/ Cory Doctorow / 4 am Wed, Oct 11 2017
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  • Volk: a sinister, Lovecraftian tale of eugenics, Naziism, and "radiant abomination"

    Volk: a sinister, Lovecraftian tale of eugenics, Naziism, and "radiant abomination"

    Volk is the sequel to Eutopia, the brilliant, sinister supernatural tale of the real-world 19th century eugenics movement, written by Canadian horror great David Nickle.

    Volk picks up decades after Eutopia let off, with the survivors of the great and terrible massacre that wiped out the brutal eugenics colony and the parasitic monster it worshipped recovering from another great and terrible killing: World War I. The heady interwar years find the scattered survivors in Paris, still haunted by the monster that had the power to control the humans it fed on by making them see and believe things that were not there.

    Some of them have tried to put those horrors behind them. Others are fascinated by them, forming a learned cryptobiological society to study the pickled monster foetus that was preserved from the great killing. Others have disappeared into post-war malaise and shell-shock.

    But they are no more able to sit on the sidelines than the world's nations are, not while German fascists, obsessed with racial perfection, inspired by the American eugenic experiments, are gaining strength in Bavaria.

    Volk is a tale that opens on the eve of the Beerhall Putsch, introducing us to a mysterious fellow called Orlok, a giant who seems to be part monster, able to replicate the feats of the elder god Jukes that haunted the pages of Eutopia. Orlok is a subject of fascination for the fascists eugenicists and the unaffiliated cryptobiologists on both sides of the Maginot, to say nothing of Stalin's covert operation, all of whom have great plans for this Ubermensch and his power to bend people to his will.

    Nickle's beautifully researched and evocative scene-setting is reminiscent of Ian Tregillis's brilliant Milkweek series, and he pulls of sheer pyrotechnics with his prose, giving us a taste of the double-vision experienced by his characters as they slip in and out of the dreamworld of the Juke and Orlok.

    It's a nailbiter of an action novel that is spooky as hell, a critical and sharp demolition of Lovecraft's own romanticization of eugenics, a notion that Nickle demolishes with Lovecraft's own tools -- very satisfying indeed.

    Volk: A Novel of Radiant Abomination [David Nickle/Chizine]

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