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Dead Girls, Dead Boys, Dead Things [Paperback]

Richard Calder
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 15 1998
This extraordinary trilogy depicts a future gender war that crosses the boundaries of software, wetware, time, and reality itself in its imaginative leaps and bounds. Only love holds the future together in this tale of star-crossed teens whose transformations defy description or imagination.

To read this trilogy is to behold a strange new world, one unlike any other.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Imagine a writer who combines the stylistic complexities of Gene Wolfe with the sexual perversity of Poppy Z. Brite. Add a dash of cyberpunk and a double measure of the paranoia that fueled Philip K. Dick's best work. This might give you some dark presentiment of what Calder's fiction is like, but your imagination would probably fall well short of the mark. In his newest novel (after Dead Things), Calder imagines a future when virtual reality and the Net have created an alternate universe of artificial intelligences, many of whom have been downloaded into corporeal form. Much of the world's population, both human and virtual, has become obsessed with pornography and sado-masochism, and Earth's repressive governments have concluded that children are at the demonic center of the sexual madness that has overtaken the planet. As the novel opens, one downloaded AI, Dahlia Chan, former star of such pornographic and pedophiliac adventure films as Kung-Fu Nymphet from Hell, and Zane, her most obsessive (and sexually obsessed) fan, flee across the wastes of Antarctica in search of Cythera, a perhaps mythical Eden where humans and AIs can live as equals. In succeeding chapters, a variety of characters, many of them alternate-universe versions of Dahlia and Zane, most of them sexually perverse, undergo a variety of adventures, assignations, revolutions and tortures, all part of their grand and extremely convoluted quest for Cythera. Calder is a writer of undeniable talent, but it's hard to envision his intended audience. Perhaps he's writing for aficionados of both the Marquis de Sade and William Gibson or, conceivably, for those who prefer their Philip K. Dick mixed with a little J.K. Huymans. In any case, he's definitely an acquired taste.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Fascinating and superbly written." --Starlog

"One of the stranger SF series of recent years...Calder's mix of violent and graphically sexual images and dizzily recursive explications of SF tropes blended through a reality mixer is unsettling, genuinely exotic, and fiercely intelligent. Highly recommended. --Paul J. McAuley, Interzone

"A literary head kickc, pushing gender and bio-tech buttons as hard as something like Neuromancer pushed the romance of digital criminality." --Richard Kadrey, author of Kamikaze L'Amour

"A future world as rich, dense, and intricate as any in recent SF."--Rob Latham, The New York Review of Science Fiction

"The trilogy holds many rewards, cerebral and aesthetic." --Publishers Weekly

"Stunning...a wild trilogy" --Science Fiction Age

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They smashed through the door; I vaulted the balcony, running. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Place Where Nobody Dares To Go March 16 2002
I have read only the first and last of Mr. Calder's magnum opus. I ache to possess the rest. I look up from his pages as though through a deep mist; my heart palpitates, my scalp twitches, & I wonder at this lackluster earth. Seriously, sometimes I need a nightcap of Rimbaud just so I can get grounded enough to sleep, to dream... His writing is the worst kind of drug, the best kind of drug: it is morbid addiction (unto death), flesh of the gods. To read him once is to read him always.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Teenage Mutant Robot Vampires March 13 2001
The title for this review is a four word summary provided by a classmate in a seminar this evening. It nicely encapsulates the problems many of us had with Calder's effort.
The first book is the strongest of the three, spending most of its time focussed on a rather twisted story of young lovers on the run. The second book is the weakest of the three, spending way too much time on the central theme of the eroticising of sexual torture and death and working through a mind-numbing series of permutations and combinations of same. The third book tries to tie together the various shreds and bits of plot scattered among the bits and pieces of dead girls and boys from the first two books and, ultimately, fails. The conclusion of the trilogy ends up being a series of explanations for the events in the books, some more or less absurd than others. The ending, after all of the suffering portrayed in the trilogy, is trite and unsatisfying.
Calder's plotting is a weak point, but his writing style is interesting. If the journey is the reward, the telling of the story in the Dead trilogy is at least a partial reward. He covers much trodden ground (Naked Lunch, Videodrome, Blade Runner, American Psycho) in some new and interesting ways. His vocabulary left me scrambling to look words up.
In the end, the absurd plotting and overly long presentation made "Dead Girls, Dead Boys, Dead Things" a disappointment.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Much ado about nothing, sadly Feb. 17 2001
Wipe the cyber-eroto-quantum gick from the face of this self-importantly bizarre trilogy of books and you're left with a story so contrived and goofy that even Alfred Bester would have turned up his eyes at it. Noisy nonsense about a plague of vampire girls who're infecting the world, told through the eyes of a British refugee who's grown enamored of one of these lethal ladies.
Eventually the plotting and the sub-fanfic ludicrousness of the whole affair gets the better of it and leaves it smouldering in a wreckheap of tarted-up wordplay. The plotting is bewildering enough and yet at the same time contrived enough to be sufficiently appealing to those who think William Gibson was a pansy -- this guy makes Gibson look downright tame, sure, but is that kind of goal really worth aiming for? Jive highbrow gibberings about idea-viruses and other such things don't make the story any more credible.
It's probably possible to contort yourself into a position where this sort of cold, unpleasant junk represents a major statement of some kind, but those whose hip credentials don't depend on it shouldn't bother.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dead Girls Dead Boys Dead Things Jan. 8 2001
By A Customer
"Dead Girls Dead Boys Dead Things" is a profound book for those with the patience, vocabulary and literary mastership to undertake it. It is not for the weak of heart; it has both graphic sexual and violent content, however they are presented in an artful (if not at all times tasteful) way. Although the plot may be difficult to follow if you're not devoted to the story, it is well worth it if you have the patience to overcome the somewhat obscure vocabulary used in the book; however, I feel that Calder's lyrical form of narration and description, founded upon his obscure but far-reaching vocabulary are one of the book's most endearing qualities. Anyone who wants a good challange, who enjoys sci-fi or who likes books which take unexpected twists and turns, finally concluding in an unforseen ending will enjoy this book immensly.
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Richard Calder's DEAD GIRLS breaks new ground in a once-innovative literary movement that has unfortunately become stagnant in recent years. All of you cyberpunk fans are familiar with William Gibson's NEUROMANCER, and although we all owe the inventor of cyberspace a debt of gratitude, it is obvious that Gibson's brilliant novel spawned a slew of imitators seeking to capitalize on the popularity of hard-edged futuristic prose. Calder is different. This is not prose at all, this is high-voltage poetry; this is rampant, blood thumping word art. I couldn't stop reading. Don't bother trying to dissect the proposed technology in DEAD GIRLS, or waste energy researching the occasional windy vocabulary word, just absorb the ambience. Grant Calder his post/retro-apocalyptic-adolescent-vampire premise. Somehow he makes it work. Just be happy he let you tag along for the ride.
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