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Stormland

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They call it Stormland: a sprawling, largely abandoned region of the southeastern coast of the USA, where climate change’s extreme weather conditions have brought about a “perfect storm” of perpetual tempests; where hurricane-strength storms return day after day, 365 days a year.

The heart of Stormland is Charleston, South Carolina, a flooded ruin where hundreds of people remain for their own peculiar reasons; where thugs prey on the weak, and a strangely benevolent cult tries to keep everyone insanely sane. Here, plutocratic evil takes advantage of Stormland’s lawlessness to cultivate a weirdly puppeted theater of cruelty.

Swept into the turbulent vortex of Stormland is an unlikely duo—a former serial killer and a former US Marshal—who must work together to bring light to America’s late twenty-first century heart of darkness.

A cyberpunk detective thriller set in a maelstrom of climatic upheaval, classism, and corrupt power, Stormland paradoxically dramatizes the resilience of the human spirit.

300 pages, Hardcover

First published April 13, 2021

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About the author

John Shirley

264 books402 followers
John Shirley won the Bram Stoker Award for his story collection Black Butterflies, and is the author of numerous novels, including the best-seller DEMONS, the cyberpunk classics CITY COME A-WALKIN', ECLIPSE, and BLACK GLASS, and his newest novels STORMLAND and A SORCERER OF ATLANTIS.

He is also a screenwriter, having written for television and movies; he was co-screenwriter of THE CROW. He has been several Year's Best anthologies including Prime Books' THE YEAR'S BEST DARK FANTASY AND HORROR anthology, and his nwest story collection is IN EXTREMIS: THE MOST EXTREME SHORT STORIES OF JOHN SHIRLEY. His novel BIOSHOCK: RAPTURE telling the story of the creation and undoing of Rapture, from the hit videogame BIOSHOCK is out from TOR books; his Halo novel, HALO: BROKEN CIRCLE is coming out from Pocket Books.

His most recent novels are STORMLAND and (forthcoming) AXLE BUST CREEK. His new story collection is THE FEVERISH STARS. STORMLAND and other John Shirley novels are available as audiobooks.

He is also a lyricist, having written lyrics for 18 songs recorded by the Blue Oyster Cult (especially on their albums Heaven Forbidden and Curse of the Hidden Mirror), and his own recordings.

John Shirley has written only one nonfiction book, GURDJIEFF: AN INTRODUCTION TO HIS LIFE AND IDEAS, published by Penguin/Jeremy Tarcher.

John Shirley story collections include BLACK BUTTERFLIES, IN EXTREMIS, REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY WEIRD STORIES, and LIVING SHADOWS.

source: Amazon

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Displaying 1 - 20 of 20 reviews
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,851 followers
January 14, 2021
Without spoiling it for anyone, I'll just go ahead and confirm that the blurb on this book is right on target for what you should expect.

Storms, storms, storms.

What you should also expect is chaos. Lots of floating bodies. A technothriller with cyberpunk aspects perfectly in line with John Shirley's earlier novels, but rather than taking a revolutionary tack, this feels more like a survival/mystery/thriller. The chaos is much more than the storms, although they also feature very prominently.

I will say, right off the bat, that if you like the complicated and deeply detailed styles of Sean Stewart's Galveston or the feel of some of Tim Power's darker, modern-placed novels, then I can promise you that you'll probably enjoy this very much.

As for the story's conclusion, leaving aside spoilers, I'm not entirely sure I believe the kind of partnership, but there are plenty of internal reasons why it ought to work, so I'm not complaining that much. I prefer good cyberpunk chaos anyway. Nothing says that unlikely friendships CAN'T happen.

It certainly happens here.
Profile Image for David Agranoff.
Author 22 books131 followers
April 13, 2021
Check out the interview I did with the author for the (PK)Dickheads podcast
https://soundcloud.com/dickheadspodca...

This is the kind of review that can turn into a bit of a history lesson unintentionally. I know many of you will not need a refresher on the award-winning novelist and screenwriter John Shirley. His most famous project is probably the classic Brandon Lee goth action movie the Crow, it was Shirley that gave Eric a guitar after all. I am sure many readers have been coming to Shirley in the last few years because of his tie-in work where he elevated franchises like Predator and Hellblazer with really above-average tie-in novels.

That said Shirley had decades of producing short stories and novels that were groundbreaking enough that William Gibson blamed him as cyberpunk patient zero in his introduction to his Science Fiction Masterpiece City-Come-A- Walkin. Shirley’s return to the novel let alone a Science Fiction one is a welcome relief. The last novel we got from Shirley was the criminally underrated historical western Wyatt in Witcha about the young Wyatt Earp in 2014. This was one year after his fantastical after-life mystery Doyle After Death, the last time we got some speculative fiction from Shirley in the novel form.

