Nutshell: standard Z mess with immortals & incomprehensible occurrences.
Volume is sealed by a dedication to Delaney, and the text is reminiscent of [b:The Einstein Intersection|145354|The Einstein Intersection|Samuel R. Delany|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328795577s/145354.jpg|2006203].
Concerned with the Heliopolitan Ennead: Isis, Osiris & their son Horus; Set & Nephthys; Anubis (offspring of Osiris & Nephthys), and Thoth (son of Set in some variants). Greek Typhon shows up; in Kemetic, Typhon is equated to Seth, but here Typhon is Apophis, possessing qualities of the Abyss (155). Some other immortals show up, but I can’t place them in the mythology, including a lovecraftian Thing that Should Not Be (or something like that). (Norns appear, as well as Cerberus, so it’s a mix of all comers paganism.)
Form is unstable: verse, prose, play script. Mode is unstable: some items are horatian satire, some high mythic, some realism.
Narrative opens with Anubis placing Set (who has retrograde amnesia) into a “body-cutting machine” (18) to replace his limbs and whatnot in what is a scene of extremely effective visceral horror. Revealed that Set is a master of “temporal fugue,” and can “make time follow the mind” (26).
Steel General, rides Sleipnir (42), has a metal body, is “a kind of negative Orpheus and men follow him to Hell,” and “one of the very few masters of temporal fugue” (43). Noted that both Horus and Osiris had independently destroyed the Steel General in the past (56). I can’t place this guy in kemetic, either, though there’s a Greek analogue in Talus, maybe. More than likely this is the apotheosis of Uncle Joe Stalin, the Man of Steel, as the spirit of Revolution: “Out of the pages of history come the thundering hoof beats of his war horse Bronze. He flew with Lafayette Escadrille. He fought in the delaying action at Jarama Valley. He helped to hold Stalingrad in the dead of winter. With a handful of friends, he tried to invade Cuba. On every battleground, he has left a portion of himself. He camped out with Washington when times were bad, until a greater General asked him to go away. He was beaten in Little Rock, had acid thrown in his face in Berkeley. He was put on the Attorney General’s list, because he had once been a member of the IWW” (76). But also: “he shot craps with Leon Trotsky, who taught him the writers are underpaid; he shared a boxcar with Woodie Guthrie, who him his music and that singers are underpaid; he supported Fidel Castro for a time, and learned that lawyers are underpaid” (77). So, yeah, very nice.
Great moment when one entrail reader reads the entrails of a rival entrail reader (83-84), and another when Steel General and Set have a temporal fugue duel (85-89) that basically destroys the planet on which the contest occurs. Beautiful section thereafter about machine sexuality (108-09).
Aside from these lucid intervals, though, no idea WTF happened.
Recommended for deviants from the social norm, readers who know that all wives be bitches to their lords, and interlocutors who ask their assailants to consider the possibility of having portions of themselves which might withstand the destruction of their bodies.