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Richard Kadrey

(1957- )
Richard Kadrey is the author of over fifty short stories, a small number of non-fiction books, and the novels you see below. He has written and spoken about art, culture and technology for Wired, The San Francisco Chronicle, Discovery Online, The Site, SXSW, and Wired for Sex on the G4 cable network. He is also a fetish photographer. His story Carbon Copy was made into the feature film After Amy starring Bridget Fonda. He lives in San Francisco, CA.

Marion chats with Richard Kadrey

Richard Kadrey, author of the SANDMAN SLIM novels, recently did a reading and signing event at a Copperfield’s Books, a local independent bookstore. I attended, and participated in the Question and Answer segment. Even though he was getting over a cold, Richard was a gracious and lively presenter. Later I asked him some more questions via e-mail. We talked about the latest SANDMAN SLIM novel Kill City Blues, tattoos, and some of his other works.

Richard Kadrey gave me a signed copy of Kill City Blues which I’ll hand over to one random commenter.

Marion Deeds: At Copperfield’s, someone asked about... Read More

Butcher Bird: A beautiful, surreal tapestry of imagery, and a kick-ass quest

Butcher Bird by Richard Kadrey

Kadrey’s Butcher Bird was published in 2007, two years before his SANDMAN SLIM series. Butcher Bird, subtitled A Novel of the Dominion, shares some themes with its later cousin, but the shape and the tone of this book are completely different.
Spyder Lee is a tattoo artist in San Francisco. He shares his studio with his best friend Lulu Garou, who does piercings. One night, when Spyder steps out into the alley behind his favorite bar, he is attacked. The attack is terrifying, and for one moment Spyder realizes that the thing that is trying to kill him is not human. Seconds later a blind woman with a sword beheads it. When Spyder awakens the next morning, his world has changed. He can see the everyday mundane world he is used to, and more… demons, angels, beasts, and even parts of cities that he’s never imagined.

Spyder becomes obsessed with the swords... Read More

Sandman Slim: Urban fantasy with a kick to the head

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

I’m not sure what’s wrong with me lately. I keep finding myself reading some gloriously blasphemous works of fantasy literature. I reviewed Jesse Bullington’s The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart and accepted that it could very well show up as a stain on my soul’s credit report. Now, having just finished Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim, I might as well file eternal bankruptcy.

James Stark was betrayed and sent to hell for 11 years. While in Hell he learned a few things like killing, drinking heavily, and swearing like it was an Olympic sport. James Stark’s only goals are payback for his banishment, and revenge for the murder of his one true love... Anything else that happens along the way is just a bonus.

Stark’s one-track mind m... Read More

Kill the Dead: When working for the devil, there’s going to be a catch

Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey

Richard Kadrey’s Kill the Dead is the sequel to Sandman Slim, and James Stark has been keeping himself busy working for various entities in order to pay the rent. The Devil is one of the entities that makes use of Stark’s services, and he wants Stark to serve as his bodyguard while he’s in town on business. Stark is forced to juggle the obligations of both Heaven and Hell, and manages to place himself in the middle of a conflict that started at the dawn of time.

Richard Kadrey’s writing style is awesome. Seriously, I want this guy to write my epitaph after I die. I imagine it would go something like this:

“Here lies Justin Blazier. If you owe him money, you’re a lucky son of a bitch.”

Kadrey continues the gritty shit-kicking approach to writing that made the first novel s... Read More

Aloha From Hell: Lucifer might be the best CEO ever

Aloha From Hell by Richard Kadrey
“I have to laugh. There isn’t much else to do. Go down into the deepest darkest parts of Hell, and you’ll see what I mean. They laugh all the time down there.”
Aloha From Hell is Richard Kadrey’s third SANDMAN SLIM novel. Jim Stark was betrayed by a fellow magician and dragged alive into Hell. Eleven years as an arena fighter for audiences of Hellions and fallen angels did not improve Stark’s attitude, and when he clawed his way out of Hell, he had some unfinished business with Mason, his betrayer.

