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Tour: 133. Bleak History by John Shirley...

August 18, 2009
Today's tour feature is John Shirley's Bleak History...

About the book:

Subject: Gabriel Bleak. Status: Civilian. Paranormal skills: Powerful. Able to manipulate AS energies and communicate with UBEs (e.g. "ghosts" and other entities). Psychological profile: Extremely independent, potentially dangerous. Caution is urged...

As far as Gabriel Bleak is concerned, talking to the dead is just another way of making a living. It gives him the competitive edge to survive as a bounty hunter, or "skip tracer," in the psychic minefield known as New York City. Unfortunately, his gift also makes him a prime target. A top-secret division of Homeland Security has been monitoring the recent emergence of human supernaturals, with Gabriel Bleak being the strongest on record. If they control Gabriel, they'll gain access to the Hidden — the entity-based energy field that connects all life on Earth. But Gabriel's got other ideas. With a growing underground movement called the Shadow Community — and an uneasy alliance of spirits, elementals, and other beings — Gabriel's about to face the greatest demonic uprising since the Dark Ages. But this time, history is not going to repeat itself. This time, the future is Bleak. Gabriel Bleak.

About the author:
John Shirley is the author of numerous books and many, many short stories. His novels include Crawlers, Demons, In Darkness Waiting, and seminal cyberpunk works City Come A-Walkin', and 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 and Living Shadows: Stories: New & Pre-owned. 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. He can be found online on his blog,

drey's thoughts:
I was really interested in reading Bleak History because I wondered, what would the government do if it could "study" those with supernatural abilities? Would it be something like the X-Files, with it's conspiracy theories and secret labs? Well... In John Shirley's world, yes. The government agency is the CCA--Homeland Security's Central Containment Authority. *shudder* I wouldn't want anything to do with anything with "containment" in its name! And they're looking to round up or shut down the paranormals. Why? Because they're afraid, of course. After all, you can't have people running loose in the normal population when they can do things, can you?

I liked Gabriel Bleak's character. Maybe it's the t-shirts he wears (although, where's the rock band "stuff" on the cover?). Maybe it's because even though he doesn't trust the government within an inch of his life (heck, I'd keep them at least 10 football fields away if I were him), he still tries to negotiate a compromise with them because that's the better path for him and those like him.

However, some of the other characters were a little overblown, I think. Shoella seems a little "off" to me, to be that interested in Gabriel--almost like John Shirley tried too hard to come up with a character already in the story who would fit the "lover & betrayer" role, instead of needing to add one. And Loraine is almost the stereotypical government-agent-turned-sympathizer who has doubts about her job but does what she's told anyway because they (the CCA) couldn't be that bad, could they?

The action is fast here. The bad guys are everywhere Gabriel turns, and they aren't above using local law enforcement to assist in Gabriel's location and detention. So who can he trust? Guess you'll have to read & find out. *grin* I did like Bleak History, but I'm thinking I'd probably prefer the screen version--lots of explosions to ooh and aah at...

Thanks to Pocket Books, I have 2 copies of Bleak History for you, but ONLY if you live in the US...
-- Contest is open to US residents only, no PO Boxes please!
-- To enter, comment and share: Would you want to have supernatural powers? If so, what? I probably wouldn't. Sure, it could be cool. But I already have enough things to do in a day... *grin*
-- Follow for 1 extra entry.
-- Share for 2 extra entries (let me know what & where, please).
-- Do it all before 6:00 pm CST August 31st. Good luck!

Title: Bleak History
Author: John Shirley
ISBN-10: 1416584129
ISBN-13: 978-1416584124
Paperback: 370 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2009

Tour stops:
I Heart Monster
Debbie’s World of Books
Sci-Fi Guy
A Journey of Books
Simply Vamptastic
Starting Fresh
Booksie’s Blog
Falling Off The Shelf
Patricia’s Vampire Notes
My Friend Amy
Reading With Monie
Cheryl’s Book Nook
Morbid Romantic
drey’s library
Temple Library Reviews
Jeanne’s Ramblings
Never Not Reading
My Guilty Pleasures
Fantasy Freak


Karen H said...

Please enter me in the drawing for a copy of this book.

