Typhon Demarest is followed through time by the Illegitimi, whose operatives protect the accumulation of information. But time-travel works strangely, and they must spawn backward, into the bodies of their ancestors.
Humanity’s only hope is born into a severely disabled miner’s kid in rural central Pennsylvania in the 1920s, and this Shamus Connelly has a very special gift that has a habit of keeping him alive while also nearly killing him—just like his endless curiosity.
The kid wants to be a detective when he grows up, and in this first book of the There Was a Crooked Man series, he uncovers a mystery beyond anyone’s wildest nightmares and sets the stage for this worlds-spanning, centuries-deep tour de force:
From the Author: “When I was a kid, I had a reading stack for science fiction and a reading stack for horror that were neck-and-neck. And one day, a story I was trying to write about some local legends in my hometown just clicked in my head. The story was so big that a grownup would have to write it. So I decided to keep at it until I became one. Very simple synthesis: what if all of capitalism and colonialism and the horrible things we’ve done to each other and ourselves and the planet could be traced back to one guy? What if we all were, in fact, Great Cthulhu? How would that look? How did that come to be?
“The Crooked Man embodies cartoonist Walt Kelly’s classic line, ‘We have met the enemy, and he is us.’ He is the uncanny valley we all feel when we see human beings do inhuman things. The horror of this series lies in that deliberative process. And what it’s like for a child who just had that particular nightmare in any form to walk back out onto Main Street, USA, the next morning after the dream and see all the ways the Crooked Man is truly real. And how any of us are supposed to survive that knowledge—or this world.
“It’s very simple. You wake up, and you write down the first sentence of what happened in the dream. And the last sentence. Then you remember everything else. And if you’re really lucky, the person you take into your confidence about it expresses in total shock, ‘I had that dream, too.’”
Praise for Alphabet of Lightning
- “Edward Morris is a fearless writer, expanding the boundaries of what is possible with the weird. Read him.” (Jeff VanderMeer, bestselling author of the Southern Reach trilogy, Dead Astronauts, and Borne)
- “Alphabet of Lightning is told in a voice that puts me in mind of such writers as William S. Burroughs and Joseph S. Pulver Sr. It’s not that he sounds like them specifically, but he is that daring and poetic a wordsmith. In a world of books generally populated with uninspired blandness, such originality of voice is a quality to be prized highly. But the originality doesn’t end with the voice. In Morris’s remarkable narrative, ‘Past and Future are but different Towns, side-by-side in the same direction.’ In the vividly rendered travels documented herein, besides a protagonist with superhuman powers, you’ll encounter some titans from history as well, but I won’t spoil the fun by naming them. Alphabet of Lightning is refreshing, invigorating, complex, and fascinating . . . and you’re telling me these uncanny travels aren’t over, yet? Morris has me ready to buy the next ticket.” (Jeffrey Thomas, author of Punktown)
- “Edward Morris uses words the way Miles Davis used notes.” (Trent Zelazny, author of Fractal Despondency)
- “Edward Morris’s remarkable, stone force novel falls into the post-WWII canon of great post-apocalyptic science fiction. It stands with Earth Abides, No Blade of Grass, and ‘Lot,’ and when you stand with Stewart, Christopher, and Ward Moore, you are standing on sacred ground. The post-apocalypse school of science fiction, it has been speculated, is a metaphor for our present. The seared landscape and shaken polity of our time can best be grasped through a subcategory of fiction that holds at its heart the dirtiest kind of realism. The series is a terrifying, masterfully written, unforgiving precis of an unbearable present become an unbearable future, and Morris serves this as well as any writer of our time. His landscape is gutted, his vision soars.” (Barry N. Malzberg, SFWA Grand Master)
- “Doc Smith’s Lensman books were once dubbed The History of Civilization. But I’m afraid that grand and ambitious overarching description has been boldly ripped out of Doc Smith’s cold, cold hands by Edward Morris with his wild-eyed opus. Replete with scores of unforgettable characters and scenes, the book rampages across space and time with a take-no-prisoners bad attitude. Formalistically daring and esthetically subtle, full of pyrotechnics and epiphanies, it’s what you might get if you mashed up Alfred Bester’s The Stars my Destination with Robert Wilson’s Julian Comstock, Neal Barrett’s Through Darkest America, and its sequel Dawn’s Uncertain Light, and H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘The Color Out of Space’—then had Jodorowsky film the result! Nothing like it on the planet!” (Paul Di Filippo, author of Cosmocopia and A Princess of the Linear Jungle)
- “It is an honor to have lived and worked long enough to have other writers riffing on my work the way Morris riffs on The Guns of the South in this series.” (Harry Turtledove, author of damn near everything)
Edward Morris has been nominated for the British Science Fiction Association Award, the Rhysling Award, and the Pushcart Prize in Literature. His short fiction has appeared over 150 times worldwide in markets from Interzone to The Lovecraft Ezine, Perihelion SF, and Big Pulp. Print anthologies include The Children of Gla’Ki: Tribute Stories to Ramsey Campbell, Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year, The Worlds of Philip Jose Farmer, and ReAnimators! His short stories have been translated into Japanese, Italian, Finnish, Polish, Hungarian, and most recently, Egyptian Arabic with Dr. Ahmed Al-Turki’s fantastic translation of “Jihad Over Innsmouth” from The Book of Cthulhu. Morris is a multiple sclerosis survivor who lives and works in Portland, Oregon, as an author and bouncer.
Broken Eye Books is an independent press, here to bring you the odd, strange, and offbeat side of speculative fiction. Our stories tend to blend genres, highlighting the weird and blurring its boundaries with horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. More information can be found at www.brokeneyebooks.com.