Dead Girls

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9780002241540: Dead Girls

Falling in love with Primavera, a half-human, half-gynoid blood drinker, Ignatz Zwakh enjoys the adventure of a supernatural lifetime, until his beloved Primavera is infected with a deadly magic dust. Reprint.

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From Publishers Weekly:

In this impressive debut novel, the first volume of a projected trilogy, Calder joins the current band of fantasists (Kim Newman, Marc Laidlaw, Patrick McGrath et al.) who generally depict human beings striving to be human within a decadent, vicious society. Calder follows the exploits of expatriated English teenagers Ignatz Zwakh and Primavera Bobinksi through progressively more harrowing treacheries; these involve not only their adopted Thailand but also a resurgent U.S. government (on the brink of recovering the glory it lost sometime between now and the 2072 of the novel) as well as the English, depicted by Calder as naturally xenophobic. The teens fled England because Primavera is a human/nanotech hybrid known colloquially as "Lilim," after Adam's first wife, Lilith. The Lilim "weren't built around nucleic acids" but do have a "human-like consciousness." It is this quality that binds Ignatz and Primavera, whose relationship drives the narrative. Calder evokes his characters beautifully: "Primavera was a doll now... a Lilim with the treacherous coal-black locks of an errant gypsy girl. Her eyes glowed like viridian isotopes. And her body was filled with the cold deliciousness of allure." Even in the decadence Calder limns in dense, highly imaginative prose (the most realistic representation in fantastic fiction of a decayed England since Newman's Bad Dreams), and even in seemingly the most heartless of characters, love, like the earth itself, abides.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

Calder's debut has already been praised by William Gibson and other sf notables as an ingeniously original vision of a technologically and culturally warped twenty-first century. In a case of nanotechnology gone berserk, a deadly man-made nanovirus has infected England's pubescent female population and is slowly transforming them into sexually provocative, artificial "dolls." Hopelessly smitten with one such doll, teenager Ignatz Zwakh flees England, where the dolls are quarantined and later executed, and accompanies the object of his desire, Primavera, to the illicit love dens of Bangkok's underworld. There, CIA operatives bent on locating the nanovirus' doll progenitor take Ignatz and Primavera into custody and unwittingly trigger the awesome powers latent in Primavera's quantum-based programming. Despite Calder's obvious gift for striking ideas and language, his story line dips a little too heavily into surrealism to deliver a truly satisfying narrative. Still, this first part of a planned trilogy is likely to be lavished with attention in the sf community and may herald the arrival of a major new talent. Carl Hays

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Richard Calder
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