Dealing with Mason is at the top of Stark’s to-do list, but in Sandman Slim and Kill the Dead, various things like world-destroying anti-angels and a zombie apocalypse distracted him. Stark did manage to send Mason to Hell. This might not have been a good choice, since Lucifer had gone ... Read More

Devil Said Bang: Leaving Hell was the easy part

Devil Said Bang by Richard Kadrey

Warning: This review may contain spoilers of earlier SANDMAN SLIM books.

I admire writers who can create fast-paced, intricately plotted stories that still have layered, complete characters. To me, that’s the prose version of juggling eggs and chainsaws at the same time. In Devil Said Bang, Richard Kadrey’s fourth SANDMAN SLIM book, he accomplishes this feat while tap-dancing and simultaneously playing blues harmonica.

When Devil Said Bang opens, James Stark, whose Hellion arena name is Sandman Slim, is still in Hell, but he’s in a… well, let’s say, a managerial position. He’s surrounded by damned souls, resentful Hellions and a ruling council of fallen angels who want to see him dead. Exploring Lucifer’s palace in Hell’s capital city of Pandemonium, Stark discovers a strange weapon... Read More

Kill City Blues: Shopping Mall Gothic

Kill City Blues by Richard Kadrey

How about a nice haunted house book? You’ve read dozens, you say? Okay, well how about a haunted hotel? Been there, done that… ? Well, have you read about a haunted luxury mall, one with abandoned levels all the way down to a faux Roman bath that holds a shrine to a god from another universe, and contains, somewhere, a God-killing weapon? No? I thought not.

Kill City Blues is the fifth SANDMAN SLIM book from Richard Kadrey. James Stark has turned the ruling of Hell over to someone else, and is back in L.A. He saved our reality from a cataclysm, but along the way he lost the Qomrama, a doomsday weapon, to Aelita, the mad angel who wants to kill God. Aelita has hidden the Qomrama, or as Stark irreverently calls it, the “Magic 8 Ball” somewhere in L.A. and Stark needs to find it before even more ancient deities, the Angra, chew their way through to our reality and destroy us. Read More

The Getaway God: A return to classic Sandman Slim

The Getaway God by Richard Kadrey

People are bailing out of LA in droves. It’s Christmas. The city is flooding. An apocalypse is happening, and Sandman Slim’s girlfriend, Candy, is reverting to her predatory Jade nature. The Angra Om Ya, who were the original gods of this reality before they lost it to a confidence-trickster god, are returning, and they aren’t happy. The Golden Vigil, a government-angelic partnership, has begun rounding up supernatural beings and putting them in concentration camps. For James Stark, the half-nephilim arena-fighter and former CEO of Hell, known as Sandman Slim, it’s basically just another Tuesday.

The Getaway God by Richard Kadrey is the sixth SANDMAN SLIM story. As the series has progressed, Kadrey has taken some scenic detours, as he did in Kil... Read More

Killing Pretty: Stark gives mainstream life a try, and fails brilliantly

Killing Pretty by Richard Kadrey

Killing Pretty is the seventh book in Richard Kadrey’s SANDMAN SLIM series. Barnes and Noble included this book on their list of series books you could start if you hadn’t read the earlier books, and I think this is true. The book is not a reboot by any means, but James Stark, who was known as Sandman Slim when he fought in the arena in Hell, does some ruminating about what his life in L.A. has been like the past few years, and savvy readers would have no real trouble catching on to the story.

At first, Killing Pretty is a little worrying, because it looks like Stark is going legit. He is an employee of a licensed private eye, Julie, who used to work for the Golden Vigil, a hybrid agency comprised of Homeland Security agents and heavenly... Read More

The Perdition Score: That is one shocking ending!

The Perdition Score by Richard Kadrey

James Stark, AKA Sandman Slim, is making another effort to be more like a “regular” human being. He has left the arena in Hell behind and is working for the Sub Rosa, the clandestine magical community in Los Angeles. His girlfriend Chihiro works for a detective agency and is learning to play surf guitar. Stark has a salary, a 401(k) and even health benefits; but he is dissatisfied and only violence seems to provide satisfaction.

