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on June 24, 2012
Brian Evenson, one of my favorite short story writers, specializes in brief, enigmatic mysteries with a Kafkaesque flavor. Most of his collections have come out from publishers with more of a literary/experimental focus (Underland, Coffeehouse, Four Walls Eight Windows). It wouldn't seem unreasonable to categorize Evenson as a straight "literary" writer whose work contains speculative or "genre" elements only to accentuate the weird unease in a Kafka/Lynch sense, and not as raw meat for a genre readership. Such a conclusion about Evenson's work might seem to be argued-against by the release of Immobility, a post-apocalyptic tale which almost be called an "adventure" (if a quiet one), published by SF/Fantasy powerhouse Tor Books.

The story begins with the awakening from cryogenic stasis of Josef Horkai, a paralyzed amnesiac with unexplained resistance to the environmental toxins and radiation which keep the rest of the few surviving humans hiding underground. He's given a mission by Rasmus, seemingly in charge in this desolate, wrecked post-Kollaps aftermath, and a pair of "mules" named Qanik and Qatik, twins or perhaps clones, carry Horkai on the assignment. On the way, Horkai tries to get information from the mules, whose responses often seem nonsensical, yet sometimes contain information or even wisdom.

Horkai's muddled memory, which leaves him uncertain about such basic facts as whether he's even human, drives him even more strongly than any assigned mission. Immobility isn't just about Horkai's paralysis, but about his inability to choose any direction for himself because he lacks the necessary information to judge his own situation. Plagued by cyclical memories of sleeping and awakening from sleep, Horkai struggles to understand who he is, and how to deal with direction in which he has no say. I take this as a direct and explicit comment about the way some religions keep followers in the dark, use them as fodder for the promulgation of the faith. Evenson's own history as a former member of the Mormon church, and the story taking place in Utah, particularly near the Brigham Young University campus, would seem to support this interpretation.

The story is reminiscent of Cormac Mccarthy's The Road in terms of mood, yet in that story the protagonist was strongly driven toward a certain end. Horkai isn't sure what he's seeking, beyond the most basic sort of self-knowledge. The foundational nihilism of Immobility should come as no surprise, as in his acknowledgements Evenson name-checks Thomas Ligotti, a horror writer noted for his pessimism about humanity. I enjoyed Immobility, found it stimulating and well-written, though not quite as sharply-honed as Evenson's short works. It's worthwhile for those readers who enjoy darker tones and a bit of philosophical challenge, but may be too bleak for some.
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VINE VOICEon April 12, 2012
Josef Horkai wakes up to find he can't move and has no memory. The people who wake him up tell him little other than that he is paralyzed from the waist down, and they need him for a critical mission. The future world is bleak and ruined by war. Josef is only told he needs to recover something that was stolen. But as he soon discovers, there is more to his mission than meets the eye.

Evenson's desolate world is post-apocalyptic, with mysterious and bizarre characters. Immobility is a quick, yet thought-provoking read. I read it through in one sitting and couldn't put it down. The reader experiences everything along with the paraplegic Josef, from the horrific medical procedures to uncovering terrifying truths. This science fiction thriller is intensely dramatic, dark, and chilling. With an unpredictable twist that I didn't see coming, this story did not disappoint.
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on January 15, 2014
Loved this book - even though I blew through it in a day or two the imagery of the bleak world stayed with me for a long time. Might have to read it again soon to appreciate the twists and turns better knowing the whole story.
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on June 12, 2012
Immobility is great post-apocalyptic story about survival and the lengths that some people will go to maintain some control over their future. The writing is superb and the story flew by. I'm hoping that Evenson will be writing a sequal to this one. Highly recommended.
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on September 7, 2012
I really liked this book; the title is somewhat bland and is not memorable but the writing is tight and the story very good. I'm going to read more of this author! If you like apocalyptic sci fi, horror, suspense and mystery this book is for you.

I started rereading it as soon as I was finished; again, that good. (and short, not quite 250 pages)
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on April 10, 2012
Detective Josef Horkai was the best at dealing with lethal situations that other cops would fear involvement; his greatness was handling the worst, but executing with minimal collateral damage. However that was who he was before the -Kollaps.

Horkai awakens from a coma but suffers from amnesia although he recalls the Kollaps. He becomes aware that he is dying while people nearby assume he remains in a frozen animated state. His legs no longer work and his arms are as useless while he lost his teeth, hair and time nor any idea what is killing him or why he was kept on ice.

A stranger insists he is Horkai's friend and demands full thawing as he needs the former cop's investigative skills. His assignment is to retrieve a stolen cylinder before a catastrophic matching that of the Kollaps occurs. He distrusts his self-proclaimed buddy and the information is nebulous. While his body is a complete failure, if he decides he wants to live albeit frozen, he must accomplish the mission immediately as time has run out on Horkai even before he thawed.

This grim ultra-dark Kafka like thriller hooks the reader from the start as Horkai slowly awakens to his condition and the horror of what has passed while he was sleeping. The severe landscape establishes a hopeless backdrop as Horkai struggles to adapt to this horrific new world being an inexperienced paraplegic whose memories are fleeting at best. Fans will fully appreciate his descent into total darkness while pondering whether the protagonist suffers from an unending nightmare or is this really happening to him; to Horkai it does not matter whether it is a bad dream or not, as this is his realism.

Harriet Klausner
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on June 26, 2015
While the story and the world was interesting, I felt like there were sections where it just dragged on too long. Also, the constant questions without answers up until the very end were very exhausting. I guess the "point" of the book was Horkai questioning his identity and trying to pin down what it means to be human, but it recurred far to often. Overall, not a bad book per say just not amazing. Also once I found out that Evenson primarily writes short stories, this book makes a lot more sense because i'm sure this began as an idea for a short and then turned into a feature length. The story hovers somewhere between hefty enough for a full novel, yet sparse enough for a short story.
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on August 5, 2013
Yes the subject is much traveled to use a pun on the title and story itself. Similarities with books like Children of Men and The Road are inevitable. The book does not have the character complexity nor it elicits the emotional attachment of the two books mentioned. However the quality of writing and a superbly developed plot makes it a great read. Also, Evenson finds a clever way to make it unique and stand alone. Its plot but also Josef Horkai the main character and its two road trip partners are absorbing and life like. The roller-coster of the story is not designed to be gripping but to force the reader to ponder serious questions relevant today.
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on November 12, 2012
It's not going to a life-changing book, but it's very well written and easy to get through. The imagery is great, the plot is good, a little preachy at times as post-apocalyptic books seem to be, but altogether a good romp. It won't change your philosophy on life, but at the end you'll be satisfied.
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on October 22, 2013
Terrifying. In a slow burn kind of way. Evenson keeps you in the dark in this strange, dystopian tale. You discover the truth about the main character as he does. The chilling end will leave you sleeping with the lights on for days.
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