As part of his Philadelphia Weekly round up of new books by Philadelphia- and Pennsylvania-area authors, Josh Kruger writes about Daryl Gregory’s We Are All Completely Fine and James Morrow’s The Madonna and the Starship.
What happened if your claim to fame was surviving being partially eaten by a cannibal, and now you’re out of the limelight? Or, you were once a supernatural storybook hero and now all you did today was eat pills like they were Pez? You’d likely need to find a therapist or support group. And, that is exactly what State College-based writer Daryl Gregory envisions in his We Are All Completely Fine. The banality of modern psychoanalysis gets a serious rework with some intense violence, trauma, and good ol’ fashioned monsters called both “charming and horrifying.” Equal measures of comic book style fiction, zombie terror, and Gregory’s novella puts a group of outcasts with outlandish, horrifying backgrounds together in a support group led by psychotherapist Dr. Jan Sayer.
In 1953, Chief Halftown was greeting children in Philadelphia and television was enjoying its golden age. Award-winning science fiction writer James Morrow takes readers back to that year for another television character, Uncle Wonder, in his new novel The Madonna and the Starship. Uncle Wonder, played on television by protagonist Kurt Jastrow, greets children with fiery science experiments. His fan base isn’t just across the Eisenhower-era American nation, though: Unbeknownst to Kurt, and everyone else, distant aliens called Qualimosans enjoy Uncle Wonder’s antics. After all, every one of our broadcast television signals, even the terrible ones, radiate into outer space. Venturing to earth to present Uncle Wonder with an award, the aliens boost Kurt’s ego until it becomes clear that they want to annihilate humanity, too. Described as a “wildly imaginative and generous novelist who plays hilarious games with grand ideas” by the New York Times Book Review, Morrow seems to be tickling readers with another wonderfully absurd, and unnerving, plot.
For information on We Are All Completely Fine, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover design by Elizabeth Story.
For more on The Madonna and the Starship, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover and design by Elizabeth Story.