Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Bridge

Twenty years ago Craig Spector and John Skipp got together and bashed out "The Bridge." It still feels razor sharp and acid fresh to this very day.

It's a doomsday story. In the general there's nothing new here. Toxic waste, blah blah blah. Accident, blah blah blah. A ragtag assortment of the townsfolk who must face the terror, the horror, the mystery, that is... the BRIDGE blah blah blahida blah. Luckily for us Craig and John take this boilerplate and forge a literary sword.

The first good thing they do, or the last actually is that EVERYBODY DIES. There you go folks, that's your spoiler. Before you touch this book know that EVERYBODY DIES. This is a doomsday novel where there is an actual doomsday. Now you might rightly wonder why read a book when you know everyone is a goner. Well, the short answer is that there are worse things than death. A lot of the characters are going to through as Bowie would say, "cha-cha-changes."

The next thing I like is the nature of the threat. Toxic waste might have been the cause, and even forms a continuing theme, but what came out from under the bridge is a very different beastie indeed. It is not so much as a monster or even a group of monsters but a radical change in the rules of the universe. A second genesis. In short form, in a universe where once there was but life or death there is now a third option. How can you fight a change in the very way the universe can operate? It makes one yearn for fighting Godzilla, that is easy by comparison.

This all nice and all but it wouldn't make for a great book without great writing. I never understand how two people can write one book, but these two manage it with style. They were of movement known as "Splatterpunks," and the movement was known for a fast and loose style and of course lots of violence. Craig and John write almost like it is a comedy, a farce, which is sometimes the best way to write a tragedy. No one is spared from some sharp observations. As far as they are concerned every one is responsible from the evil local industrialist polluting prick (trade mark pending), to the terribly nice lady who thinks eating vegan will save the world.

By the way, it didn't.

So, 20 years young is the Bridge. It is still relevant. It is still very much a joy to read. It's a downer of a story that leaves you darkly exhilarated by the end.  Definitely read it. 

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