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(Normal #1-4)

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  2,682 ratings  ·  414 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

Kindle Edition, 160 pages
Published November 29th 2016 by FSG Originals
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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  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Dec 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
My boss walked into a conversation in which I was trying to describe the plot of this book. "... and the futurists on both sides (public/corporate) end up having mental breakdowns from their research, referred to as "abyss gaze," and wind up in this psych ward called Normal Head in Oregon..."

"... is this a film?"

"No, it's a book.

"... is it nonfiction?" (She knows I mostly read nonfiction.)

"No, it's fiction. But the real dilemma is that some of the surveillance state stuff in here isn't too far
Bryan Alexander
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: futurism, sf, 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
Apr 10, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

boring boring boring.. never went anywhere...

Vuk Trifkovic
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Book Pairings (Laci Long)
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
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
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
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.
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 17, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Aburrido y sin sentido.
Angus McKeogh
Big brother. Paranoia. The future. That’s the gist of it. Pretty good but seemed to end prematurely.
I enjoyed this primarily for the ideas -- futurists who predict the future too clearly are driven batty by their insight and are sent to an isolated camp to recover (or not) -- rather than the writing. At times the prose is mechanical in a "he did this then he did that" sort of way, as Ellis marks time until he gets to the heart of the matter.

Around the halfway point it really kicks in and we get the full Ellis treatment as numerous characters take turns ranting and raving about the future that
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 o
Jan 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
You get Warren Ellis in two different forms. At his best you well plotted story that weaves in all his tech and futurism reading and research in a way that adds to the characters and the story, even if the characters are pulled from the same pool of stock characters he uses every time. At his worst you get nothing more than vague research vomited out like a series of blog posts with a line of dialogue every page or so, where story and character comes a vast second and the tech talk only goes so ...more
Aug 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a terrifying vision of 5 minutes from now in the surveillance state.
Miquel Codony
M’agrada la idea d’ambientar la novel·la en un manicomi per a especialistes en intentar anticipar el futur enfonsats per la impossibilitat de preveure un futur que no sigui totalment negatiu per a la nostra civilització. Tot i que la sàtira funciona i té algunes escenes molt divertides, el desenvolupament és una mica massa pla i crec que donava per a molt més. Ostres, em treus un grup d’acadèmics teòrics sonats desfermats i... és igual, no vull fer “spoilers”. Val la pena, i el recomano (i la tr ...more
Nicola Mansfield
A good idea that doesn't totally pan out. Set in the not-too-distant future, our main characters are housed in a communal "funny farm" where they are treated to become functional at working, though not necessarily ever becoming "fit" for the outside world. There is a lot of talking and the characters are never explored enough to have any real feelings for either way. Divided into four parts, the book only takes on any excitement at the last section which had me turning the pages. Overall. it is ...more
Ramón Nogueras Pérez
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Warren Ellis es un escritor original, creativo, y con un insospechado talento para la obscenidad y para decir tacos, que yo admiro mucho. Y en esta corta novela, nos plantea un relato de horror lovecraftiano sin un solo monstruo.

Normal Head es una instalación completamente aislada del mundo, donde los futuristas van a ser tratados cuando inevitablemente se les va la olla. Por futuristas, queremos decir expertos que tratan de predecir o adelantarse a lo que va a pasar. Gobiernos, ONGs y corporaci
Freesiab (Bookish Review)
Another tough book to review. Half of it I was totally grooving on and half went over my end. Such is Warren Ellis. It is a proper sci fi, reminders of Bradbury throughout. I loved the protagonist, well all the characters were great. It was just some concepts.. maybe too much for one book. It's not Stephenson after all. A quick 3 hour read.
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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. The movie RED is based on his graphic novel of the same name, its sequel having been released in summer 2013. His graphic novel GLOBAL FREQUENCY is in development at Jerry ...more

Other books in the series

Normal (5 books)
  • Normal: Book 1: A Novel
  • Normal: Book 2
  • Normal: Book 3
  • Normal: Book 4
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“The quiet felt like a huge new country that he could wander around within for years without ever meeting its coastlines. A silence the size of the sky.” 1 likes
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