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Nick Mamatas

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Nick Mamatas is the author of three novels, including the Lovecraftian Beat road novel Move Under Ground, and Under My Roof, a novel of neighborhood nuclear supremacy. With Brian Keene he wrote The Damned Highway and with Ellen Datlow edited the anthology Haunted Legends. His how-to pamphlet on writing, Starve Better, was released in March 2010.

Nick has also published over seventy short stories and hundreds of articles. His short fiction has appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, Mississippi Review Online, subTERRAIN, Hint Fiction, Supernatural Noir and other venues, and a number of his stories were collected in the book You Might Sleep . . . His reportage and essays have appeared in the Village Voice, The Smart Set, Clamor, In These Times, the books You Are Being Lied To and Everything You Know is Wrong, H+, Poets & Writers, The Writer and many many other places.

He was born in New York and now lives in California with a woman named Olivia and a dog named Kazzie.

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Author: Nick Mamatas
Publisher: PM Press (Spectacular Fiction Series)
ISBN: 978-1-60486-354-3
Published May 2011
Format: Paperback
Size: 8 by 5
Length: 208 Pages
Subjects: Science Fiction

Love. Politics. Parasitic manipulation. Julia Hernandez left her husband, shot a real-estate developer out to gentrify Brooklyn, and then vanished without a trace. Well, perhaps one or two traces were left... With different personal and consumption habits, Julia has slipped out of the world she knew and into the Simulacrum—a place between the cracks of our existence from which human history is both guided and thwarted by the conflict between a species of anarchist wasp and a collective of hyperintelligent spider. When Julia's ex-husband Raymond spots her in a grocery store he doesn't usually patronize, he's drawn into an underworld of radical political gestures and Internet organizing looking to overthrow a ruling class it knows nothing about—and Julia is the new media sensation of both this world and the Simulacrum.

Told ultimately from the collective point of view of another species, Sensation plays with the elements of the Simulacrum we all already live in: media reports, businessspeak, blog entries, text messages, psychological evaluation forms, and the always fraught and kindly lies lovers tell one another.


“Nick Mamatas continues his reign as the sharpest, funniest, most insightful and political purveyor of post-pulp pleasures going. He is the People's Commissar of Awesome.”—China Miéville, award-winning author of Kraken and The City and the City

"Nick Mamatas’ brilliant comic novel, Sensation, reads like an incantation that both vilifies and celebrates the complex absurdity of the modern world."—Lucius Shepard, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards.

"The Majestic Plural, or Royal We, is well known—Sensation introduces the Arachnid Plural, the we of spiders, the ones that live inside you. The spiders care about you—deeply—and want to use you in a millennial war against certain parasitic wasps. No, I was wrong. The spiders only want to help. So let them in."—Zachary Mason, the New York Times best-selling author of The Lost Books of the Odyssey

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  • A SENSATION playlist
    Two weeks ago I was asked by the nice litblog Largehearted Boy to compile a "playlist" of songs for my novel SENSATION. This list is more for the sort of thing you should listen to while reading the novel, not what I was listening to while writing it.
  • All Power To the Imagination...Again.
    Here's a game I like to play with my students in the writing classes I teach. "Without contemplating it, without thinking hard, just say the word your tongue forms," I tell them.

Sensation: A Review
by Nathaniel Tapley
Interzone 239
April 2012

You should read Sensation now. I'm not kidding. Right now. Stop reading this, start reading Sensation. Anyone still her for this sentence has failed themselves.

Nick Mamata's novel is a razor-sharp look at the modern world. It's bafflingly current and important. It's as if he foresaw the Occupy movement before the first tents went up. The lack of stated aims, the surplus of enthusiasm, and the taste for dramatic public statements exploited through social media are all there. As I read the book in early December of 2011, it was clear that Mamatas has a firm grasp of the modern world. Around its throat.

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Sensation: A Review
by J. L. Comeau
The Tomb of Dark Deights

I enjoy weird fiction, and I must say that Sensation is one of the weirdest, funniest, flat-out strangest novels I’ve read since Thomas Pynchon last published. Although the narrative belongs to a hyper-intelligent species of spiders that have been waging a millennial war against a mutant species of anarchist wasps, this novel skewers current American pop culture, cyber culture and politics in a most humorous way. Julia Hernandez flees her marriage and shoots dead a Brooklyn real estate mogul before slipping out of this reality and into another called the Simulacrum, a place that exists just beyond our detection, where intelligent spiders and wasps battle to control human history. The missing Julia is being sought via an onslaught of media coverage when Julia’s ex-husband spots his former wife, following her into the strange Simulacrum otherworld where Julia has become media phenomenon as well. He discovers that it is by insidious parasitization that Julia and the entire human race are being manipulated and controlled. However, The Butterfly Effect reigns, making any semblance of order or control of impulsive creatures such as humans impossible. Sensation is as sobering as it is amusing, revealing our foolishness, folly and self-absorption. How we--a collection of weird little creatures clinging to a rock flying through space--have come to take ourselves so seriously turns out to be very funny indeed in the hands of Mr. Mamatas. For more information about the author, you will find his website at

