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Pandemonium Paperback – August 26, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Believable characters, a multilayered plot and smooth prose define Gregory's darkly ambitious debut novel. In this fascinating alternative time line, thousands of demon possessions have been carefully recorded by scientists each year since the 1950s. Each case is always the same: a recognizable, named strain of the disorder possesses a person, wreaks havoc and then jumps on to its next victim. Del Pierce's case is unique: when the Hellion possessed him at the age of five, it never left. Now an unhappy 20-something, Del undertakes a dangerous quest to exorcise the Hellion as it fights him for control. The trim prose keeps the pace intense and the action red hot through some emotionally disturbing scenes and heavy backstory. Absorbing psychological discussions of possession abound, from Jungian archetypes to the eye of Shiva. Readers will delve deeply into Gregory's highly original demon-infested reality and hope for a sequel. (Sept.)
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From Bookmarks Magazine

Reviewers were happy to see a fresh take on a well-worn subject of sci-fi and horror stories: demonic possession. They suggested that by creating a world where demons are commonplace, Gregory has in fact found a way of making the subject novel. Critics were even more impressed by Pandemonium’s well-developed characters. As one reviewer noted, the possessions of the story affect the trajectories of the characters’ lives in the same way as mental illness, without transforming this novel into an allegory. The book includes many insider references to other sci-fi works, which may turn off some readers; however, the critics concluded that while Gregory may occasionally channel the spirits of A. E. van Vogt and Philip K. Dick, his voice is strong enough to speak for itself.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (August 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345501160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345501165
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #180,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Daryl Gregory writes genre-mixing novels, short stories, and comics. His next novel is AFTERPARTY, a near-future story about consciousness, religion, and cutting-edge drugs that will be published by Tor Books in early 2014.

His first novel, PANDEMONIUM, appeared from Del Rey Books in 2008 and won the Crawford Award for 2009. It was also a finalist for several other awards, including the Shirley Jackson Award and the World Fantasy Award. It's a romp that takes in Jungian archetypes, superheroes, and demonic possession.

His second novel, 2009's THE DEVIL'S ALPHABET published by Del Rey Books, was named one of the best books of the year by Publisher's Weekly and was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award. The novel combines murder, quantum evolution, and religion in a small mountain town.

RAISING STONY MAYHALL, his third novel, also from Del Rey Books, appeared in 2011. It was named one of the best SF books of the year by Library Journal. It's a coming of age tale about the most polite living dead boy you'd ever want to meet.

Many of his stories are collected in UNPOSSIBLE AND OTHER STORIES, which was published by Fairwood Press in 2011. The collection named one of the best books of the year from Publisher's Weekly. Most of those stories appeared in Asimov's, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and a variety of "year's best" anthologies and foreign editions. His story "Second Person, Present Tense" won the Asimov's Readers' Choice Award and was a Sturgeon finalist. The stories run the gamut from neuroscience to religion to superheroes.

Daryl lives in State College, Pennsylvania with his wife, a couple of teenagers, and a passive-aggressive dog. He's online at

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Chris Roberson on September 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
Pandemonium is Daryl Gregory's first book-length work to be published, and to my thinking it's the single best debut novel I've read in years. The back cover blurb doesn't even begin to do this book justice. This is the story of Del Pierce, a guy who dreamed of being an artist and whose dreams haven't worked out quite as he planned. Del lives in America, but it isn't quite our America. This is a world in which, for at least sixty years and possibly quite a bit longer, various individuals have, for varying lengths of time, been "possessed." By demons? Possibly. By telepathic mutant "slan" who control them at a distance? Unlikely, but not impossible. By free-roaming personalities dredged from Carl Jung's "collective unconsciousness"? Just maybe. But what does it mean that these demons/personalities/etc. so often appear in the forms of heroes from comic books and pulp novels? The Captain, shield-wielding super-soldier; the Truth, a grim avenger in fedora and trench coat, with twin .45s and a menacing laugh; the Boy Marvel, a hero in red tights and a white cape with a boyish smile. Or that another of the "demons" is called Valis and possesses an elderly science fiction writer named Philip K. Dick?

Gregory's short fiction displays certain central obsessions--a keen understanding of cognitive sciences; an interest in families and questions of relationships and maturity; and an obsession with popular culture, in the form of science fiction, superhero comics, pulp novels, etc. All of these factor into Pandemonium, to great effect. To give much more than a broad summary of the plot threatens to spoil too many of the surprises, so I won't bother. (Should I admit that the ending was so affecting that I actually teared up in Starbucks while reading it? No, perhaps not...
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Diana R. Sherman on September 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Pandemonium is fricking brilliant. Here's the plot summary version: As a child, Del was possessed by a demon, the Hellion, known for targeting young blond haired boys. There are many demons in this version of the US, archetypes from classic stories, comic books, etc. Del got better.

Except now he's an adult and beginning to realize that the demon never really left. Something inside of him is trying to break out and take over. He has to chain himself to his bed at night to prevent himself from destroying his home or hurting other people in his sleep. So, he goes on a quest to find a doctor who can help him, then one of the most messed up priests you could ever imagine. He runs into other demon possessed people. Almost gets killed multiple times... And finds out that things are much worse than he ever imagined.

Here's the gushing stream of consciousness version: Demons! Comic books! Possession! PK Dick! PK Dick as a demon! The nature of narrative! Reality/truth. Comic books! The Shug! Archetypes! Creative unconscious! Jung!

Daryl Gregory does something with Pandemonium that I forgot you could do with fiction. He talks pretty intense philosophy without ever once making it feel like that's what he's doing. The narrative is just so strong that you don't notice you're going over really intellectual and dense territory. Del is a strong main character, the events are completely improbable but you don't even notice it until after you've read the whole book and been utterly seduced by it.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By RaV on December 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is an impressive debut book from Daryl Gregory. The story centers around the main character, Del Pierce, and his pursuit to have his Demon exorcised. This novel reminded me of early Stephen King in which he gets you to like the main character and then messes with his life. This creates tension thoughout the novel and makes you squirm when bad things happen. Mr. Gregory's plotting is superb as the mystery to determine what is happening unfolds.

Dust Jacket Summary: It is a world like our own in every respect . . . save one. In the 1950s, random acts of possession begin to occur. Ordinary men, women, and children are the targets of entities that seem to spring from the depths of the collective unconscious, pop-cultural avatars some call demons. There's the Truth, implacable avenger of falsehood. The Captain, brave and self-sacrificing soldier. The Little Angel, whose kiss brings death, whether desired or not. And a string of others, ranging from the bizarre to the benign to the horrific.

As a boy, Del Pierce is possessed by the Hellion, an entity whose mischief-making can be deadly. With the help of Del's family and a caring psychiatrist, the demon is exorcised . . . or is it? Years later, following a car accident, the Hellion is back, trapped inside Del's head and clamoring to get out.

Del's quest for help leads him to Valis, an entity possessing the science fiction writer formerly known as Philip K. Dick; to Mother Mariette, a nun who inspires decidedly unchaste feelings; and to the Human League, a secret society devoted to the extermination of demons. All believe that Del holds the key to the plague of possession-and its solution. But for Del, the cure may be worse than the disease.

What I liked: This is an inventive novel.
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