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Mortality Bridge Hardcover – July 31, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Luminously tragic, darkly funny, and deeply moving, all in turns and sometimes all at once. Boyett is one of the few writers who will make you eager to go into Hell, and not worry about whether you return. I wasn't expecting how much this book affected me. Good stuff, folks. Don't miss out." --John Scalzi (Old Man's War, Whatever)

"Through unusual turns of phrase, heart-rending introspection, and mythic tone, Boyett explores themes of betrayal, redemption, and personal sacrifice in a tortured landscape of bedlam and pandemonium." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Niko's race through Hell is one of the greatest supernatural adventure stories of recent memory. It is not a mere allegory about sin and redeption, cowardice and nobility: it's also a damned good story, which sets it apart from almost all existential allegories."  --Cory Doctorow

"Brilliant. An unforgettable tale of one man's journey to Hell. The writing is filled with vivid sensory detail. I was pushed to my limits by this one. Immeasurably sad. Moments of transcendent joy and beauty and compassion. A very well-written book that made me feel intense emotion. I recommend it." --Fantasy Literature

"Mortality Bridge has something for everyone: great characterization, vivid description, pulse pounding action. It's a story of human weakness and redemption that's even older than the myths the novel draws upon, a story we can all relate to. An incredible, touching, exhilarating work that I wholeheartedly recommend." --SF Revu

About the Author

Steven R. Boyett was born in Atlanta, Georgia, grew up all over Florida, and attended the University of Tampa on a writing scholarship before quitting to write his first novel, Ariel, when he was nineteen. Soon after Ariel was published, he moved from Florida to Los Angeles, California, where he continued to write fiction and screenplays, as well as teach college writing courses. He has published articles and comic books, as well as stories in literary, science fiction, fantasy, and horror anthologies and magazines. In the early nineties, his imprint Sneaker Press published chapbooks by the poets Carrie Etter and the late Nancy Lambert. Boyett has also been a martial arts instructor, professional paper marbler, advertising copywriter, proofreader, tyepsetter, writing teacher, website designer, and editor. In 2000, Steve took some time off from writing. He learned to play the didgeridoo and began composing and DJ’ing electronic music. As a DJ, he has played clubs, conventions, parties, Burning Man, and sporting events. He produces three of the world’s most popular music podcasts: Podrunner, Podrunner: Intervals, and Groovelectric.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 422 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean; Signed Limited edition (July 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596063750
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596063754
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,534,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Mortality Bridge is the Steven R. Boyett book I'd been waiting for. I thought that book was coming last year when I heard a long-awaited sequel to Boyett's wonderful fantasy novel, Ariel, was coming out. That sequel, Elegy Beach, was good but less intense than the original, like Boyett was trying to rekindle energy for a world that had enthralled him almost 30 years earlier. Like Nietzsche, I love only what a man has written with his blood, which Ariel was but Elegy Beach came a bit short of.
But Mortality Bridge is the best Boyett so far. It has all the wonderful imagination in its plot as Ariel had, but it is far better written, simply beautiful prose. Boyett fuses two powerful myths, Faust and Orpheus, and sets them in modern times. Like Faust, the rock musician main character Niko has made a deal with the devil that costs him his beloved girlfriend's life, and like Orpheus he descends into hell to retrieve her. The hell he describes is ghastly and spellbinding, and his journey through it has you turning pages faster than anything Stephen King ever wrote. The passage through hell, which constitutes most of the novel, is so vividly described, so mesmerizing, that I could visualize it as clearly as if it were a movie, and a great movie it would be.
The best thing about the book, which raises it above even Ariel, is that it is the product of not only an intelligent but now a fully matured mind able to grasp the metaphysical implications of its profound subject matter. It takes on questions of immortality, the nature of the psyche, the forces that may or may not govern the universe and treats each with the astute wisdom it deserves. It seldom insists on any answers to these questions; rather, like all our best teachers, Boyett leads us to deeper questions. The finest book I've read in a long time.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a tough book for me to review. I mostly love Boyett's writing---his Ariel is one of my favorite books ever. And this novel is no exception. The characters are incredibly deep and real and the descriptions are wonderful craftmanship. The book is incredibly written in every detail.
But I HATED most of the book. It isn't the idea of Hell, or the incessant torture, it's the fact that the POV character and the author don't spend enough time reflecting on the unfairness of the place and what sort of God would allow it to be that way. Even children are being tortured for all eternity in this version of Hell. And with all this horror, Niko is so wrapped up in his own little world that all he can think of is saving his girlfriend's soul.
While this is supposed to be an improvement over his previous narcissism, it's not MUCH of an improvement and I could never really feel any sympathy for our "hero." Or anyone else in the book, for that matter.
Can you like a book while hating everyone in it? I don't know.
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Format: Hardcover
Depressing. Disgusting. Brilliant.