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Sensation: A Review
Klausner's Bookshelf
Midwest Book Review
February 2012

Sensation is an entertaining modern day parable that looks at the accumulative stress of minor annoyances in a world in which the individual has no wiggle room alternative. Told by the spiders, Nick Mamatas looks at the Butterfly Effect of chaos in an absolute controlled environment that makes independent thought that breaks away from one's profile impossible.

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Sensation: A Review
Writers Cast
July 21, 2011

Nick Mamatas is an incredibly inventive writer.  Sensation combines comedy, inter-species communication, fantastic imagination, social and political critique into a fast moving, tightly plotted and very unusual storyline.  By combining a science fiction bent with a hyper-real portrayal of modern digitally connected culture, Mamatas is able to play with all the elements of modern everyday life, so we see things differently, perhaps even more clearly.

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Sensation: A Review
By John H. Stevens 
SF Signal
June 14, 2011

PROS: Funny, perceptive, disorienting writing; entertaining and thought-provoking; well-rendered characters are strongly realized within an unreliable narrative .
CONS: A few confusing moments towards the end, and an occasional conundrum arises about how the narrators know what they know.
BOTTOM LINE: Read this book; it will make you laugh, worry, and wonder about human nature and our often insane society.

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Sensation: A Review
July 2011

Nick Mamatas’s new novel Sensation is a dark satire featuring a cool SFnal premise that is actually just a metaphor for the way things really are, if only we weren’t, by and large, too dumb to see it. But luckily we’ve got Mamatas to point it all out for us, which he does with scathing – if sometimes obvious – wit and gleefully misanthropic snark. The book is as grimly antic as anything by Vonnegut, yet more bitter, and as paranoiac as anything by Dick, though less hopeful. That’s Mamatas for you: he makes Vonnegut look warm and fuzzy, and Dick look like a cockeyed optimist.

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Sensation: A Review
By Lily Hoang 
HTML Giant
July 2011

The title is not misleading. Everything in this book is sensational, in the best way. Reading Mamatas’s book, I was reminded of Cesar Aira, but unlike Aira, who often employs unlikely deus ex machina, Mamatas sustains his god-machines through the entire course of the novel. Every page brings about a scenario that is even more unlikely and unpredictable than the page before, and yet, I was sold. He transported me into his simulacra, and I was fine with it. I welcomed it.

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Sensation: A Review
Publisher's Weekly
June 20, 2011

Mamatas (Under My Roof) appears to be more interested in reasserting the primacy of Joyce, Pynchon, and Coover than establishing the voice of Mamatas in his self-consciously po-mo third novel. This accumulation of pop-culture babble, layered with thin insight and metatextual archness, is amusing enough in an epigrammatic way, but there's little attempt to communicate beyond the level of the individual sentences. There is Julia, the wife who walks out, unknowingly incubating wasp eggs in her arm. There is Raymond, the distraught husband who formulates a theory of penis panic to explain his wife's departure. And there are spiders, aka "a man of indeterminate ethnicity," a Borg-like "we" who narrate what ensues. The endless catalogue of modern annoyances, from attention-hogging real estate developers to Indian call-center workers, makes this novel not so much timely as instantly obsolete. (Aug.)

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Sensation: A Review
May 2011

Sensation by Nick Mamatas is a political satire and a meditation on the nature of reality reminiscent of Philip K. Dick, exploring the secret history of an age-old war between a hive-mind of hyperintelligent spiders and their implacable mindless enemies, a species of parasitic wasp. (The entirety of human history is either driven by that war or incidental to it.)

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Sensation: Acerbic novel about pop culture and popular madness as functions of parasitic manipulation
May 30, 2011

Mamatas is a powerfully acerbic writer, both in fiction and online. His acid wit is infamous, and it is on splendid display in Sensation, which is alive with scornful insight about pop culture, the net, and politics. Sensation is a kind of bastard love-child of GG Allin and Kurt Vonnegut, a science fiction story that is funny but always discomfiting. I recommend it highly.

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