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(Normal #1-4)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  3,285 ratings  ·  497 reviews
A smart, tight, provocative techno-thriller straight out of the very near future—by an iconic visionary writer

Some people call it "abyss gaze." Gaze into the abyss all day and the abyss will gaze into you.
There are two types of people who think professionally about the future: foresight strategists are civil futurists who think about geo-engineering and smart cities and w
Paperback, 148 pages
Published November 29th 2016 by FSG Originals
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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 ·  3,285 ratings  ·  497 reviews

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Dec 18, 2016 added it
Shelves: sci-fi
I was sent this book and I didn't know what to expect. It was written in installments over the last year, and now it's compiled into one work. It's a really interesting cyberpunk-ish novella involving governmental surveillance, paranoia, and a bizarrely engaging set of characters. A really quick and fun read.

It also has my favorite line from any book this year, it made me laugh out loud: ""Dickson appeared from nowhere, like the world's shittiest elf..."
Sam Quixote
Dec 13, 2016 rated it did not like it
Adam Dearden is a burnt-out futurist (someone who thinks professionally about the future) who gets sent to a special facility in an “experimental” Oregon forest (whatever that is) to recuperate: Normal Head. And then an inmate disappears and the place intended to be devoid of any kind of intrusive tech is suddenly swarming with surveillance.

I’ve been a huge fan of Warren Ellis’ comics for years and really enjoyed his first novel, Crooked Little Vein, but his latest foray into fiction, Normal, i
Jon Nakapalau
Love his work in comics; so when I saw this book I snapped it up. Very interesting story about technology and the rift between inception and application - what happens when you are part of something that is used for evil - you did not see it coming (or did you just ignore the bigger questions because you were focused on you own little area of theoretical importance). Nice quick read with very deep questions.
Paul E. Morph
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Warren Ellis takes his tinfoil hat out for a spin again in this paranoid slice of techno-fear-mongering. There isn’t much here plot-wise, and I wouldn’t recommend it to mystery lovers, but I enjoyed it.

Remember, just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after you...
Warren Ellis’ brain is a very, very strange place; I never really know what I am in for when I pick up any of his work, and “Normal” fits Ellis’ pattern of bizarre, unexpected, funny and disturbing.

When your job is to think about the future, whether as a strategic forecaster (the kind employed by corporations and governments) or as a civil futurist (such as urbanists and geoengineers), your work will eventually take a toll on you, on a very different level than the work-related stress most peopl
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I could listen to Warren Ellis riff about End-of-the-World/apocalypsism scenarios all day... and I'll take any narrative excuse at all to explore these Big Ideas. In true Ellis fashion, it's mind-boggingly smart and at once too short. Much to ponder. Also, often funny in that charming yet fucked up way. Here's to hyperintellegencia paranoia! ...more
Dec 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Shades of Gibson, in that it will make you depressed to live in 2016. I mean, more so.
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it
The actual rating would be 3 1/2 stars for me . This was a short story , I haven't read short story books in a long time ... it was engaging ... but it was superficial ...there is no time for development of characters but then again it was only 148 pages ... but if you are into sci fi and thrillers , you might like this ...the story is not bad , it is innovative and fast paced ... get a good coffee by your side and you'll finish this book in a blink ... and the conclusion is scary in that it cou ...more
Marianna Neal
I loved the idea behind this novella, but I really think this could have been executed better. This speculative futuristic story had so much potential! I kept wanting to know more about this near-future world and all those people who think about the future professionally, but there just wasn't enough time for that in this short novella. It also didn't really offer anything new as far as the commentary on our over-reliance on technology goes, and missed an opportunity to properly explore the ment ...more
Steven Walle
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was about futurists who stare into the abis to long and go insane from it. They are taken to a sanatariam where they remain the rest of there lives.
I would recommend this book to all. It is a quick easy read.
Enjoy and Be Blessed
lark benobi
This novel has a breezy lackadaisical fan-fiction feeling to it. I had the sense that Ellis just typed along, and this novel is what happened. I enjoyed reading it. I felt a little neglected by it, though. It felt as if the author kept trying to project a feeling in my direction of not caring whether he impressed me or not, or whether I kept reading or not. The feeling was pronounced enough to make me believe he really did care about impressing me, and by trying by pushing me away, was trying to ...more
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
Really lazy writing with a good idea. I'm not sure Ellis has learned that writing fiction is not the same as writing a graphic novel, his dialogue is especially weak, often reading like a cheap joke written by a teenager to demonstrate how world aware they are, and painfully reminiscent of the crap my friends churned out in film school. There's some good stuff in here, obviously, Ellis didn't just become an idiot overnight or anything, it's just lost in the silliness and obviousness. Surveillanc ...more
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 21st-century
Interesting premise, but the novel itself is too unfocused to do it justice. I wanted to know more details about the world, but Ellis would just jump around to concepts that didn't seem to exist other than giving the book a sense of "ripped from the headlines" recency.
Additionally, I think the initial serialized four-part release didn't make sense for a book that is 120 pages long, and it ended up distracting from the novel as a whole.
Book Riot Community
Any time you pick up something by Warren Ellis, you know it’s going to be weird and wild and awesome. The same is true for his new novel, Normal, a techno-thriller about two groups of strategists taking on the challenge of the impending end of civiliazation. When staring in the face of doom brings on depression and anxiety, they are sent to a special recovery center to get better. But then one of the patients goes missing…

Backlist bump: Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis

Tune in to our weekly po
Bryan Alexander
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, futurism, mystery
"All communication becomes dangerous" (56)
Normal is a fun novella with a terrific premise. Every so often futurists go insane when they look too deeply into the future, a condition Ellis dubs "abyss gaze" (15). A facility called Normal (!) treats them, and that's the setting. Into Normal enters our freshly mad protagonist, who quickly stumbles into a locked room mystery.

