Richard Calder

Richard Calder - novels

HarperCollins, UK, 1994

Dead Boys
HarperCollins, UK, 1994; St Martin's Press, US, 1996

'The sequel to Dead Girls is another perverse, stylish assault on the sensibilities of readers. Primavera, the cyborg-vampire - or Lilim - is gone but not forgotten; Ignatz Zwakh, her human lover, has her sexual organs pickled in a whiskey bottle. As Ignatz staggers through Asian bars and brothels in a haze of sex and drugs, Primavera's remains give him visions of a possible future where demonic "dead boys" - Elohim - exist to torture and kill Lilim, a nightmare world that might be reaching back to change the past Is Calder exploiting pain or condemning cruelty? Readers will have to wait for the third book in this troubling if fascinating and superbly written trilogy, Dead Things, to decide.'

'In our contemporary world of twelve-year-old killers and sixteen-year-old supermodels (who work in a field where burnout hits by age twenty), it takes little extrapolative power to forecast a future even more skewed toward the commodification of youth and beauty, sex and death. But to tease from such bare extrapolations their most outrageous implications, then to embody the theory in believable characters moving through an ultra-tangible world seen through a scrim of gorgeous, supercharged prose the likes of which SF has seldom enjoyed - Ah, that takes the perverse genius of a Richard Calder Calder's first novel was the astonishing Dead Girls The sequel, Dead Boys, carries forward the tale with all of the wild-eyed obsessional hysteria of its predecessor With its high-calorie, mucilaginous mix of Egyptology and Jack the Ripper, Nabokov and Beardsley, flesh and metaphysics, Dead Boys croons like Nine Inch Nails covering nostalgic music-hall ballads.'

'Richard Calder's Dead Boys is the sequel, natch (although its author's preferred title was Strange Genitalia), to Dead Girls, arguably one of the best, and certainly one of the richest and strangest, SF novels of the first half of the 90s As in Dead Girls, Calder brilliantly evokes a Third World seething with strange out-of-control technologies and polymorphous perversions, and sustains intense metaphorical riffs on the conjunction of sex and death It isn't an easy novel, and shows no mercy in either its frank depictions of shockingly cruel sex or its impacted self-swallowing plot, but there's no denying its disturbing originality '

'Like the nineteenth-century decadents who have so clearly inspired him, his strengths lie precisely in his imaginative excesses; a more cautious writer, less disposed to the wantonness of fantasy, could hardly have conceived these stories in the first place. A more proximate decadent influence might well be Angela Carter, to whose darkly exuberant fictions Calder seems to allude. Calder belongs to that small, but apparently growing, cadre of writers whose work crossbreeds the baroque reveries of Postmodern-Gothicists like Carter with the hyperreal info-vistas of cyberpunk When the author manages to synthesize his disparate influences into seamlessly personal prose, the result is often an astonishing outburst of lyricism.'
The New York Review of Science Fiction

'Calder's penchant for allusive wordplay redolent with references to B-movies and other SF stories produces scintillating dialogue '
Publishers Weekly