It was clear with those two novels John was chasing passion projects and the silence on the novel front only led to an active time in short stories, novellas, and more importantly punk rock. With a move back to Shirley’s native Pacific Northwest he re-united with some of the musicians he played with during the pioneer days of Portland punk rock to form a new band the Screaming Geezers. We got a full-length CD and before COVID they were gigging in Portland including opening for Blue Oyster Cult.

With the John Shirley special issue of Weird Book last year, we got a taste of Lovecraftian and Jack Vance-influenced fantasy. Those short works showed that JS was still operating at the master level despite his focus being on his Rock and Roll. So Stormland is a welcome return to form that sees John Shirley slipping back into three subgenres he is none for all at once. The political Science Fiction novel with environmental and cyberpunk themes.

This is not the first high concept environmental novel from JS, the novel this most reminds me of is his 2002 novel Demons. That novel is about massive environmental disasters that are used by evil corporations to raise evil demonic creatures. Stormland in the same way has a very thin line between serious horror and tension and light social satire. I should not have to remind people but not all satire is funny. JS recently did this in a novella published in the Outspoken author series about Arizona being turned into a privately run prison.

The savage social critic that revolutionized Sci-fi in 1978 with a novel about Cities developing a soul and defending themselves is back. He is not wearing dog collars to conventions but the wiser and sharper writer that wrote Stormland is firing on all cylinders.

Set in a future South Carolina that is constantly battered by climate change-driven tropical storms Stormland presents an exaggerated to clarify the future. That said the science behind the wariming of the Atlantic waters is a hell of a lot more possible than many tropes in so-called hard sci-fi that hand wave away plenty of nonsense. The very idea that anyone would choose to stay there is hard to wrap your mind around. At the same time, the novel explores not just the climate future but the future of how we interface with technology seen through this bizarro setting.

“The Amazon forests?” Webb asked, opening the medicine box. He looked at the label, then put a med patch on his arm. “Yes, yes, the forests. Mostly gone, turned into savannah and gold mines and palm oil plantations and beef ranches. Oh yes. The natural moisture pump is gone, don’t you know? Far more moisture gathers out over the sea instead, along with the growing heat, and that increases wind shear. And then . . . then . . . Why, the Gulf Stream weakening as the ice caps melt . . . Of course, that’s a good way north of here but it’s all one system, domino effect of weather cells, do you see . . .” His eyes lost focus; his voice drifted away.”

The novel never gets bogged down in the science of it, but there is enough to carry the story. The power of the storm is always there in the background, like the howling winds that rattles the windows. There are lulls but the storms constantly batter the coast but the power is such that you can't entirely get used to them. Stormland has become a place people have adapted to because they have no choice. Who would stay in New Orleans in the post Katrina world? Who would stay if Katrina kept happening? John Shirley is using speculative fiction to remind a part of the world this may be something they ask themselves soon.

“But this was Stormland. There was always another front coming remorselessly at the coast. A Category Four was coming from the mid-Atlantic, angling to cross their northward flight path. The Butcher Bird should be turned inland to try to dodge the worst of it. But Noel
Leuman had insisted they stay on this course. Leuman was a stormrider.”

Cory Leuman and his father fly in to the area as storm riders, Daryl Webb, an ex-marshall hired to track down a killer in the storm zone. Gerald is there for reasons I don’t want to spoil. There are the people who are there because they have nowhere else to go, thrill seekers who host experiencers who streamed from the outside world by VR and several other neat ideas. The sad reality is there are just people with no where else, no escape because of money and circumstance.

A lot of the most cutting and intense aspects of satire happen in sub-plots and moments of world-building. The privatized FBI is probably the most direct obvious example of Shirley in social satire mode.

“Whenever it was over, I was supremely depressed. Finally—I turned myself in to Justice Incorporated.” The name Justice Incorporated always nettled Webb. He could remember when it was a bureau. The FBI.”

Drug-dealers, Medicated ex-serial killers being used for clinical studies of anti-psychotics, and thrill-seeker online avatars the population of Stormland is made of interesting and remarkable characters. In the hands of a less skilled writer they could become cartoons of themselves. The tension between the characters is well executed with quickfire dialogue but the unspoken elements of making the story crawl under the reader's skin were done with skill.