When trying to think of words to describe Mortality Bridge, I keep coming back to variations on those three. Steven R. Boyett has written an unforgettable tale of one man's journey to Hell, and I wish I liked it better than I did. Ordinarily I enjoy descents to the underworld, but we all have our limits, and with Mortality Bridge, I think I've found some of mine.

The story centers on Niko, a rock musician. He was a strung-out, washed-up failure when an agent of the Devil approached him with a deal. Niko accepted -- and got famous, got sober, and got his girlfriend Jemma back. But now Jemma is dying of a mysterious illness, which Niko didn't bargain for. He bones up on mythology and the occult, learning everything he can about "hadeography" (the geography of Hell), and then follows Jemma into the underworld to bring her back. The publisher's blurb mentions Dante, Faust, Orpheus, the blues legend of the Crossroads, and Hieronymus Bosch as influences, and indeed that's all there, blended by Boyett into a cohesive whole.

The writing is filled with vivid sensory detail; the reader sees and hears and smells everything right along with Niko. Clipped sentence fragments, lengthy sentences strung together with "ands" or commas, and impromptu compound words help create a stream-of-consciousness effect in places. Here's a passage that exemplifies the style and the subject matter:

"On the other side of the rock outcropping the lake of blood cannot be seen again. Only the evercrawling line, the names called from the bottomless list, the neverending plain.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Made me feel self conscious about finishing, and I have a strong stomach. Puts a capital "G" in "grotesque" and "gratuitous violence," although it does take place in Hell, after all.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I began reading Steven Boyett when I was a teenager and he wasn’t much older than me at the time. I took a liking to his first story Ariel and never forgot him- even as I got older, even after Boyett disappeared off the face of the earth. When I rediscovered this fantastic author, I was happy to see the sequel to Ariel, blind to anything else he wrote. Now that I have read Mortality Bridge, I’m having a difficult time remembering his other work.

The good stuff… The writing is brilliant. The words themselves are living, throbbing, moving creatures that crawl off the tablet and make your skin crawl. Difficult it is to find a page or passage that is devoid of poetic construction. The story is modern and pop culture and classic and ancient. There were prominent elements of Mortality Bridge that were spot light predictable, and yet it didn’t bother me in the least. It’s the journey, not the destination. The confluence of so many legends mixing together in Boyett’s “hadeography” created their own unpredictability where I would wonder if he would borrow from Faust or Milton or throw something downright weird into the mix. Red plastic beach shovels come to mind (shudder).

The bad stuff… The descriptions were awful to read, and I have a pretty strong stomach. I would never want my kids to read this book even when they reach their teens, and I have reservations over referring a friend or family member. Hermaphroditic demons who let it all hang out, the tortured methods of Hell’s denizens, the brutality of the finality of people’s existence for all eternity.

Which leads me to Mortality Bridge’s biggest problem: who is the audience? Horror enthusiasts won’t find the boogie man or vampires or zombies they crave.
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