The People's Republic of Everything Paperback – August 29, 2018
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A Campus Circle Best Holiday Book of 2018
[STARRED REVIEW] “Each tale is entertaining on its surface, but all hold a deeper meaning . . . This collection will be an easy sell to readers who enjoy genre-blending authors of thought-provoking and topical tales, such as Jeffrey Ford, China Miéville, and Jeff VanderMeer.”
“The 15 stories in Mamatas’s strong collection show impressive imaginative range, cutting across the boundaries of fantasy and science fiction and veering into territory that defies genre pigeonholing.”
“Bay Area author Nick Mamatas is renowned in his work and in his online presence as witty and perspicacious; his new collection will bolster that reputation . . . brilliant, oddball.”
“The People's Republic of Everything is a subversive and darkly humorous collection of stories showcasing author Nick Mamatas's ability to work across a variety of genres.”
“A whole lot of these stories could be described as ‘revolutionary’―both in the sense of involving actual revolutions on small and large scales, and regarding the author’s tendency to recombine the materials of SF, crime, literary, and experimental fiction in new and provocative ways. To which I can only say―long live the revolution.”
“Mamatas at his best. Makes me laugh. Makes me drop things. Makes me read on. Makes me run for cover.”
―Terry Bisson, author of Bears Discover Fire
“Mamatas is such a great novelist that it's easy to forget he also writes superb short stories. This collection is a testament to his short-form chops, and a powerful one at that.”
“Sharp characterization, a terrific sense of place, and a willingness to change things up.”
“Nick Mamatas is the gadfly that makes the horse buck―whip-smart and no bullshit and with one hell of a bite. These are canny, nimble stories that navigate between genre and literature, and are unlike what anyone else is writing.”
―Brian Evenson, author of The Warren and A Collapse of Horses
"How does speculative fiction retain its relevance in an era when daily events feel fictitious and the mere possibility of a future seems speculative? If anyone knows the answer, it’s Nick Mamatas. The People’s Republic of Everything is a great leap forward. Let’s hope there’s somewhere to land.”
―Jarett Kobek, author of I Hate the Internet
“Mamatas extracts the essence of several sub-genres and cult followings that are in themselves so niche, obscure, and esoteric and creates a genre that is uniquely him . . . Kerouac’s language, Lovecraft’s atmosphere, and Bukowski’s coarseness.”
“Nick Mamatas is a sharp, sarcastic, amazing writer whose fiction runs the gamut from horror to speculative to literary . . . a great collection.”
“Mamatas has drawn upon a wide range of personal and political concerns―the life of the writer, ruminations on parenthood, the fate of left-wing politics―to write stories that are funny, deeply evocative and bewildering.”
“Author Nick Mamatas’ latest book The People’s Republic of Everything is another must read.”
“Best known for his excursions into the Lovecraftian, Nick Mamatas shows his full range in the short story collection The People's Republic of Everything. From a steampunk A.I. Karl Marx to Berkeley anarchists to a father and son who build a nuclear garden gnome and secede from the U.S., Mamatas dazzles with a singular, satirical wit.”
“Mamatas’ The People’s Republic of Everything is a literary tour de force, juggling a multitude of genres, styles, themes, and experimentation with form.”
Praise for I Am Providence
[STARRED REVIEW] “A great choice for readers who enjoyed Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country; those who liked the dark humor, mystery, and speculative elements in Ben H. Winters’ The Last Policeman trilogy; and anyone who has ever been part of a fandom.”
“Mamatas provides a heartfelt homage to Lovecraft lore, perfectly captures the antics of conventioneers, and comments on the cutthroat politics of online publishing and the recent discussions of Lovecraft’s bigoted views.”
“Mamatas knows his subject inside and out, and that makes I Am Providence all the more cutting . . . I Am Providence is pointed social commentary wrapped in a bilious in-joke―but one that's more than worth getting in on.”
“Mamatas revels in the unfurling tentacles of his narrative, which is a many-toothed, many-eyed beast all its own.”
―B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
“Just what I'd expect from Nick Mamatas: sharp wit, biting but humane social commentary, and, for the romantics among us, a faceless narrator decomposing at the morgue.”
