Thursday, April 12, 2012
Here's a recommendation to get your summer reading off to a blazing start: The Liminal People by Ayize Jama-Everett. It's a first novel, and it has all the kinetic, hurtling passion of a thousand fresh ideas and a few new takes on classic sci-fi tropes.
On the surface, it's a book about superheroes living amongst us. There's the main character, Taggart, who can transmute his own body and the bodies of others in literally any way he can imagine; give someone asthma, give himself a new face, dissolve cancer before any symptoms appear.
Another character has such a deep emotional bond with animals that she can ask rats to sacrifice themselves for her, and compel dogs to chase a man down and tear him apart. There's a woman with hypnotic pheromones, and a man who can blow up anything with his mind.
These are the liminal people: a subculture of lonely and alienated humans, some of whom are driven mad by their powers while others manage to live relatively normal lives, suppressing any desire to explore their abilities.
If all this sounds suspiciously like an X-Men ripoff, think again. Jama-Everett creates an entirely new atmosphere of mystery and exotic noir, made creepier as every chapter passes and seemingly unanswerable questions arise. There is something almost Lovecraftian about the hints and half-explanations that the characters discover as the story progresses. The origins of their fantastic abilities have one foot planted in evolution, but the other is mired unsteadily in the unknowable murk of old gods and half-forgotten mythology. It's a brutal and unforgiving world to enter, and it ends too quickly at under 200 pages, but it's left wide open for a sequel, for which I will be impatiently waiting.
at 12:28 PM
tell all your friends!