New Taboos: A Publishers Weekly Review

New Taboos

Publishers Weekly
October 2013

Lyricist and “Dread Lord” of cyberpunk Shirley (A Song Called Youth) releases a full-throated howl about the twinned perils of corporate hegemony and citizen apathy. The latest in PM’s Outspoken Authors series matches up an original novella, “A State of Imprisonment,” with two essays and an interview conducted by Terry Bisson. The novella follows desperate reporter Faye Adullah inside the walls of a near-future Arizona that’s been turned into a titanic private prison. Darkly humorous and deeply unsettling, the novella saves its real sting for the denouement. The title essay, on the other hand, is a too-earnest rumination on trying to rein in corporate malfeasance through reviving the concept of taboo, uneasily paired with a transcription of a grim TEDx talk. The long, wide-ranging, and insightful interview that closes the book is far more hopeful than the other material, providing context for Shirley’s political views as well as a useful guide to his career and approach. Brief but potent, the book is a treat for Shirley fans, and a reasonable starting point for newcomers.

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