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Michael Cisco

Michael CiscoMichael Cisco earned a PhD in English literature from New York University. His first novel, The Divinity Student, received the International Horror Writers Guild Award for best first novel. His nonfiction appears in reference books published by Chelsea House and the Gale Group. He lives in New York City. Read excerpts of his novels at Michael Cisco’s website.

The Traitor: A wonderfully dark tale of bleak morality

The Traitor by Michael Cisco

A good friend of mine who has excellent taste recommended The Traitor to me. I had heard of Michael Cisco, mostly through people like Jeff Vandermeer and Jeffrey Ford saying nice things about his work, but until now I hadn’t read any of his novels. With strong recommendations from three people who opinions I rate highly I expected quite a lot, and I have to admit I wasn’t disappointed.

The Traitor is written as a first person narrative by Nophtha, the traitor of the title, as he awaits death in his jail cell convicted of acts of treason. Noticed by his uncle as a child as a blank, he is initiated as a spirit eater, a shunned and despised part of society... Read More

The New Weird: As terrifying as Kafka on LSD

The New Weird by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

It’s easy to imagine two different readers reacting in opposite ways to The New Weird. One might find it delightfully odd; the other might find it as terrifying as Kafka on LSD. And a third might find it delightfully odd because it’s as terrifying as Kafka on LSD. Certainly, no one is likely to find it boring.

The New Weird is a well-organized anthology, with a short, useful introduction; a section entitled “Stimuli,” containing older selections (though not very old; the oldest piece, by Michael Moorcock, has an original copyright date of 1979, while the Thomas Ligotti selection was published only in 1997); “Evidence,” stories published mostly in this mill... Read More

Other books by Michael Cisco

The San Veneficio Canon — (1999) Publisher: Struck by lightning, resurrected, cut open, and stuffed full of arcane documents, the Divinity Student is sent to the desert city of San Veneficio to reconstruct the Lost Catalog of Unknown Words. He learns to pick the brains of corpses and gradually sacrifices his sanity on the altar of a dubious mission of espionage. Without ever understanding his own reasons, he moves toward destruction with steely determination. Eventually he find himself reduced to a walker between worlds — a creature neither of flesh nor spirit, stuffed with paper and preserved with formaldehyde — a zombie of his own devising. The line twixt clairvoyance and madness is thinner than a razor blade. In 1999, The Divinity Student captured the attention of fans of dark fantasy everywhere, eventually winning the International Horror Guild Award for best first novel. Now, The Divinity Student has been paired with its sequel, The Golem, for a must-have book — The San Veneficio Canon. Michael Cisco has created a city and a character that will live in the reader’s imagination long after this book has been read…

The Divinity Student            The Divinity Student paired with its sequel, The Golem
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                           fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Stand-alone novels:

Michael Cisco The Tyrant

The Tyrant — (2003) Publisher: A new novel from Michael Cisco, the International Horror Writer’s Guild Award for Best First Novel of 1999. “Michael Cisco’s works immerse the reader in worlds that are not simply dreamlike in the quality of their imagination but somehow manage to capture and convey the power of the dream itself. The Tyrant is his masterpiece.” ~ Thomas Ligotti

Michael Cisco Secret HoursSecret Hours — (2007) Publisher: 134 pp. Introduction by Robert M. Price. 14 short stories, some horrific, some fantastic, some uncategorizeable, but all haunting and unsettling. Some stories include a brief introduction by the author. The collection consists of several Lovecraftian tales: The Chaos Into Time / The Firebrands of Torment / I Will Teach You / The Water Nymphs / What He Chanced To Mould In Play / Translation (which also tips the hat to Arthur Machen and William S. Burroughs); also the remainder of the tales are evocative of Cisco’ s own unique haunting style: Two Fragments / The Depredations of Mur / Dr. Bondi’s Methods / For No Eyes / He Will Be There (a tribute to THE KING IN YELLOW by Robert W. Chambers, with a nod to Ramsey Campbell) / The Night of the Nights / The Death of Edgar Allan Poe / Ice Age Of Dreams (with varying influences of T.E.D. Klein and Arthur Machen, and dedicated to Thomas Ligotti). Color cover, endpapers and several interior illustrations by Harry O. Morris, and an interior illustration by Jason C. Eckhardt and by Thomas Brown.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Narrator — (2010) Publisher: The Narrator — the new novel by Michael Cisco, author of The Traitor and The Divinity Student — is also his most sophisticated. Cisco’s prose, by turns phantasmagorical and exhilarating (reminiscent one moment of Robbe-Grillet, the next of Artaud, with a tinge of Thomas Ligotti, the imaginative virtuosity of Gene Wolfe or M. John Harrison), is like a stark sequence of strong iron bars, brimming with dark ambiance. Combining unmatched craft with masterful storytelling, this is literate fantasy unlike any other, intricate as the most elaborate dream, in which the narrator himself is the most ambiguous thing of all.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Great Lover — (2011) Publisher: 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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Celebrant — (2012) Publisher: Antic world-traveller, deKlend, is in search of the holy city of Votu, where time runs backwards and gangs of scavenging Pigeon Girls and Rabbit Girls are locked in strange rivalries. Celebrant is a sweeping fantasy of pilgrimage and reincarnation, and a travellers’ guide to altered states of geography. The lives of the characters in this dream-adventure intersect like the architecture of an Escher woodcut.