I resolved to return to the Beyond and shed my humanity. I dreamt every night of the freedoms of a boundless country without conscience…
Once more we delve into the dark world of Cley, Physiognomist, First Class.
Cley has ventured into the eponymous wilderness of his strange world, in company with a tamed, intelligent, demon named Misrix.
Cley is searching for the “true Wenau”, and his lost victim and for a time, love, Arla Beaton.
Cley is a man who has witnessed miracles, and both he and his world have been changed by them. But remnants of his grim past still haunt the former Physiognomist, First Class.
The old Cley cannot be buried until he meets once more with a woman he gravely disfigured — who, in turn, served as catalyst to his transformation from man of “science” to folk healer to wilderness hunter — and she waits in the true village of Wenau in the hidden heart of the Beyond.
While Cley’s journeys, Misrix the demon has been cursed to be forever human.
Forever trapped within his weak, fleshy prison, Misrix must now deal with what it means to be both mortal and feeling.
He tells of his lonely life in the ruins of the Well-Built City, and the eventual discovery of him by the people of Wenau.
He befriends some of the residents in the city, but is feared and hated by others. Eventually he is accused of killing Cley, who has never returned from the Beyond. He yearns only to be treated as human, and only by submitting to justice and a trial can he maintain that status.
Meanwhile, Misrix narrates Cley’s adventures in the Beyond, which he “remembers” by use of the drug Beauty.
Cley continues on with his dog, Wood. He survives demon attacks, and a terrible winter, eventually discovering a cave and a mysterious dead person.
He wanders through other environments: a desert, an inland ocean, a strange mountain, everywhere encountering strange people, some human, others different: fish people, plant people, huge lizards.
He befriends a woman he finds in a besieged city, eventually settling with her in a lonely hut in the woods.
He has one more quest, however; to revitalize the dying Beyond…
Praise for Jeffrey Ford:
“Jeffrey Ford is a fascinatingly unconventional writer.” – Locus
“A modern allegory in the manner of Franz Kafka.” The New York Times
“Seriously, logically, stunningly surreal: a compact, richly-textured, enthralling fantasy debut.” Kirkus Review
Jeffrey Ford is an American author who writes fantasy, science fiction and mystery. His stories and novels have been translated into over 20 different languages worldwide. Ford has been a recipient of the Nebula Award, The Fountain Award, The Grand Prix de L’Imaginaire, The Edgar Allan Poe Award, and the World Fantasy Award. He lives in New Jersey, where he teaches Writing and Literature at Brookdale Community College. His other works with Venture Press include The Physiognomy and Memoranda.