Monday, August 24, 2015

Psychedelic horror science fiction

Skullcrack City

Jeremy Robert Johnson

Publisher: Lazy Fascist Press

Pub. Date: February 1, 2015

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Skullcrack City by Jeremy Robert Johnson is one of the wildest books I have read in a while and if it tends to run away from itself occasionally due to the wildly fantastic and manic ideas, it is still a lot of fun for your brain. The influences in this novel are many; I saw a little Hunter S. Thompson having lunch with William S. Burroughs due to the beginning with the obsession on drug-induced paranoia, lots of Phillip K. Dick, some clear body horror a la David Cronenberg...I think I even saw David Wong peeking to see who died at the end. But as any quality writing it is not so much who are the influences as what was done with all of it.

The strength in the novel is how everything comes together in a plot with many turns and perhaps too many characters. S. P Doyle (S. P Somtow and T. C. Boyle's illegitimate son? Just kidding.) is a banker who thinks he has a way to get wealthy and screw with the banking industry at the same time. Fueled by a rather vicious drug called Hex, he unwittingly uncovers something so big that he and others may be killed over it. His drug fueled hallucinations are suddenly unveiled as being very real and propels him into a battle between extra-dimensional creatures, very mad scientists, and a technology that only exists in your worst nightmares.

The fun is in not knowing where all this leads. But before it is over Doyle is questioning reality, his purpose in life, and falling madly in love. Doyle is sort of a stupid selfish person and it is to the author's credit that we stick with him through all his greedy idiocy. We end up wanting to see what he is really made out of in more ways than one. But the fun in Skullcrack City lies in the writing. Experimental at times, pulpish in a Phillip K. Dick sort of way at other times and always going at the speed of light. it is always fun to read. As mentioned at the beginning, it becomes a little too wild at points and runs into the risk of losing the reader. Yet most will enjoy the craziness provided you are not too squeamish. Body horror is a major factor here.

Skullcrack City spans a few genres. It is science fiction, transgressive psychedelica. horror, and always Bizarro. It will appeal to the more adventurous fans of all those genres. It will definitely be one of your strangest reads in 2015. An unique experience, It deserves to be read, enjoyed, and admired.

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