(This review contains a mild spoiler for readers who may not have read Killing Pretty, the previous Sandman Slim novel.)

The Perdition Score is the 8th Sandman Slim novel. Author Richard Kadrey has taken Stark through various mutations in these stories; in this one Stark goes back, for a time, to the place he ... Read More

The Kill Society: There are parts of Hell even Sandman Slim hasn’t seen

The Kill Society by Richard Kadrey 

The Kill Society (2017) is the ninth SANDMAN SLIM book, even if Stark prefers to go by Stark now, rather than the name he was given when he fought in the arena in Hell. Hell is not the eternal absence of God, or some theoretical dimension of punishment; it’s a county, a landscape. And Stark, alive or dead, is very familiar with it. In The Kill Society, Kadrey takes Stark, and us, on a tour of a previously unseen area of Hell, the Tenebrae. Even Stark is not very familiar with the desert-like stretch of Tenebrae with its mummified ghost towns. He’d prefer to be in Pandemonium, the capital, but he has no choice, because he’s been captured by a charismatic, mad soul who calls himself The Magistrate, and his caravan of killers called the horde.

(This review may contain mild spoilers for earlier book... Read More

Hollywood Dead: Stark’s back in L.A, and nothing will be the same again

Hollywood Dead by Richard Kadrey

“There’s dead and then there’s Hollywood dead and those are two very different things.
Dead is just dead. In the ground. Pennies on your eyes. A cold slab of meat and no slaw and definitely no dessert.
But Hollywood dead? That can be a lot of things. Yeah, you’re still a slab of meat, but now you come with curly fries and hot apple pie.”

James Stark, once known as Sandman Slim, is Hollywood dead when the 2018 book of the same name opens. Specifically, he has been brought back from the dead, but only partially. The tenth SANDMAN SLIM book brings us back from Hell to Los Angeles, but it’s not full circle; it’s a spiral, as it delves deeper into Stark’s death, life and destiny.

(This review may contain mild spoilers for earlier books.)

Eva Sandoval, a leader of the global-corporate evil group Wormwood, has brought St... Read More

Ballistic Kiss: The series gathers momentum as it heads into the home stretch

Ballistic Kiss by Richard Kadrey

2020’s SANDMAN SLIM novel, Ballistic Kiss, is the second-to-last entry in Richard Kadrey’s long-running demon-fighter punk-wizard series starring James Stark as Sandman Slim. I don’t know what I will do when the series finishes. I’ll miss the big lug.

However, Ballistic Kiss didn’t leave me too much time to fret about the future; Stark has plenty of adjustments to make in his present. Brought back to life by the Sub Rosa magical practitioners after a year dead, Stark is living in a flying-saucer shaped house owned by the Sub Rosa, struggling with PTSD, when the book opens. Returning from Hell (and death), Stark has discovered that, to his way of thinking at least, his friends’ lives have improved without him. Candy is in a much l... Read More

Dead Set: A YA horror novel

Dead Set by Richard Kadrey

Zoe’s parents were punks in San Francisco when they met and fell in love. Zoe’s father managed punk bands, while her mother was a graphic artist, designing album covers. When they realized they were going to have a child, they went into the straight life, although Zoe’s dad never left punk music behind. Now Zoe is sixteen, her father is dead, and her mother is battling a heartless insurance company that is refusing to pay. They have moved from their pleasant house in the San Francisco East Bay area to a small apartment in the city. Zoe’s dreams are filled with menacing black dogs and a strange woman.

Richard Kadrey is probably best known for his SANDMAN SLIM series. Dead Set is something different; a young adult horror novel. Kadrey masterfully blends the supernatural horror elements of the tale with the real-world devastation Zoe faces. Zoe cuts most of her classes at the new high scho... Read More

The Everything Box: Truly, deeply, madly hilarious

The Everything Box by Richard Kadrey

With The Everything Box, Richard Kadrey has made himself at home in the territory occupied by Christopher Moore. And by “made himself at home” I mean he’s kicked in Moore’s door, settled down on the couch, drunk all the booze, eaten all the chips and reprogrammed Moore’s DVR. Now Kadrey is looking across the hall where the Pratchett and Gaiman novel Good Omens lives, and saying, “Yoo-hoo, anybody home?”