One aspect of the writing I found most impressive was the way the never-ending storm built-up and drove the narrative in a series of storms and cycles as they doing in the world of the book. I love how JS built the suspense with tiny details ranging from slow-spreading crack in submarines and to the feeling of tilting buildings. The reader certainly feels as though they spent time in Stormland.


“Supposedly, it was dawn. He shook his head. Was this what really passed for dawn around here? It was dark as coffee with a few drops of skim milk as they filed along the concrete strip under the veiled, hissing sky. He wore a loaned rain slicker, but the rain worked its way in at his collar and cuffs, making his legs and upper back wet.”

And

“Isa looked out a porthole. Cory looked too, and they watched a hefty piece of weighty debris fall by, so coated with slime mold it was unrecognizable. It missed them by inches as it spun downward, trailing bubbles. “Out here,” she said, “it’s better if the boat’s computer pilots us. It reacts faster than people. Sees farther ahead.”

Stormland is a warning novel no different from classics like Alas, Babylon or On the beach. The issue at hand is the temperature in the Atlantic ocean. The linage is more directly connected to the eco-Science Fiction of John Brunner's bleak horror novel The Sheep Look Up. The best we can hope for is the world moves to avoid this fate.

“You haven’t been here that long. Just wait. I don’t go for it either, but who’s in charge of Stormland, really? The perpetual storm system is! We crawl around under it hoping it doesn’t stomp us. These people feel like they’ve got to appease it. Easy to get superstitious in all that. Desperate people can go for magical thinking pretty easily, Webb.” After a thoughtful pause, he went on, “A lot of folks around here believe that one day the storms will pass. From what I’ve heard, it might take a century for the cycle to finally stop. The storm system here is—it’s like the red spot on Jupiter, with what we’ve done to the planet. The big storm had to settle somewhere.”

Stormland is a welcome return of the master of social satire science fiction with a razor-sharp punk edge. It is a fierce and angry book that confronts climate change with the proper venom the topic needs. It is written with skill and a quality of prose that will remind you quickly how strong of a voice John Shirley has honed over the years. It is not to far from tone and attitude he expresses with a rock and roll beat. It is every bit as urgent. A must science fiction read for 2021.
Profile Image for Sandy S.
6,195 reviews152 followers
April 11, 2021
4.25 stars--STORMLAND by John Shirley is a near-future, sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk detective thriller set in the year 2039.

Told from third person perspective following several intersecting paths STORMLAND focuses on what was once Charleston, South Carolina and the eastern seaboard of the USA. An environmental apocalypse has rendered the eastern seaboard inhospitable and mostly under water as daily hurricanes and storms ravage the shores and the remaining few who are willing to fight but those who remain behind are caught up in a game controlled by the rich and powerful, leaving a trail of dead bodies in their wake. Enter former US Marshall Darryl Webb, who has been tasked with returning an escaped serial killer, a killer who is unlike anyone Darryl has ever met. As the number of bodies increase, Webb and his Stormland counterpart Gerald, begin to notice a pattern, including a physical injury between the victims.

STORMLAND is a story of power and control; of manipulation and murder; of nano-technology and mind control. John Shirley pulls the reader into a dark, edgy world of constant storms, and haunting virtual realities. The tragic few who remain struggle to survive against the odds, odds that worsen as technology, designer synthetic drugs, and the collapse of the city begin to take its’ toll. The character driven premise though provoking, gritty and edgy; the characters are tragic, desperate and wounded.

www.thereadingcafe.com
Profile Image for Smiley Esq..
Author 27 books31 followers
October 29, 2021
What's with these kids saying "surly" all the time? They must have watched too much South Park. Me, I got my upbringing from Harold Jaffee's Straight Razor, Mark Leyner's Et Tu, Babe, and Robert Coover's A Night at the Movies (or, You Must Remember This) (with John's Wife [1994] as an alternate) -- before Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, coupled with Sputnik Sweetheart and "The Rise and Fall of Sharpie Cakes" short story gave me the architecture to being composing my own short fiction.

This here piece, by the master who gave us New Noir, Really, Really, Really, Really Weird Stories, &c., reminds me of the parts of Johnny Mnemonic, the movie, that stuck: Henry Rollins as a surgeon working on people, collapsing under tents as the world collapsed; Bruce Sterling's Heavy Weather, gangs on the run under fascinating weather run amok, experiencing love lives and murders and other troubles. And of course there's the sweep of Shirley's own A Song Called Youth, and the general principle put forth by Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow: people from varying nations and backgrounds, thrown together and trying to figure each other out as they get along, having wacky adventures.

Most of Portland now is just people who went to Reed College in different ways, or saw South Park in even less-slightly different ways.

