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Black Butterflies Mass Market Paperback


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Leisure Books (March 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0843948442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0843948448
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,778,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

John Shirley, often cited as the first writer of cyberpunk, has been for some years a topnotch craftsman of horror fiction. Those familiar with his novel Wetbones and his short story collections, Heatseeker and New Noir, treasure his work for its antic humor, neon intensity, and oddly endearing descriptions of graphic horror. It's an indication of how unique Shirley is that reviewers have compared him to such varied writers as J.G. Ballard, William S. Burroughs, Anton Chekov, Philip K. Dick, Franz Kafka, William Kotzwinkle, Elmore Leonard, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Tom Wolfe.

Black Butterflies is in two parts: eight stories set in "This World" (what we call reality) and eight stories set in "That World" (where the door swings open into the realm of the surreal, the supernatural). In "This World" we meet a middle-class white woman who turns a mugging by two black youngsters into her chance to pursue glory as a criminal; a cop who knows his partner is guilty of murdering his wife; two hustlers who throw a sadistic and drug-infested party at the expense of their bound and unwilling host (believe it or not, it's hilarious); "a girl who died from cum"; and two bike messengers whose fate is to join hundreds of other people in a freak accident so hideous it boggles the mind. Almost all of them seem to find some kind of manic deliverance in the most outlandish and horrific of circumstances. In "That World" we creep down a tunnel into a child's escape from reality, witness more than one scene of surreal cannibalism in the service of sexual pleasure and/or artistic creation, and participate with horror and awe in a religious rite in the final days of the human species.

