Pandemonium

Pandemonium - Daryl Gregory This book is deeply weird--and I thought absolutely amazing. Did I say weird? This is set in an alternate universe where demonic possession has been wrecking havoc since the 1940s. There are certain "strains" or archetypes that keep showing up. Like the "Captain"--a berserking solider of superhuman strength. Or "Truth"--a man in a fedora weidling two guns that, for instance, gunned down O.J. Simpson after the verdict of not guilty. Or the "Kamikaze" who assassinated President Eisenhower. The first person narrator of this story, Del, was possessed as a child by the "Hellion"--a Denis the Menace character. And he's beginning to suspect the demon never really left. By page 50, when he tells us he's looking for an exorcist I was absolutely hooked. About half way in, I guessed--or maybe the best word given the author played fair--realized the main twist. And it's one of those Sixth Sense type ones that so works--and it's not the last twist in the tale. I loved this. It was a wacky mix of science fiction and fantasy--even gives a winking nod to that. One of the characters is science fiction writer Philip Dick and his demon Valis. There's allusions here to Van Voght, Star Trek, Lovecraft. It's playful, imaginative, well-written, and on top of all that gave me characters to care about--particularly Del's family. And well, that love is important to the story. So is the title. I only recently read Milton's Paradise Lost. As it happens Milton coined the word "pandemonium" to name the capital of Hell. While the word "demon" derives from the Greek word for benign demigods. That's never stated in the book, but it's certainly not coincidental. I loved how everything fit together.