The Tentacle Sessions Tentacle Session #22
Sunday, May 20, 2001

John Shirley
in "Mental Illness"

opening sound was by symplx

author John Shirley

John Shirley is an accomplished writer of fiction & screenplays. In 1998 he won the Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writers Association for Black Butterflies (re-released in paperback last year).  He has also had success as a screenwriter, most notably for delivering The Crow, bringing James O'Barr's comic book to film for the first time. John has also written episodes of Max Headroom, Poltergeist, and Deep Space Nine and made-for-TV movies for Fox and Showtime.

For his session, John looked at perceptions of madness, drawing from his fiction and from "real life". He took the Sessions audience to the windows of the asylum, to witness the life imposed on those who have been diagnosed as mentally ill. In this session we viewed madness and its edges--without prejudice, without romance, and without blinking.

John Shirley was an original member of the group of renegade science fiction writers who were dubbed cyberpunks for their obsessions with computer networks, virtual reality, mirrorshades & loud music. Shirley was an outspoken member of the group, which also included William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, in bringing a new edge to science fiction writing in the 1980's. At the same time he was lead singer for the bands Obsession and SadoNation, proving himself as punk as he was cyber.

Since then his writing has turned toward more dark and fantastic worlds, winning critical acclaim and accolades from horror fans and press. But he remains, as Interzone Magazine called him, a "genre outlaw", never fitting neatly into any genre-box; whether it be science fiction, psychological horror or dark fantasy, no label thrown at John Shirley's writing is safe for long. Musically he continues to write and record, as a lyricist for Blue Oyster Cult and as lead singer to his own band Panther Moderns.

In 2000 Shirley's late 80's trilogy A Song Called Youth was re-released in a new edition and his Bram Stoker Award-winning collection Black Butterflies (1998) available in a new paperback edition. Also, Stealth Press has made available "My Victim", an e-chapbook for free download from their website.

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