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4.1 out of 5 stars
Black Butterflies
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Showing 1-4 of 4 reviews(4 star)show all reviews
on November 19, 2001
Black Butterflies is a collection of overtly horrific stories written by cyberpunk pioneer John Shirley. Sadly the tales are evenly divided into either 'This World' or 'That World' sections, allowing the reader to know in advance whether there is to be a supernatural twist or not, which robs the stories of more than a little zing of surprise.
Weakness of presentation aside, the stories themselves are a mixed bag. Some, notably 'What Would You Do For Love' (which could qualify as a cyberpunk romance story), the commute nightmare 'Cram', and the real life inspired 'War and Peace', are quite fresh and invigorating. While others, 'The Rubber Smile' especially (which shares an identical irony laced ending with Shirley's early horror novel 'Cellars'), are nothing but shop worn cliches trotted out yet again and presented as if they were hip and fresh, which they aren't. More than a few are variants on a particular theme and suffer from being too close together (i.e. 'You Hear What Buddy and Ray Did?' and 'The Footlite' in particular). In the end though, Shirley's strong and distinct voice does give each dark hearted tale its own unique character that sticks with the reader long after the tale is done. The Horror Noir crowd should find it interesting.
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on August 14, 2003
This book of short stories is divided into two sections, This World and That World, which deal with everyday horrors and otherworldly horrors respectively. Of these two sections, the first is the most successful, which mostly involve the shocking realities of the underbelly of society, evoking a hybrid of John Rechy and Stephen King, and hitting you with the impact of a screwdriver to the kidneys (the best of these, "Cram", will have you thinking twice about ever getting on the subway again). The second section, comprising more outright horror, is less successful (By far the best of these is "Delia and the Dinner Party"). Though Shirley is a very vivid writer, the shocks in these stories seem mostly arbitrary and forced compared to those in the first section. Still worth checking out, though. I also docked him some points for using rock lyrics as titles-- he's much too good a writer to be slumming like that.
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on January 2, 2004
This collection isn't for the faint-of-heart, nor for the easily offended. John Shirley holds nothing back, and these stories are thoroughly chilling, sexually perverse, and from a world we don't really want to know. We meet characters we don't really want to know such as the title lady in the first story, "Barbara", a victim of a carjacking who in her weirdness takes over the situation and takes her carjackers into her own perverted world. Then there's the cop who suspects his partner has murdered his own wife. A subway trip during an earthquake. A probing into the psyches of slasher movie fans. A televangelist telecasting from one of the most satanic appearing rock cafes. An immortal slaughtering Earth's remaining population. These are stories to be taken one at a time. Maybe they're not all great, but you'll find several you won't forget.
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on July 31, 2001
This dark collection of stories was very interesting. Take a nightmare, and imagine it being warped, twisted, and then shown to you in print. John Shirley had one or two stories in there that I've read again, simply because they were so powerful. Others, I read, and promptly flushed from my memory banks... If you're looking for spooky, violent and fairly sexually themed stories, this is good. If you're easily offended, or have a weak stomach, skip this...
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