―Matt Ruff, author of Bad Monkeys and Lovecraft Country
On Under My Roof (Now featured in The People's Republic of Everything)
“[STARRED REVIEW] A big-bang ending caps the fast-paced novel, and there’s much fun to be had watching Mamatas merrily skewer his targets.”
“What about the Great American Suburban Novel? Somewhere in there, as of now, you almost have to include Nick Mamatas’ Under My Roof, an oddball, occasionally hilarious, surprisingly wise and out-and-out subversive little pocket-nuke of a book.”
―San Diego Union Tribune
“Nick Mamatas continues his reign as the sharpest, funniest, most insightful and political purveyor of post-pulp pleasures going. He is the People’s Commissar of Awesome.”
―China Miéville, bestselling author of The City & the City
“Mamatas is a powerfully acerbic writer, both in fiction and online. His acid wit is infamous.”
―Cory Doctorow, bestselling author of Walkaway
On The Damned Highway
“The book is incredibly entertaining and, aside from a strange turn towards the end, is a great trip through a fictional history of the 1972 presidential elections.”
“[A] a clever, disturbing, and absurd (in the best sense) mash-up of Lovecraft and Hunter S. Thompson that made our recommended gift list for the year.”
―Weird Fiction Review
“Mamatas’ The People’s Republic of Everything is a literary tour de force, juggling a multitude of genres, styles, themes, and experimentation with form.” ―Fanbase Press
About the Author
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The collection contains the short novel Under My Roof (originally published in 2005), which alone is worth the price of admission. The young narrator's account of what happened after his father built a nuclear bomb, put it into a garden gnome, and declared their house a sovereign state is by turns hilarious, wickedly satirical (especially on the subjects of politics and suburban vacuity), and touching. A dozen stories lead up to the novel. In the first, "Walking with a Ghost," Mamatas combines AI and HPL to good effect. A number of the stories in the collection--including the excellent "We Never Sleep," one of the best pieces in the book--deal with unsettling intersections of the human and the mechanical. "Arbeitskraft" and "The Great Armored Train" play with technology and the early history of communism in very different ways. "The Glottal Stop" is as terrifying a look at the dark underbelly of our social-media-driven society as anything Black Mirror could dream up. And the title story, set, of course, in Berkeley, is both sardonic and weirdly cheerful. As a bonus, each story is followed by a note from the author; people who like learning how a story came to be, and learning a bit about the author in the process (I am such a one), will appreciate these.
Bottom line: Mamatas does not write conventional genre fiction; he writes intelligent stories, often rather dark, always a little weird, that take genre elements in unexpected directions, and may disconcert the reader--which is a good thing. Highly recommended.
There are two things that would make Nick as well-known a fiction writer as he deserves: that short stories got more attention, and, more crucially, that we valued pastiche and satire more than we do. Fandom pastiche is one of the defining modes of the 21st century, of course, but disquieting political satire in the form of smart genre-slipping imitation just doesn't really have a place in our collective literary imagination.
My long abstract online acquaintanceship with Nick causes me to know that he wouldn't say no to being a cult author; the problem is that what we look for in our cult figures is something we call "sincerity" or "authenticity," the idea that this person just can't help it, that their art is a raw expression of, um, rawness. Nick *can* help it; his fiction is too canny and self-aware to be culty in the way we recognise. His fiction creates genre expectations, and then steps outside them and looks at them.
This is a thing that I like a lot. If you like it too, you should buy this book.
Mamatas peppers his stories with complex historical and cultural themes and sometimes doesn't seem to mind much if the reader doesn't keep up. For example, “Arbeitskraft” is much better with prior knowledge about Friedrich Engels and Marxist theory and "The Spook School" is a bit hard to follow without understanding the occult themes in the paintings of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. If that sounds like a lot, well, it is.
It isn't a bad thing exactly. It gives the story settings some texture and realism, but a few of the stories were much better after some Wikipedia research and a reread.
There were also a couple stories that feel like they were phoned-in or rushed for the sake of a paycheck (Mamatas nearly admits as much in the author notes). And a couple more had strong beginnings but fizzled before the end.
Overall, however, it was an excellent collection and I may look for another one by Mamatas the next time I find myself in the mood for something a little subversive.