I liked this book -- it'll give you a run for your money!

And Blackstone Publishing did a bang-up job with the printing/production -- it looks, smells, and feels nice! And I got it relatively-used, on Abe Books because I'm a cheapo. But Amazon owns that too, now, so what are you gonna do.

Yeah! 😉 #yeah-- #okaybyME--

#shitonaSTICK--

#ROCK*ON*--

#brontëAPPOVED--
Profile Image for BreeAnn (She Just Loves Books).
1,380 reviews102 followers
April 7, 2021
I love a good post-apocalyptic story, and I completely got one in Stormland! I loved that the story made me feel the danger from the weather, from the travel, and from the people. It created a heart racing, edge-of-your-seat roller-coaster ride that I didn't want to get off of.

I really enjoyed the characters. They fill the story out. The storm is always there, it might get quiet for a bit, but it always comes back, and I felt like I could rely on that throughout the story. The characters though, there was so much surprise, change, and growth, it complimented the steadiness of the roaring weather really well.

I think that readers that enjoy a sci-fi post-apocalyptic story will really enjoy this one!

I was provided a gifted copy of this book for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily.
Profile Image for Dark Bites.
2 reviews3 followers
September 24, 2021
Excellent story which showcases John's ability to evoke anxiety, fear, wonder and so much more. A fantastic blend from various genre palettes that I can't recommend enough.
Profile Image for Aimee Dars.
959 reviews84 followers
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July 11, 2021
Thank you to @tlcbooktours and @blackstonepublishing for including me on the book tour for 𝘚𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘥 by John Shirley and for providing me with a review copy of the book!

In the late 2030s, most of the government has been privatized and climate change has rewritten the boundaries of the country. Stormland, an area encompassing the southeastern US, faces daily hurricane-strength storms that have devastated the infrastructure and destabilized communication, leaving the area lawless and sparsely populated. As a result, the area is filled with people who are lost or who don’t want to be found.

Former US Marshall Daryl Webb, sent to Charleston, unofficial capital of Stormland, on a simple mission, becomes entangled with the makeshift communities as he uncovers a deeper, insidious conspiracy. With the help of a reformed serial killer, Webb resolves to bring down the web of evil—if he can stay ahead of the weather.

I always love a good dystopia, and 𝘚𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘥’s worldbuilding is fabulous, and I could so easily imagine the relentless storms as well as the different communities in Charleston, including the Cult of Seth, worshippers of the hurricane. Besides the geopolitical impact of climate change, the book has other interesting predictions about the future, and it’s impactful to see the depiction of the daily battle for survival against the natural elements, hunger, and disease.

I liked the book best when the action focused on Stormland; I found the villains a little exaggerated.

Though this has the DNA of science fiction, the book is paced like a mystery, and I couldn’t tear my eyes away for the final act. I think fans of books like those by Richard Morgan and A. G. Riddle will be particularly interested in this fun to read and thought-provoking book.

Profile Image for Allan Dyen-Shapiro.
Author 10 books7 followers
August 14, 2021
The strength of this novel is the worldbuilding. A near-future Charleston, hit by near-constant hurricanes, wrecked, with those hiding from society sheltered, poorly, in the wreckage. The ultra-rich guy who enjoys riding hurricanes as sport. The even-more-ultra-rich one that can inhabit body-slaves and manipulate them for his perverse enjoyment. The ex-serial killer who now is revolted by killing due to successful brain surgery. The marshal, a cross between the variety from Westerns and the PI from noir detective stories. All these people and more inhabit Stormland. The cast of characters are large, and most exist to showcase some aspect of the world. Any of them could have been developed into a more character-oriented novel. This one is an idea-scape, quite cool, but the characters won't haunt you and remain with you years after you read this like some of Shirley's do (e.g., several of the characters in Wetbones). As far as I know, with all the climate fiction out there, nobody has written one where the hurricanes are the central element, so this one is worth reading for that alone. Don't look for a hero's journey--the bigger problems remained unsolved. But for one of the founders of cyberpunk, characters eking out an existence on the fringe of a collapsed or collapsing society is to be expected and savored.
Profile Image for Penny.
2,048 reviews38 followers
March 28, 2021
I have never read a book by this author, so I really didn’t know what to expect. It was only about a third of the way into this that I found who this author was and his accomplishments. Anyway, this book was a storm-filled, atmospheric-loaded thriller of how the spirit of humanity lives on even when in the worst of situations. Webb starts out his job of finding a killer and ends up realizing that people kill for many reasons when put in a no-win situation. I am not a huge fan of post-apocalyptic books, but this one was very good. The author was a master at making the reader feel everything that was going on around the characters even if sometimes I didn’t know the characters as well as I would have liked. This is a standalone well-worth a read. Recommend. I was provided a complimentary copy which I voluntarily reviewed.
78 reviews1 follower
October 28, 2021
Stormland is a near future, sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk detective thriller. Without giving too much away Stormland is a story of power and control; of manipulation and murder; of nano-technology and mind control. The setting and concept were incredibly interesting. The world building was good, the setting and characters were vividly described, I felt I was right there in the Stormland. This was speculative sci-fi fiction, but I felt everything was believable and realistic and could be possible someday. It was a quick read and interesting enough to keep my attention and keep me turning the pages wanting to find out what happens next. However, John Shirley could have done so much more within this world and its characters.
Profile Image for Pamela.
343 reviews45 followers
July 10, 2021
The Future

