Genre: Dystopian Science-Fiction/Noir
Pages: 68/78 kb
I know a man will kill for family without a second blink.
I've turned into an avid supporter of the novella's return. Not only it's a great compromise between the often fragmented short story and the intimidating novel that might just get lost readers back into the game, it's also a literary forms where authors get bolder and try stuff up they wouldn't put in a novel right away. BY THE NAILS OF THE WARPRIEST illustrates this upside and quite frankly, takes it to a new level *.68 pages may seem short to you, but it's the right length for a story packed with so much ideas. Whether it's within the narrative or straight on the page, Nik Korpon's first novella is a small achievement in dystopian science-fiction, in noir storytelling and in literature in general. There is a lot of talent dwelling in the next generation of noir/hardboiled authors and Nik Korpon is one of its most interesting stylists.
It's set in a yearless, nameless distant future where the world has become a pale ruin of what it once was and memories of a better time is the drug that junkies fight over. The narrator is a thief of memories. He slips into peoples' homes and steal them right from their head, leaving his victims empty shells. He is working for a man he calls The Boss, since his wife and his son have disappeared and were most likely murdered. Only problem is that the narrator is also hooked to memories and stumbles one day upon those of the man who stormed his family's house. Turns out that what really happened is not as easy to swallow at it first seemed.
What makes Korpon's future so gripping and real is the vocabulary he uses. The inhabitants of this world have retracted to using such infantilizing words, their outlook on the world becomes more helpless, naive. Everything has becomes about The Party and The people, having face off in The Struggle (classic right vs left here, but still) and there are stories about Riots, but everything is so imprecise and menacing, it makes you feel like a child wandering in a world of adults he doesn't fully understands. Creates a suffocating and paranoid atmosphere. The narrator is an expert of the past, trapped in this seemingly eternal present and through the memories, he gets perspective on his situation, it hasn't always been like this. Even after The Struggle, life once was better.
"It is not our will, but the Father's."
"When are you going to start praying with your own words?"
You fill find distant echoes of dystopian classics in BY THE NAILS OF THE WARPRIEST. The most evident being Philip K. Dick's DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? It was a part they cut from the movie adaptation BLADERUNNER, but in the novel there is a mediated access to a better past also. I guess that's a little bit what religion is, the mediated access to what mankind might've once had. It is a very short novella, but it makes it even more worth your time and effort. I would've taken a five hundred pages novel of such a haunting narrative. Nik Korpon is a writer is a very distinctive voice. He has a natural talent to create atmospheres and to pace a story that will keep your reading in a single, trance-like sitting. At this length, I'd say it's more of hint of what he can do, but it sure made me want more. BY THE NAILS OF THE WARPRIEST packs muscle and finesse at the same time and blends two genres to near perfection. You don't want to miss out on Nik Korpon.
* What a strange title, by the way huh? Rather peculiar. Nik Korpon's a peculiar name too, but it calls attention to itself. You're not likely to forget BY THE NAILS OF THE WARPIEST by Nik Korpon like you would...I don't know...MURDERS IN THE PARK by John Norton.