossification of the heart, The Meat in the Machine gives a very industrial (as in the imagery behind the music) view of addiction & obsession. I can't claim that In a Roadhouse Far, Past the Edge of Town did anything for me. The post-notes about it being reminiscent of Natural Born Killers are accurate & that movie never managed to rate higher than "cute" with me. Extinctions in Paradise is a lovely little werewolf tale about routinely murdered clans of street children in South America, the yet worse corruption (via right-wing fundamentalists) of freedom of speech (freedom to speak without being murdered for your views) in the States, & the general lack of difference in the positive effectiveness of the establishment anywhere. Extract also bugged me. I don't think I was paying close enough attention at first, not quite grasping the concept of a tooth demon as opposed to a tooth fairy. I think I'm a little skittish about fictitious kids & any suffering that should be inflicted upon them. The grand masterpiece in this collection is the final story, a novella entitled Liturgical Music for Nihilists. Nihil is a new God, preaching musica mundana, being created, becoming the faith of his creators. He sprang from a suiciding junkie in an abandoned slaughterhouse. The story is told from the perspective of Angus, who was friends with Nihil prior to his ascension to godhood. See here the results of a flaky & overly whitebread upbringing, & its escape to the decaying city. This is definitely a collection worth reading.