Nobody can ignore it in today's society -- people who claim that they are fighting God's battles, and prove that they aren't by their own actions.
That's the central message of "Just Another Judgement Day," the ninth volume of Simon R. Green's Nightside series. And despite its flip title, this is one of the more philosophical and serious trips into the dark side of London -- lots of meditations on people who commit atrocities in God's name. And, fortunately, lots of vintage Nightside weirdness too.
First, John and Suzie are asked by the foppish Percy D'arcy to find out why his friends aren't aging. When they explore an elite clinic, they find a ghastly "Dorian Grey"-style setup run by a notorious mad genius -- Dr. Frankenstein.
Then the main story: Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does the Nightside -- with the Authorities dead, a new ruling gang has been chosen. And unexpectedly, Walker wishes John Taylor to meet the new Authorities (most of whom don't like him), especially since the Walking Man -- "the wrath of God in the world of men" -- is coming to the Nightside. He is invincible, unstoppable, merciless and immune to sorcery and science alike.
And they want John to stop him somehow. Nice easy job, huh? Unfortunately John's talent is no use as the Walking Man cuts a bloody swathe through the Nightside, the Street of the Gods, and the decidedly guilty individuals there. John and the monster-killing Chandra set out to find the only ghastly weapon capable of stopping the Walking Man -- but even that may not be enough to save them.
"Just Another Judgement Day" has Simon R. Green's typical cocktail of Nightside insanity -- Druid terrorists, sex-reversed extradimensional copies of John and Susie, the Lovecraftian Church of the Unspeakable Abomination, and zombie detectives. It even has some cameos by familiar faces such as Razor Eddie, Jessica Sorrow, Walker, and the lovable Julian Advent.
But despite this weirdness, Green is unusually serious in this book -- there's less witty banter and more focus on the difference between God's will and those who use it as a justification for murder. About halfway through, Green's writing explodes into a spray of death, gunshots, pitched battles and the occasional deflated squid-monster deity. Not to mention the Speaking Gun (yes, again), which is as gross and malignant as ever.
Fortunately about halfway through Green realizes that this is getting a bit too grim, so he inserts some mildly gross comedy in the form of a traffic tunnel that eats cars ("I used my gift to find its gag reflex") and some fun religious pamphlets ("Join the Church of the Undecided. Or don't. See if we care. We're only printing these things as a tax dodge").
But fortunately things don't get too light, and Green keeps a steady hand on Taylor's quest against the Walking Man and Chandra's crisis of faith ("Few of them were in any way worthy of the God they claimed to worship"). And he manages to pull an intriguing turnabout in the penultimate chapter, when John unearths the one way to stop the Walking Man.
And this is a pretty deep book for Taylor, whose own beliefs have been a bit nebulous but who is clearly against random supernatural-vigilantism, which makes him a good foil for the quirky, morally upright Chandra ("I have to get a new agent") who develops a very personal spiritual reason to fight the Walking Man. Walker demonstrates his more human side with his fondness for Taylor, and "black leather Valkyrie" Susie makes some progress on her post-rape phobias.
"Just Another Judgement Day" is one of Simon R Green's less humorous urban fantasies, but it touches well on a timeless topic. And it has Lovecraftian monsters as well.