Richard Calder‘s Frenzetta is a decadent fever dream of a novel. Set in a future where humanity is divided between the “pure” (reactionary straights) and the “perverse” (people who have been genetically re-engineered to include the animalistic in their nature; they include wolfmen, catgirls, insectmen, spiderwomen, among numerous others), the novel traces a delirious course through various scenarios of lust and catastrophe. The narrator, a zombie (seven-feet tall, supernaturally strong, but impotent, returned from the dead and remaining animate through a diet of fresh brains) and his beloved Frenzetta (a sneering 17-year-0ld punkette, half-rat, and fated to die in the throes of orgasm) wander through the continents of a decaying earth (in which former human technologies are gradually forgotten, due to the influence of the perverse, and the pigheadedness of the pure) searching for a deliverance – both sexual and existential – that they are unable to define. The novel’s philosophical reflections on the nature of desire are given with a light touch, never overshadowing the novel’s delirious, overwrought prose. All in all, the novel is sort of pop Bataille, a melancholy underwriting its numerous titillations, with an overwhelming awareness of the fatal clash of sex and death, but also a sense of futility and decay suggesting the unattainability of the ideal, even of self-annihilation.

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