A smart, tight, provocative techno-thriller straight out of the very near future—by an iconic visionary writer
Some people call it "abyss gaze." Gaze into the abyss all day and the abyss will gaze into you.
There are two types of people who think professionally about the future: foresight strategists are civil futurists who think about geo-engineering and smart cities and ways to evade Our Coming Doom; strategic forecasters are spook futurists, who think about geopolitical upheaval and drone warfare and ways to prepare clients for Our Coming Doom. The former are paid by nonprofits and charities, the latter by global security groups and corporate think tanks.
For both types, if you're good at it, and you spend your days and nights doing it, then it's something you can't do for long. Depression sets in. Mental illness festers. And if the "abyss gaze" takes hold there's only one place to recover: Normal Head, in the wilds of Oregon, within the secure perimeter of an experimental forest.
When Adam Dearden, a foresight strategist, arrives at Normal Head, he is desperate to unplug and be immersed in sylvan silence. But then a patient goes missing from his locked bedroom, leaving nothing but a pile of insects in his wake. A staff investigation ensues; surveillance becomes total. As the mystery of the disappeared man unravels in Warren Ellis's Normal, Dearden uncovers a conspiracy that calls into question the core principles of how and why we think about the future—and the past, and the now.
The ebook edition also includes four conversations with Warren Ellis about Normal, featuring Robin Sloan, Laurie Penny, Geoff Manaugh, and Lauren Beukes. The conversations originally appeared on tor.com.
Adam Dearden, the hero of this fascinating near-future thriller from Ellis (Gun Machine), is one of the people monitoring an intricate worldwide surveillance system as part of an effort to save the world from a looming cataclysm that could bring financial ruin. When Adam suffers a breakdown while attending a conference in Rotterdam, he's taken to Normal Head, an asylum in Oregon. The next morning, awakened by loud banging, he leaves his room and sees orderlies in an uproar. Another inmate, Mr. Mansfield, is missing from his room, his bed covered with a couple hundred pounds of bugs. There's no evidence on the surveillance tapes of Mr. Mansfield leaving or being taken from his room, which was locked with its windows sealed. The institute is put into lockdown with all Internet connections severed. Though all inmates and staff are suspects, Adam, as the new arrival, is the primary one. Readers will root for Adam as he struggles to discover what is actually going on in Normal, who is to be trusted, and what happened to Mansfield.
Good book but a waste of money because it is way too short, and just ends ...