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February 2003
 
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An East Wind Coming by Arthur Byron Cover (1979)

In 1979, I was thirteen years old. I'd just recently been bitten by the Sherlock Holmes bug. On one of my weekly book-gathering trips downtown, when I asked a bookshop clerk where I could find the Holmes books, I was handed Arthur Byron Cover's An East Wind Coming.

The cover of this Berkley paperback was garish and lurid: a sexy woman lying in a splatter of blood and displayed to show off her cleavage. The futuristic cityscape and the Holmes head in the background helped me overcome my naive embarrassment, as did blurbs such as "in the golden city of the gods, the legends live."

An East Wind Coming is a decadent smorgasbord oozing sex and nihilism, peppered with the thrills of various pulp fictions and comic-book universes. In a far future the iconic characters of nineteenth- and twentieth-century pop culture have been reborn, all of them referring to themselves coyly as "the consulting detective," "the good doctor," "the Big Red Cheese," etc. Imagine Moorcock's Dancers at the End of Time reinvented by a chimera of Kim Newman, Philip José Farmer, and Belgian nihilist surrealist Jacques Sternberg, and you'll get an idea of the strange atmosphere of this dense and mindwarping novel.

An East Wind Coming shares the same setting as the author's excellent 1975 debut, Autumn Angels, but outperforms it in scope, nihilistic perversity, gaudy invention, and genrebending glee. Cosmic concepts, depressing sex, horrific crimes, and pulp heroes . . . what more could you want?

—Claude Lalumière

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