A Dystopia to Call Our Own: Mark Zirbel’s CYBERPUNK ZOMBIE JIHAD

WELCOME TO THE FUTURE… The Ministry of Fear has run roughshod over America: Fighting a holy war with weaponized zombies. Manufacturing angels to keep people’s faith alive. Nuking Mexico in the name of comprehensive immigration reform. Mark Zirbel presents nine interconnected yet wildly different stories of a nightmarish dystopia. Rampant organ harvesters. Mutant sex workers. Terroristic performance artists. Surgery-obsessed androids. Time-looping drugs. It’s a world that’s barely recognizable and, at the same time, all too familiar. It’s the world of CYBERPUNK ZOMBIE JIHAD.

At a moment in time when the government of the United States is being controlled by criminals and narcissist enablers and there is an alarmingly high number of supporters of the president who actually think he is the second coming of Christ, you’d think an absurdist, industrial, horror, sci-fi short story collection of doom about religious intolerance, mass media manipulation, and a world tearing itself apart in a factionalized class war might be a terribly unsettling thing to read. And you would be right!

Mark Zirbel created a wild mash-up of reports from the front, equal parts transgressive and literary science fiction, Cyberpunk Zombie Jihad is more coherent than Burroughs, less precious than Ballard, and puts more emphasis on the “punk” in cyberpunk than Gibson. Bonus for you if you grew up in the late 80s/early 90s and listened to bands like Skinny Puppy, Pigface, early NIN, and mid-period Ministry, you can practically hear these bands creating a soundtrack for the book! Zirbel paints vivid scenes, a bit of a literary Hieronymous Bosch. From page one we are immersed in a hellscape/alternate reality/paranoid prophecy populated by a cast of characters I’d love to see realized on the big screen (Richard Stanley? Gregg Araki?).

Light reading this is not, especially if you’re a news junky like me and you’re really plugged in to what’s happening globally and nationally. Genetically engineered angels mass-produced to keep people faithful might seem far-fetched, but then the president goes on live TV denies wrong-doing, then details how he did do the bad thing, but that it wasn’t really bad, and that everything that we’re being told never happened…so there’s not really a bottom anymore and every nut bag scenario is on the table, making this a book very much of its time, but wisely never letting current events date the book or anchor it to 2020. In fact, if you’d handed me this book and told me it came out in 1993 I wouldn’t question it.

Cyberpunk Zombie Jihad is available now from Nihilism Revisited and you can get it HERE or have your local book shop order it for you.


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