Writers from Clive Barker to Bruce Sterling and Roger Zelazny have praised John Shirley's searing, apocalyptic visions of postmodern hell on earth. Now this perversely brilliant author, one of the seminal representatives on the cyberpunk movement, unleashes his newest masterpiece.
The apocalypse has come and gone and demons prowl Earth, forging a path of violence and torture as they rampage across the planet. A few scientists, aided by a young San Franciscan artist, pool their resources in a bold maneuver to end the reign of these creatures. From the streets of America's cities to the heart of the Middle East, Shirley's latest novel, based on an earlier story, combines fast-paced action, outrageous science, and graphic horror in a novel suitable for large horror collections. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2001
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Excerpt from Demons by John Shirley
It's amazing what you can get used to. That was a platitude; now it summarizes life for everyone. It means something powerful now. People can get used to terrible privation, to famine, to war, to vast and soulless discount stores. Some got used to prison; some got used to living alone on mountaintops. But now...
This morning I saw a choleric-looking, pop-eyed sort of a middle-aged man in a threadbare suit stop his huffing old Volvo at a street corner, look about for cross traffic, accelerate slowly to creep across the intersection -- the traffic lights, of course, not having worked for a long time, not through the whole north of the state. And one of the demons turned the street to soft hot tar, the demon rising up, howling, from the stuff of the street itself, rows of fangs in the creature's absurdly big jaws gleaming and dripping. The demon was one of the Grindum clan -- giant grasshopper legs, insectile heads with just enough human about them to sicken: curling horns, big grinding jaws that move sideways or at an angle or revolve on their skulls like an owl's head on its shoulders. The Grindum swam in the hot asphalt with a conventional freestroke, humming some tune.
The Volvo began to sink in the steaming asphalt. The driver merely got a good grip on his briefcase, opened the car door, used the door handle for a ladder rung, ran along the roof of the car to the hood, and jumped to the curb. Landing rather neatly, he continued on his way, not even looking back, hurrying only a little. He didn't even turn around as the demon, chattering in Tartaran, snapped the door off the car and sailed it through the window of a bank. The bank was long closed, as most of them are now.
A woman came out of a bar, too drunk to heed the warnings of her friends, and the demon heaved the car atop her, his iridescent green-black scaly torso still half buried in the molten street. I wondered absently if he were standing on a pipe down there.
I had already turned away from the street corner and saw most of this by glancing over my shoulder, now and then, in a measured retreat. If you ran in panic, the demon was more likely to notice you and pursue, especially the Grindum clan. The Sharkadians, on the other hand, are more methodical: When they've selected a neighborhood, they'll stalk through it and cut you down as they find you -- or toy with you and leave you sorrowfully alive, wishing they'd killed you -- whether you're running or not.