Philip K. Dick’s The Cosmic Puppets via Centipede Press Wows, and I mean Wows with a great limited edition of a fantastic book!
Philip K. Dick is an inspiration of mine, and I have only perused a healthy percentage of his prolific body of work…so far.
There is no writing, no fiction, like that of PKD. Nothing comes close.
For this very special article, we kick off the new year with a TFF book review of the 1957 Philip K. Dick classic The Cosmic Puppets and then my first fine press review of the Centipede Press treatment, which they have given to PKD in a gorgeous boxed set trilogy that also contains Dr. Futurity, and Vulcan’s Hammer.
The following TFF Book Review of The Cosmic Puppets by Philip K. Dick is *Spoiler Free
I was surprised upon reading Michael Swanwick’s introduction to this edition that this book is considered Dick’s only fantasy novel.
But I hate labeling genres, and I do not know it, but I suspect he would have as well.
What is immediately intriguing at the outset is the utter realness of the protagonist Ted Barton, as his emotions, confusion and painful revelations shake the reader to their core.
You feel what he feels, and as the precarious situation gets stranger and grander in scope than one would think possible, the suspension of disbelief is there and we hungrily eat up the world that has been built.
It is through this vessel that crafting such a marvelous world is possible.
That world is Ted’s hometown, which he returns to after many years to find its history is not as he has remembered.
And there are unexpected gods, unforeseen characters of diabolical, selfish, and devious minds, and also their foils who are dying lights amidst the darkening battleground for something far vaster than Ted could have ever guessed.
It is here that Philip K. Dick’s voracious appetite for reading Carl Jung, Plato, and any philosopher of note’s text that he could get his hands on shines through masterfully in myriad nuanced subtleties.
Some of the symbolism may seem more obvious, but it is but done in new and unique ways, whether in the grandiose cosmic chess matches, the battles of nature – in all manner of creatures’ strife; nature versus nature – and even in the creation of life through clay it is all remarkable.
The pacing, the stomach gripping suspense, and the quickly unfolding mystery that seizes the weird, and Ted with it, fiercely make this a book that once started cannot be put down.
The Cosmic Puppets by Philip K. Dick As Part Of The Centipede Press Signed Limited Edition Boxed Set Is Spectacular!
The box itself has navy and black cloth and emits quality.
And despite a very modest price-point, not one, but three great PKD novels are encompassed in beauty and a sense of dedication that truly pays respect and homage to the great author’s work.
I am still blown away by the production.
The Centipede Press edition of The Cosmic Puppets is limited to 300 copies signed by all of the contributors, including by Michael Swanwick, Peter Strain, and Chris Moore, with an Estate-approved facsimile signature by Philip K. Dick.
The book itself features an amazing theme bound to the dustjacket art by Peter Strain, which features a boy whose melted head contains a chessboard, honeycombs, and a flurry of bees, while beneath him rests the town upside down, in distress, and it wraps around to the spine and the back as the pieces are held by a hand pulling their strings!
And beneath the jacket is the finest black cloth, with two color foil stamping, and an asteroid-like design bearing Philip K. Dick’s signature on the front, as well as little specks of tiny meteors possibly.
A Centipede staple, there is a history presented in the book’s cover art, from its first novel form in Ace’s two-novel 35 cent paperback to many others, throughout the brilliant introduction.
The fonts, the gorgeous archival artwork by Chris Moore, and the entire design is truly a work of art.
And with that my dear friends, Eager Readers, and comrades, I can give you something to look forward to: there are two other novels in this boxed set that are begging for me to review.
Happy New Year! [I have been told I will have to put money into the jar if I say that after today]
Dark Across The Bay By Ania Ahlborn Coming From Earthling Publications in a S/L edition befitting the thrilling new novel.
The Following TFF Preview Review Will Only Contain **Mild Spoilers** To The Initial Plot Of The Book’s Opening.
Best-selling author Ania Ahlborn takes a fractured family to a secluded vacation home where unnerving and horrific hauntings rattle the reader and the Parrishs alike, and then the stalking begins to slowly unravel everyone’s nerves.
Dark Across The Bay bleeds mysterious hints at insidiousness growing rampant, from the creepy island rental besieging the vulnerable family to the stalkers intruding on them.
Before a marriage can formally dissolve, or Lark and Leo can attempt to move on, everyone is brought to the beach house Airbnb off the coast of Raven’s Head, Maine, 1000 miles from their family home, for a weekend retreat.
The island has only the one house and only one way on or off its shores: by boat.
The expansive residence contains wonderful window views out onto foggy waters, but it seems to be off somehow.
It makes for a great setting, as everything from the building itself to its innards seem creepily askew.
It holds myriad secrets that are tucked away, like the odd nooks and hallways full of unsettling amounts of fishing paraphernalia and hidden corner cubbies full of shabby books.
And ‘Mom’ wants ‘family time’ to be devoid of cell phones in the house, and so the modern interconnectivity of the world and its people easily communicating is stoppered bringing further isolation at times. When the phones come to back to life it is alarming.
The characters are each well met in the story, and the relatable, familiar family interactions spark lots of memories of growing up.
You may not like each member of the Parrishs, but they are certainly all intriguing, from the nearly divorced parents almost certain of their fate, to their two children, who are young adults struggling through recent trauma.
Lark is a novice novelist, battling through a bad break-up, and her brother, Leo, is distanced from her (and everyone), as he aims to leave the grief of his best friend’s death behind with an escape to the shores of Thailand.
Ania Ahlborn brilliantly keeps the characters off balance, as well as the reader.
The seemingly discernable arcs of each of the characters become further and further confused as their sense of calm and, at times, outright sense of terror is ratcheted up in stark, unexpected ways.
Who would torment the family of four? Is it personal, and if so, why travel 1000 miles to dole out such cruel punishment? Are there any supernatural elements at play?
The prose is wonderfully written, painting clear, boisterous scenes with visceral jolts to the heart.
Suspense and old fashioned, yet modernized, and innovative mystery meets elements of horror in this fantastic phantasm of a tale.
Dark Across The Bay by Ania Ahlborn is an amazing work from one of speculative fiction’s brightest minds.
Her use of world building and literary prowess makes for one hell of a story, and Dark Across The Bay debuts on a fine press publisher with Signed and Limited editions from Earthling Publications.
There are 500 numbered, Smyth sewn, offset printed copies, signed by Ania Ahlborn and Josh Malerman, as well as 15 lettered, offset printed, tray-cased hardcovers, with both the book and the tray-case being hand-made using the finest materials, and signed by all contributors.
The gorgeous cover art and interior art is brought to us by renowned illustrator Vincent Chong, and the book contains an introduction from the author as well as best seller Josh Malerman (author of Bird Box and Goblin).
They still have copies available! Take a look here!
If you are not familiar with Earthling, they have made some of the finest hand-crafted editions of books, each with their own unique feel.
An all-time grail for this reviewer is Earthling’s lettered edition of The Hellbound Heart: 20th Anniversary Edition (2007) novella by Clive Barker, and I cannot wait to see what they have in store for the design of Dark Across The Bay by Ania Ahlborn.
We already know the cover art from Vincent Chong is outstanding.
We will conduct a more in-depth review after the book is released, going further into the novel and into the book edition.
But for now this has to be one of the most eagerly awaited suspense and horror books coming this year, and our rating is: