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Butler, Blake

Entry updated 13 November 2023. Tagged: Author.

(1979-    ) US editor and author, much of whose work might be approachable in horror frames (see Horror in SF), though it is frequently buttressed by sf agencies (see Fantastika). What may be his earliest work, not always traceable in its original published form, was assembled in Scorch Atlas: A Belated Primer (coll of linked stories 2009) as a series of interlinked visions of the possible varieties of Near Future Holocaust, a kaleidoscope through which the true nature of the End of the World is hard to determine, but perhaps possible. Comparisons with the tonus of David Lynch's Inland Empire (2006) have been suggested. More intimately, EVER (2009 chap) creates a surreal architectonic of the body as prison and/or a deeply uncertain housing (see Identity), a surrealist dissolution of any "normal" ontological security which is portrayed more broadly, through the wracking of an entire family, in There Is No Year (2011).

Sky Saw (2012), as deconstructive of consensual reality as its predecessors (see also Perception), broadens the echolalia perceived by selves whom the world has disjointed into a portrait of a Dystopian City as a carceral nightmare out of Piranesi. Perhaps even more claustrophobically, One (2012) describes a house and its central inmate via two texts composed by intimately competing authors. 300,000,000 (2014) is horror, seen through the eyes of a serial killer. A network of signals out of the self of the eponymous protagonist of Alice Knott (2020) – who is embedded in a world that has begun to punish her (see Crime and Punishment) through the destruction of works of art she has collected – generates a sense that the conversation of influences that subtend the tale includes authors like Thomas Pynchon; the video presentations of great works of art being totally ruined worldwide, despite clear indications of Satirical comment on a world obsessed by exploitative consumption rituals, is inescapably melancholy. Aannex (2022) represents an ambitious enlarging of the remit of Scorch Atlas: A Belated Primer, with similar derangements of the world here extended to something like the Far Future, where narratives of the dire history of the planet – partly Parodying sf topoi via surrealized Widescreen Baroque exercises in Space Opera, complexified by literal Time Travel (see also Time Opera) – portray a species out of control for longer than can readily be imagined. [JC]

Blake Butler

born Marietta, Georgia: 1 January 1979


  • There Is No Year (New York: Harper Perennial, 2011) [pb/Milan Bozic]
  • Anatomy Courses (Portland, Oregon: Lazy Fascist Press, 2012) with Sean Kilpatrick [pb/Matthew Revert]
  • Sky Saw (New York: Tyrant Books, 2012) [pb/]
  • One (New York: Roof Books, 2012) [pb/]
  • 300,000,000 (New York: Harper Perennial, 2014) [pb/Kris Tobiassen]
  • Alice Knott (New York: Riverhead Books, 2020) [hb/]
  • Aannex (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Apocalypse Partly, 2022) [pb/]

collections and stories

  • Scorch Atlas: A Belated Primer (Chicago, Illinois: Featherproof Books, 2009) [coll of linked stories: pb/]
  • EVER (Washington, District of Columbia: Calamari Press, 2009) [novella: chap: pb/]


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