Just released on Amazon, The Feverish Stars, is one of my new favorite books. This is the first I’ve read by John Shirley, but this collection put him solidly on my list of favorite authors. True story… the first story (State of Imprisonment) put me in another world. A grim statement on the future of the modern prison system, it was minimalistic world building at its finest.
I was sitting in the public library when I first read “Imprisonment.” I was so immersed I completely forgot where I was. The end of that story was so purposefully anti-climatic… and that was the point. It was a statement of irony—an understatement with a gut punch of significance. It was one of those stories that leave you blinking and wondering where you are… and wondering where you and your world might one day be.
“Sebillia” was another that shook my sense of reality but in a completely different way. Where “State of Imprisonment” was all sparse and functional prose, “Sebillia” read like well worn old leather. It accuses without blame. Where “Imprisonment” was minimalistic, “Sebillia” has a bitter richness that will remain. Fragrant, painful and raw… the story is sad because it’s too true. And there is also the beauty of it.
A testament to Shirley’s diversity, each story is so unique from each other the collection is a varied, eclectic roller coaster ride up until the end which, appropriately, features a roller coaster ride. While different, each story has a surprising, unexpected point of view. They are linked by creative and clever prose, vivid settings and fleshed out characters. I enjoyed every story in this collection. Quite a few will remain among my favorites long after this reading.