John Shirley visits some very strange places, but he always comes back to tell of his adventures in a spare, unaffected voice. He can carry you into the edgiest of human situations and bring you back giggling nervously. Take the risk; go on a ride with him. --Fiona Webster --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Best known as one of the founders of cyberpunk for his novel City Come A-Walkin' (1980) and as the principal screenwriter of the cult classic film The Crow, Shirley (Silicon Embrace, 1996) has a reputation as one of the darkest, edgiest, boldest writers around?a reputation that will only be enhanced by this first-rate and fierce collection of 16 stories that includes two originals. The collection is divided into two parts: "This World" is comprised of tales set in everyday reality, although the events, characters and themes covered are anything but ordinary; "That World" contains supernatural horror, dark fantasy and SF yarns. The lead-off entry, "Barbara," is prototypical Shirley, a skin-crawler of a story about a woman carjacked by two punks who outwits, and outsociopaths, them at every turn. Like most of Shirley's stories, it's laid down in adrenalized, jivey yet extremely artful prose that fairly skids across the page, dragging the reader along with it into shadowed corners of terror and desire. Yet while it's thrilling, there's psychological depth in it, too, as Shirley bores into the brains of his characters, revealing the motivations of those who walk on the wild side. Shirley loses nothing when he moves toward the fantastic. A representative tale in the book's second part is "How Deep the Taste of Love," in which a newly minted widower gets to explore his outre sexual fantasies, and then some, with a beautiful bar pickup. Here, as throughout this blade of a book, Shirley casts a story in which the veil of normalcy and habit is ripped away and his characters, and readers, are invited to behold the fundamental mystery of life.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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A marvelous and diverse collection of stories from the man who brought you cyberpunk.
Thomas S. Roche
The stories in 'This World' lack overtly fantastic elements, and most of them are very frightening indeed.
Stephen Dedman
I would highly recommend this book if you like other horror authors such as H. P. Lovecraft.
Colleen Sullivan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Dedman on March 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
The contents of BLACK BUTTERFLIES have been neatly dissected into 'This World' and 'That World'. The stories in 'This World' lack overtly fantastic elements, and most of them are very frightening indeed. Shirley's version of 'This World' seems to be populated largely by psychopaths who murder and rape as much from boredom and bafflement as anything else; one of the few characters in 'This World' to display anything resembling empathy is the computer science teacher in 'What Would You Do For Love?', and she uses computer models to help predict the actions of people around her. 'What Would You Do For Love?' is not only the last story in 'This World', as though it were a segue into 'That World', it's the first in which most of the characters will seem familiar to nearly all of us, and the first with something like a conventionally happy ending. Shirley's talent is that he enables us to empathise with characters who have so little empathy for others, whether we want to or not, despite gut-punch beginnings that many horror writers might use as a coup de grace. 'That World' throws overt fantasy elements into Shirley's universe, and while some of the stories (such as 'Pearldoll' and 'Aftertaste') are almost conventional horror tales, others are... different. 'The Exquisitely Bleeding Heads of Doktur Palmer Vreedeez', in which celebrities are encased alive in plastic sheathing for a horrific sculpture garden to the enjoyment of Idi Amin, is a enormously over-the-top sick joke. 'Delia and the Dinner Party', in which a little girl's 'imaginary friend' translates her parents' over-dinner conversations, is a gem, and if you'd prefer something upbeat and dislike televangelists as devoutly as I do, 'Flaming Telepaths' will make your day.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on September 26, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Black Butterflies" is a short story collection from horror/science fiction author John Shirley. Shirley, who also wrote the excellent gross out tale "Wetbones," is quite adept at charging his stories with equal parts sex, horror, and suspense. It seems that Shirley spends more time working on science fiction novels, but occasionally, he churns out something like "Black Butterflies." When Shirley delves into horror, look out. He likes to write them lean, mean, and sick as you know what.
"Black Butterflies" is divided into two large sections. The first section is entitled, "This World," probably because the stories deal with everyday reality (I use the term "everyday reality" loosely in reference to some of these stories). The type of stories found in this part of the book varies widely. One story tells the bleak tale of a cop with profound suspicions of his partner. Two tales show the importance of screening people before fooling around with them. Stories about a horror film that is a little too real, an answering machine message one hopes never to hear on their own machine, and the after effects of an earthquake round out the first part of the book.
The second section, entitled, "That World," deals with stories involving supernatural elements. Arguably the best story here is the first one, concerning a little girl and her imaginary friend viewing a side of family life that is both disconcerting and extremely gross. Other stories deal with the end of the world and its aftermath, a sculptor looking for inspiration, an encounter with alien beings who pick up victims in bars, the grim results of mixing [narcotics] with industrial strength insecticide, and a funny story about a battle between good and evil that takes place in a heavy metal/thrash bar.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 7, 1998
Format: Paperback
Nobody writes like John Shirley -- intense, literate, provocative, edgy. Each one of these stories offers something different, but each one of them reads like a house afire. Shirley is the Real Thing -- READ THIS BOOK!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Group on August 14, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book of short stories is divided into two sections, This World and That World, which deal with everyday horrors and otherworldly horrors respectively. Of these two sections, the first is the most successful, which mostly involve the shocking realities of the underbelly of society, evoking a hybrid of John Rechy and Stephen King, and hitting you with the impact of a screwdriver to the kidneys (the best of these, "Cram", will have you thinking twice about ever getting on the subway again). The second section, comprising more outright horror, is less successful (By far the best of these is "Delia and the Dinner Party"). Though Shirley is a very vivid writer, the shocks in these stories seem mostly arbitrary and forced compared to those in the first section. Still worth checking out, though. I also docked him some points for using rock lyrics as titles-- he's much too good a writer to be slumming like that.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 11, 1998
Format: Paperback
_Black Butterflies_ by John Shirley is a collection of a decade's worth of dark short stories by Shirley, the author of _Wetbones_ and writer of the screenplay for "The Crow." Half of the stories involve the horrors of "this world," the dark streets and alleyways of our existence; the other half of the stories involve "that world," the strange and supernatural.
Shirley's stories are dark, intense, imaginative and will often sear images into your brain. Recommended for fans of dark fiction, perhaps along the lines of Clive Barker.
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