This little book has many pleasures, all familiar to anyone who's read Warren Ellis. There's a lot of humor, often darkly tinge
Vuk Trifkovic
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
5* for the concept. Asylum for broken futurologists. amazing.
4* for the turn of phrase. Some wonderful stuff I will try to drop in my conversations.
2* for the actual writing. Too many set pieces and awkward transitions.
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
That's a helluva book. I hadn't read any prose by Warren Ellis but it's pretty damn good. A punchy, funny, dark mindfuck. It's not quite as colorful (literally and figuratively) as his comics but it's a fast and furious read. ...more
Apr 10, 2017 rated it did not like it

boring boring boring.. never went anywhere...

Laci Long || Book Pairings
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I came across Normal it was categorized as a science fiction novella, but it’s really more of a futurist, speculative fiction novella. I’d also say that this is a cautionary tale about what could happen if we continue to give up our privacy willingly for the sake of convenience.

Normal takes place in the not so distant future at Normal Head Station, a mental-health/rehab facility for forecasters and futurists to seek treatment after burnout and looking into the “abyss” a few too many times.
Edward  Goetz
Dec 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
I put this on my science fiction shelf, but most of it is probably real, which is actually pretty scary. Ellis is a bit of a futurist and he manages to pack quite a few of his ideas and theories into the space of a novella.

Normal is a place where futurists go after they have nervous breakdowns. The book follows one such person from intake, meeting other interesting people (with disturbingly interesting ideas), to the final big reveal of why this particular person had his breakdown. It is also pe
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I grabbed this slim book from the library knowing the basic premise, but not really knowing what to expect, and I ended up really liking it. It's amusing, but also horrifying, specifically if you spend too much time imaging futures likely and unlikely, it IS likely to drive you crazy. I think modern life to a degree requires that we hold the future in careful abeyance lest the weight of it crush us. This book playfully looks at what happens when we fail. ...more
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I'm not at all ashamed to say that sometimes when I read a book I just have no clue what in the good god damn is really going on. This is one of those times. ...more
Dec 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Odd little sci-fi book. In the future (or possibly happening right now) futurists who have mental breakdowns due to how the future looks to be, are sent to Normal Head in Oregon. Normal Head is a mental institution and is a pretty odd place itself. As for plot, a patient goes missing and there are a lot of insects crawling around. An investigation ensues.

I found some of this confusing, lots of technical mumbo-jumbo, but that doesn't detract from the plot. It does detract from holding my interest
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review and others posted over at my blog.

I picked this up because of the cover (illustrated by Pedro Sanches) and borrowed it because of the description and I’m pretty sure I missed most of what was going on, but it was fun to read so I don’t care.

I read this entirely in one sitting because the characters were so addicting and I had to know what was going on in this madhouse up in the woods. This book was not at all what I expected, but I’m not mad. I assumed the “abyss gaze” was a form
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
After having a nervous breakdown, a strategic futurist finds himself in a special mental hospital (named Normal) that caters to his profession. When one of the patients transforms into 200 pounds of spiders, beetles, and centipedes, he must hold fast his splintering sanity long enough to figure out what the hell is going on.

As a mystery, Normal is adequate, but this thin (150pp) volume is really a vehicle for Ellis to sound the alarm about various looming social or technological catastrophes. Ea
Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
"The Gun Machine" will probably remain my favourite book by Ellis, but this one comes in as a close second, passing by the "Crooked Little Vein". Disguised as an Agatha Christie type detective story on steroids, it is actually a collection of encounters for the main hero (to which we should add our own encounter with him), each of these disclosing a desperate vision of a future, from a particular and rational point of view - and yet always an insanity predicated on the need to remain sane. Well, ...more
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is much better than the first Ellis novel I read, Crooked Little Vein, as both characters and story stepped up. I am aware that this was initially serialized online, but that's OK, so was the last John Scalzi book I read.

While a little of the basic concept follows Ellis' current Image Comics series Injection, I think he executes character and story better here. Normal Head Station is where agencies (government, private, covert, and overt) send their forecasters and futurists when they have
Aug 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Read this in installments over July (a quarter of the book was posted every Tuesday).

We are very very lucky that Warren Ellis was born when he was so that he would be at this time in his life as our world is at this time in its life. He, like William Gibson, just sees and understands things and helps us see and understand them, and he rips them to shreds with his sense of humor and his anarchic prose and story style.
Angus McKeogh
Jun 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Big brother. Paranoia. The future. That’s the gist of it. Pretty good but seemed to end prematurely.
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a Warren (Transmetropolitan, The Authority, Planetary, Iron Man) Ellis novel about two groups of people who are professional futurists: that is, they are paid to extrapolate where events and technology are headed. They share one difficulty: it’s a business that can make gazing into the abyss feel like it is indeed gazing back at you! And what IS gazing at us? This is the heart of the locked-door mystery that cradles the compact plot, set at a retreat where organizations that appraise the ...more
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Warren Ellis is the award-winning writer of graphic novels like TRANSMETROPOLITAN, FELL, MINISTRY OF SPACE and PLANETARY, and the author of the NYT-bestselling GUN MACHINE and the “underground classic” novel CROOKED LITTLE VEIN, as well as the digital short-story single DEAD PIG COLLECTOR. His newest book is the novella NORMAL, from FSG Originals, listed as one of Amazon’s Best 100 Books Of 2016.


Other books in the series

Normal (4 books)
  • Normal: Book 1 (Normal, #1)
  • Normal: Book 2 (Normal #2)
  • Normal: Book 3 (Normal #3)
  • Normal: Book 4 (Normal, #4)

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