Dead Girls, Dead Boys, Dead Things Paperback – Feb 15 1998
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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 AgeSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
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... Read morePublished on March 16 2002
"Dead Girls Dead Boys Dead Things" is a profound book for those with the patience, vocabulary and literary mastership to undertake it. Read morePublished on Jan. 8 2001
Beautifully written poetic epic about true love in a world gone utterly mad. The narrative style reminded me of William Faulkner's "Sound and the Fury" while the plot is... Read morePublished on May 18 2000
This trilogy is without a doubt the finest piece of writing I have read this year. This series is not for all but if you like Jeff Noon or Michael Moorcock you must pick up this... Read morePublished on March 5 1999