Deftly written with sensory laden description, Stormland is unbelievably believable. The setting is in Charleston and climate change has created a ravaged landscape. Storms continue to ravage the city. Once there, it is a challenge to get away. And Webb, former U.S. Marshall, meets many characters as he wends his way through the city. Some are likable, some not. Altogether, an interesting and compelling story.
Profile Image for Mindy.
335 reviews15 followers
January 3, 2022
Honest truth?

I couldn't wait for this book to be over. Too many characters, extremely chaotic, and science that made absolutely no sense. The premise is incredibly creative and I wanted so badly for this to go somewhere different than it did.

Not at all what I was expecting.

Side note: The cover also features a man and a woman but the two main characters are both male??? Could be why I was expecting something so different...

CW: murder, death of a child, death of a parent, pedophilia
Profile Image for Kyle.
192 reviews4 followers
January 15, 2021
I liked this a lot. Shirley used the relentless barrage of hurricanes as a perfect constant atmospheric tool. The dynamics of the characters was well done and used so effectively within the environmental setting. Great plot. This so much felt like the movies Dark City or Blade Runner. I could not stop reading. Great book. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Crawford Smith.
Author 3 books1 follower
May 21, 2021
Gripper cyber-thriller set in a near-future world where the climate has gone bananas. The most compelling part of the narrative is the constant, oppressive danger caused by the non-stop hurricanes and storms. It pervades the entire story and keeps the reader on constant edge. The nonstop threat of Stormland both strange and familiar, and propels the action along with tornado-like intensity.
Profile Image for Jack Kelley.
92 reviews1 follower
June 24, 2021
Interesting setting, bland story, forgettable characters. Maybe I’ll revisit this at some point, but it just didn’t do it for me. Charleston/Stormland and how people survive in it was by far the most unique element here, but unfortunately, the overarching plot is stale and probably not the best use of the admittedly original locale. How about a story focused on the city’s impoverished refugees, and how they have been failed by a government that no longer even exists, instead of a generic ex-marshal with just about every cliche you can think of under his belt who comes in as a white savior to solve a mystery that could’ve unfolded almost the same way in any environment? Our protagonist is the least interesting character by far, and it’s a shame, because Stormland (the place) could be a great vehicle for a biting critique of capitalism, emergency aid, and pollution instead of the background for an uninspired crime thriller.

2.5/5.
Profile Image for Polly Krize.
1,846 reviews37 followers
September 22, 2021
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

With the entire east coast affected by climate change, it is basically an inhospitable, storm ravaged area with 365 days a year hurricanes. Living in South Carolina, many people are stranded and attacked by thugs and predators. An overall good post-apocalyptic read!
154 reviews
July 22, 2021
Storm land

Storm land is what they call it it never ends one hurricane after another buildings falling people trying to survive no medicine no food how do you live wholly you trust you'll find out when you visit storm land
70 reviews1 follower
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July 24, 2021
This has a cool premise, but I just couldn't finish it. I was slogging through it, until finally made it to 70% and I just can't read anymore. If somebody else reads the entire book, would you mind emailing me a summary?
Profile Image for Jennifer Darci.
56 reviews1 follower
Shelved as 'not-finishing'
August 8, 2021
Quote from the book "His eyes lost focus; his voice drifted away.” <--Me. Reading this book.
Profile Image for Wynne McLaughlin.
Author 1 book27 followers
June 21, 2021
At once a hard-boiled detective mystery, a cyberpunk techno-thriller, a nail-biting survival yarn, and a gritty, extreme weather parable of a climate-induced dystopia in the American South, John Shirley's latest is a hell of a fun ride! Somebody better snap up the movie rights for this one, pronto! Highly recommended.
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