+1 I am a current follower

kkhaas AT bellsouth DOT net

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I would take supernatural powers! Mostly, I'd like enhancements of the senses - like being able to hear across great distances and see through stuff. (Maybe I could get a job in airport security with that seeing ability.)

Please enter me!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I follow your blog on Google Reader.

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Sue said...

Looks very interesting. Thanks for the giveaway.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Carol M said...

No supernatural powers for me! It's too much responsibility and I don't think I could handle it!

I'm a follower.

Carol M
mittens0831 AT

Unknown said...

I definitely wouldn't want super powers. I worry too much now, I can't imagine worrying about whether I was using my powers correctly.

I am also a follower :)


clenna said...

I would love to teletransport - like break down my molecules and then appear wherever i would like to appear.

Kat Bryan said...

No supernatural powers for me. The gov't probably DOES have some sort of containment group.

I'm a follower.

winterset AT

Harry Markov said...

Hey Drey. :) I love your thoughts and I think this is a really comprehensive review, but you might want to double check the character's name: it's Lorraine and not Louisa.

You can delete this, if you want.

drey said...

Oh, THANK YOU for pointing that out, Harry! I must've retained Louisa from another book... It's fixed now. Thanks again!

Sara M said...

I would definitely want superpowers. I'd either want to have the ability to become invisible or have telekinetic powers.

+1 follower

donnas said...

Please include me.

I dont know if I want a supernatural power but if I had to have one I would want to teleport.

I am already a follower.

Posted to the sidebar here:

bacchus76 at myself dot com

budletsmom said...

Not sure so many powers would be cool to have flying, becoming invisible - teleporting would be amazing -

I am a follower.

budletsmom at yahoo dot com

ColleenFL said...

Yeah, I'd want a superpower. Teleport to avoid all the traffic, superspeed and superb vision sound pretty good too.

+1 I'm a follower

lingeorge said...

I always thought that having supernatural powers would be great. I have visions of throwing Levin Bolts at my arch enemies. But in reality, such things are truly fantasy.

I follow.

lag123 said...

No, I would not like to have any supernatural powers.

lag123 said...

I am a new follower

Shawna L. said...

Shawna Lewis

I would have the power to heal all sickness!!!

I follow your blog ;o)

Shawna L. said...

Shawna Lewis

I shared on Facebook & Twittter

Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Wrighty said...

Great review! I'm with you on the superpowers, I've got enough to do already! I do want to be Super Mom but that isn't magic just a lot of hard work! :) Thanks for your giveaway and please include me.

I follow.


ossmcalc said...

Please enter me into this drawing.

I would like to have the power to heal, but then I would have to make the decision as to who would receive these powers. That is not a decision for me to make.

Thank you,


ossmcalc said...

I follow.

thank you,


ossmcalc said...

I shared on Facebook under Christine Womack.

Thank you,


ossmcalc said...

I tweeted

Thank you,


M.A.D. said...

Mary D
zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

Hey Drey ~ I am so drooling to win Bleak History, WOW does it sound good :)

and yes, I'd love supernatural powers - the Power to Heal because I am such a softy lol

M.A.D. said...

Mary D
zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

And I just signed up to Follow :)

Anonymous said...

I'd love to have a supernatural power.-Maybe seeing into someone's thoughts, maybe healing the sick, maybe transporting in time.


Libby's Library said...

Yeah - I'd like some super powers. I'd like to be able to make my groceries magically appear in my fridge and pantry... meals magically appear on my dining table... and the dishes and kitchen magically cleaned after we eat!

+1 I'm already a follower.

Thanks for the giveaway.


bettycd said...

supernatural - no thanks. Natural powers are hard enough to keep in respectable working order as the years go by. It's bothersome enough when you hit that age that bifocals become a reality. Can you imagine how it would feel to hit a certain age and not be able to see thru walls? or when speeding bullets start passing you? Please enter in the drawing

bettycd said...

following thru google

bettycd said...


Unknown said...

I've got enough trouble yielding my natural powers... having supernatural ones would be way too much - as busy as I am being Mom Superpower ;-) aitmama {at} gmail{dot} com

Unknown said...


Unknown said...

Unknown said...

Sheila Deeth said...

I'm following, belatedly. This sounds good.

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