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Palahniuk, Chuck

Entry updated 16 January 2023. Tagged: Author.

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Working name of Charles Michael Palahniuk (1962-    ), US author of transgressive fiction and Satire, some of whose works apply genre devices disruptive to the mundane modern world in which they are ostensibly set (see Equipoise). A graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism, Palahniuk found success with Fight Club: A Novel (1996), one of several works lampooning Religion and cults. Although its hints of a Near Future setting do not quite make it sf, its protagonist espouses the destruction of Western civilization, presented in the film adaptation Fight Club (1999), directed by David Fincher, as an idealistic vision of the future seemingly inspired by Survivalist Fiction.

Much of Palahniuk's work in the first decade of the twenty-first century dealt with Horror and Taboos, with occasional glimpses of sf inspiration. In particular, Lullaby: A Novel (2002) posits an ancient African "culling song" that spreads through the American populace and causes mass infant deaths (see Basilisks). Haunted: A Novel of Stories (coll of linked stories 2005), which is told within a Club Story frame, features several short genre experiments, including "Obsolete", in which a cult comes to believe that mass Suicide can transport mankind to a Utopia on Venus, and "Dissertation: A Story by the Missing Link", which updates ancient legends of Werewolves. Palahniuk revisited the latter in Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey (2007), a prolonged meditation on Time Travel and Immortality, set in a Near Future in which Overpopulation has forced the division of the American population into day- and night-shifts. The Madison sequence comprising Damned (2011) and Doomed (2013) features a young ghost with attitude. Adjustment Day (2018) is set in a very Near Future America where plans are afoot to cull the current glut of testosterone-fuelled young men through the creation of a fake war, but a revolution balkanizes the great land empire into states defined in terms of race (see Race in SF). [JonC]

Charles Michael Palahniuk

born Pasco, Washington: 21 February 1962

works (selected)



  • Damned (New York: Random House, 2011) [Madison: hb/uncredited]
  • Doomed (New York: Doubleday, 2013) [Madison: hb/Matt Buck]

individual titles



works as editor


previous versions of this entry

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