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Thursday, June 21, 2012

An Invitation to Michael Cisco's Fiction (by Liviu Suciu)

Michael Cisco (Website with excerpts from a few of his novels HERE and Blog HERE) is a name which comes up often when people talk about exceptional authors who are not well known. For some years now I have been trying to read his work as I have started to buy his books from The Tyrant on and it seems that now with the recent publication of his latest novel Celebrant, the time has come as his prose started really clicking for me too. While I plan to review his books here as I go through them, here is an invitation to his work with blurbs for each of his most recent five novels.

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Celebrant (2012)

The latest novel from Michael Cisco (The Narrator, 2010, The Great Lover, 2011), Celebrant is the story of deKlend’s search for the mystical city of Votu, where time runs backwards, deified robots arise naturally in the mountains like mysterious rock formations, and gangs of vagrant orphan girls scavenge for survival whilst engaging in strange rivalries and alliances.
With a Miyazaki-like sweep of fantasy, and the Calvinoesque imaginative appeal of a guidebook to another world, this initiatory novel of reincarnation, pilgrimage, and discovery, experiments with other ways of locating yourself.

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He lives in the sewers... and in the black world between stations... the trains shrilly call to one another blind and massive in the dark - black rushing silence, rent by screaming trains ... Like the hideous angler fish of the ocean's deepest places, he is an otherworldly scavenger drifting in currents heavier than avalanches, slow as glaciers, a sea wasp with a bridal train of tingling nerves that drift in the sewage time and again tangling in women's dreams. From Michael Cisco, author of The Divinity Student, comes a visionary novel of eros and thanatos. The Great Lover, the sewerman, is the undead hero who nonetheless carries the torch of libido and life. Mischievous Frankenstein, uproarious cartoon demon, mascot of the subway cult, witch-doctor of feculent enchantment and weary veteran of folies d'amour, he stands, or shambles, as our last champion against the monochrome, white-noise forces of Vampirism.

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The Narrator (2010)

 In Michael Cisco’s The Narrator, the narrator Low is conscripted into an army to fight against the “blackbirds,” who possess lighter-than-air armor. But first, our hero must play a waiting game in a city of cannibal queens and uncanny dead things, with priests for both the living and the dead. The Edak, strange remnants of a mighty imperial power, must be avoided at all costs. Once mobilized, he sets off on a journey that is by turns absurd, surreal, deadly, and one of the great feats of the imagination thus far in this new century. The novel is possibly also the most neglected of the year. Michael Cisco, the Amerikan Kafka, deserves your attention.

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The Traitor (2007)

Cisco (The Tyrant) ups the ante for provocative dark fantasy by giving this coming-of-age tale a subtle metaphysical edge. While still a boy, sensitive Nophtha realizes that he's uncommonly empathetic and able to see the world from the perspective of others. Tutored by his uncle, Nophtha apprentices as an itinerant spirit eater, or someone who absorbs lingering ghosts that congest the surrounding atmosphere and converts their essence into formidable healing powers. One day, Nophtha crosses paths with his alter ego, Wite, a soul burner who hopes to evolve to a higher level of being by gorging himself on the souls of the living. Under his sway, Nophtha is compelled to evaluate whether he and Wite are that different in nature, and to assess his feelings about family and community. 

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The Tyrant (2003)

"Ella is a 15-yeal old girl crippled by polio, a genius taking graduate courses in biology and demonstrating a strong talent for working with ectoplasm. She journeys beyond death in Michael Cisco's visionary novel 'The Tyrant'. Taken as an assistant to the famed Dr. Belhoria, she'll be helping Doctor Belhoria in her study of a talented young epileptic man as he descends into a trance which will take him to the Underworld"

1 comments:

Craig Snider said...

I love Cisco's work. I happened to see information about The Tyrant in World of Fantasy magazine. The blurb was intriguing, but I had no idea what I was in for.

His writing is not for the light of heart. It is dense, poetic, and deeply literary. This is not a bad thing by any means, but none of his work could be considered "light," and they would not be books one would pick up for a quick read.

I've read The Tyrant three times and still feel as if I'm wading through a thick fog each time.

But, the payoff is extraordinary. The dream-like quality of his prose is exhilarating.

So far, I've read The Tyrant, The Divinity Student, and I'm working on the Traitor now.

I highly recommend his work if you are looking for literary fantasy. It is very much like Magical Realism, and carries with it a profound sese of accomplishment.

I can't wait to read The Celebrant.

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