You ever just sit down and then start typing and typing and then you awaken some hours later only to realize that you’ve ended up with something almost coherent? You sit at the bar staring at your laptop, eyes darting between the word count and the archaic diskette icon and wonder to yourself, “What the hell do I do with his?”
If you’re Warren Ellis, a man with a reader-base nourished through the decades by his science futurist rage, you slap on an ending with a vodka and red bull sealant and you publish it serially as an ebook, followed by a thin paperback volume, and then, in a commercial coup de grace, you get John Hodgeman to do the audiobook so that your readers can potentially consume your product three different times. I’m not complaining, I’m just very very poor.
This book is about the future. Well, possibly. And honestly it’s really not a future, not really, consumer side maybe. It’s more about how the future can destroy, which again, it kind of already is, but this book is about how it can completely fuck up those at the bleeding edge of the future. Kind of. It is difficult to put into words. Mainly because it’s just so damned small, both in length and in scope. It’s a camp in the middle of a blue fogged forest. You are in the asylum and you leave it only once, in a memory that is supposed to tie you back to the beginning, which leads to the entire book feeling like an over-ripe dream. This isn’t a complaint, it just makes it hard to talk about without feeling like you’re retelling the story and I’m frankly just not as entertaining as Ellis is.
The book is fun, a great deal of it honestly. Ellis is a strong writer, with a stronger voice, and Normal, by its ad-hoc nature seems as curious about where its story is going to end up as the reader. The dialogue is combative with scenes as absurd and unsettling as most of his body of work. The ending doesn’t really work, but endings have never been Ellis’s strong suit, which is fine as long as you’re prepared for it.
Normal is an hour and half long read if you walk your way through it. It’s classic Ellis if you read enough of him to know what the means, and if it’s not and you find yourself wanting a futurist dystopia from an informed cynic you could do far worse than this book.
Unless you dislike insects…or men transforming into insects…or newage nutritional supplements…
I’ve said too much.
“He didn’t know where his laptop was. He didn’t know when it’d last been backed up to his three off-site storage services. Christ. He was cut off, really cut off. It was an amputation. He realized he had no idea what to do with that. He was a cauterized stump of a human, dropped in a small room and left to rot.” – Warren Ellis, Normal