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John Shirley is one of the original "Dread Lords" of Cyberpunk who brought a new noir sensibility to SF and Fantasy in the nineties. Still associated with his literary compatriots Gibson, Rucker, and Sterling, Shirley has expanded his work into comics, film, TV, and music, bringing his legions of fans along with him.

John Shirley is the author of numerous books and many, many short stories. His novels include Bleak History, Crawlers, Demons, In Darkness Waiting, and seminal cyberpunk works City Come A-Walkin' as well as the A Song Called Youth trilogy of Eclipse, Eclipse Penumbra, and Eclipse Corona. His collections include the Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild award-winning Black Butterflies, Living Shadows: Stories New & Pre-owned, and In Extremis: The Most Extreme Short Stories of John Shirley. He also writes for screen (The Crow) and television. As a musician Shirley has fronted his own bands and written lyrics for Blue Öyster Cult and others.

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New Taboos
Author: John Shirley
Publisher: PM Press/Outspoken Authors
ISBN: 978-1-60486-761-9
Published: April 2013
Format: Paperback
Size: 7.5 by 5.5
Page count: 128 Pages
Subjects: Fiction, Science Fiction

Mixing outlaw humor, SF adventure, and cutting social criticism, Shirley draws upon his entire arsenal of narrative and commentary. The title essay, "New Taboos" is his prescription for a radical revisioning of America. A new novella, A State of Imprisonment, is a horrifying and grimly hilarious look at the privatization of the prison industry. "Why We Need Forty Years of Hell," Shirley's 2011 TEDx address, presents his proudly contrarian view of the near future.

Also featured is our always intimate Outspoken Interview, in which the author's most outrageous opinions and savage secrets are revealed.


"Astonishingly consistent and rigorously horrifying. All his stories give off the chill of top-grade horror.” —New York Times

"One of our best and most singular writers. A powerhouse of ideas and imagery." —William Gibson

"John Shirley achieves things that other writers wouldn't dare attempt. Brilliant. The true quill." —Bruce Sterling

"Shirley writes at the neon-lit frontier of sensory experience." —Publishers Weekly

"Readers who enjoy living a little dangerously are likely to appreciate the sheer, headlong exuberance of Shirley's imagination." —San Francisco Chronicle

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new taboosNew Taboos: A Review
by Luther Blissett
January 7th, 2017

Opening piece, “A State of Imprisonment,” sticks with you. Brutal without unnecessary graphic details. Kind of like a strong female lead in a politicized, short version of “Prison Break.”

Powerful narrative covers potential problems of privatized prisons. Storyline: female investigative reporter encounters a private corporate prison that comprises 80% of the State of Arizona. Engaging. Exquisitely written.

Title piece is non-fiction essay written several years ago where Shirley suggests new sets of taboos against social transgressions. Given Trump’s election, Shirley’s tone seems somewhat moderate. Would love to know what Shirley would write today. Short. Powerful. Worth reading.

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new taboosNew Taboos: A Review
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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new taboosNew Taboos: A Review
by Kurt Wilcken
Daily Kos
July 21st, 2013

New Taboos is part of the "Outspoken Authors" series published by PM Press, presenting material from some notable literary voices.  The book is a collection containing a novella, a couple essays and an interview with John Shirley.

"A  State of Imprisonment" is a novella which extrapolates the current trend toward privately-run, for-profit prisons to its logical conclusion.  It's set in the near future, where nearly the entire state of Arizona has been converted into a maximum security prison run by a large company.  (To be fair, only 80% of the state has been converted into the prison; the Grand Canyon, presumably, has been set aside for the tourists). 

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