Comic novels are hard, and for some reason science fiction or fantasy comic novels are even harder. There’s something ... Read More

The Wrong Dead Guy: The crispest comic dialogue I’ve read in a long, long time

The Wrong Dead Guy by Richard Kadrey

Even if Richard Kadrey’s The Wrong Dead Guy (2017) didn’t have an elephant, a library and a grumpy mummy, I would love it for the comedic dialogue. This book has some of the crispest comic dialogue (not just banter) I’ve read in a very long time, maybe ever.

The Wrong Dead Guy is the second book in Kadrey’s ANOTHER COOP HEIST series. Cooper, who goes by Coop, is a thief specializing in magical items. He is immune to magic, which also means that he cannot wield it. His girlfriend Giselle, who works for the Department of Peculiar Science (DOPS), does use magic though, and sometimes Coop works with a ghost named Phil, who rides in Coop’s head during the heist.

Right now, Coop is reluctantly working for the DOPS hims... Read More

The Grand Dark: A successful experiment for fans of the very strange

The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey

By day, the bleak city of Lower Proszawa exists in shades of gray and black. Smoke from the many factories cloak the sky. Robotic vehicles roll along the streets, and robot devices and genetically-altered chimera share the sidewalks with the residents, including the wounded war veterans called Iron Dandies because many wear masks to hide burned and disfigured faces. By night, decadent theaters, bars, and mansions glow like moons as people party with a desperate glee — trying to hold at bay their fear of the plague, the new war, the Nachtvogel (secret police), the brutal city police, and each other.

Largo Moorden is a bike courier, a young man of simple needs. He just wants to make love to his girlfriend, party, and ensure that he has his next hit of morphia. An unexpected and undeserved promotion pushes Largo into a labyrinthine warren of discoveries about his city, the last war, and the coming o... Read More

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse edited by John Joseph Adams

John Joseph Adams assembles a wide variety of apocalypse-related fiction in Wastelands. some of which are older than I am, while others are more recent. What you end up with is a diverse anthology covering topics such as religion, war, and exploration while containing horror, comedy, and a sense of wonder.

The majority of the stories are easy to get into. Some stories are more subtle than others. Overall, Wastelands is an enjoyable read and the selection seems balanced. Having said that, here are my top three stories:

"Bread and Bombs" by M. Rickert is one of the more horrifying stories in this anthology, and this is achieved through her characterization and commentary on society. It's easy to jump into Rickert's text and there is a foreboding established early on w... Read More

Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror

Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror edited by Ellen Datlow

This anthology comes after a similarly titled anthology, also edited by Ellen Datlow, called Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror which came out in March 2010. Datlow also edits an annual anthology of horror fiction (collaborating with other editors on those). It seems then that Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror (which came out in October 2016) is informed by a great deal of knowledge in the field of speculative horror literature. I am not generally a horror reader, but I still thoroughly enjoyed many tales in this anthology for their engaging storytelling and terrifying themes. What follows is a brief review of each of the 25 tales, in the order which they appear.

“Shallaballah” by Mark Samuels is a story about th... Read More

Other books by Richard Kadrey

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsMetrophage — (1988) Publisher: Welcome to Los Angeles..where anger, hunger and disease run rampant, and life and hope are strictly rationed. This is Jonny’s world. He’s a street-wise hustler, a black-market dealer in drugs that heal the body and cool the mind. All he cares about is his own survival. Until a strange new plague turns L.A. into a city of death — and Jonny is forced to put everything on the line to find the cure. If it can be found on earth.Richard Kadrey Kamikaze L'Amour

Kamikaze L’Amour — (1995) Publisher: In a science fiction novel about love and experimental music, technology and rain forests, humanity and the United States, rock sensation Ryder fakes his own suicide and journeys to the rain forest — but San Francisco is not what he expected.


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