Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A guest blog by Jeffrey Thomas

! BLUE WAR! DEADSTOCK! And many more....... Jeff Thomas is one of weird fiction's best! And today Jeff has kindly stopped by to offer some of his thoughts on my new novel . . . So away we go~ ~~

THE ORPHAN PALACE, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.

by Jeffrey Thomas



     In Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.’s THE ORPHAN PALACE (henceforth, for ease, JSPS and TOP respectively), as a young man our protagonist Cardigan escapes from a sinister orphanage called Zimms, where an evil psychiatrist named Dr. Archer subjects his charges to various forms of torture, abetted by his equally loathsome staff. In Dickens’ OLIVER TWIST, having himself survived a horrible orphanage/workhouse, the sweet and innocent Oliver proves a shining example of the imperviousness of the human soul. Whereas Cardigan wants bloody revenge, and will walk right through the hole he shoots through you to get to it, if you stand in his way.

So what does that teach us? Well, both books teach us the truth, really. We all walk through fires. They all scar us. But how we as individuals react to the same trials might be very different indeed.
     So TOP teaches us the truth. It is a realistic novel, then, correct?

Mm, yes. It is an abstractly realistic novel.

Are there really sinister orphanages, in which children are physically and psychologically tormented? Nowadays, I wouldn’t think so. In our country’s past, yes, I would imagine there were, and sanitariums where the treatment was even worse. But it’s not JSPS’s point to expose today’s evil practices. At least, not in such a literal sense. The titular Orphan Palace, Zimms, could serve as a metaphor for how we are shaped as human beings in general -- whether that Orphan Palace be as small as our own home, or as large as the USA. As large as this whole world of human beings. The Orphan Palace is the forge of all human life. Whether we are truly orphans or even if we have loving parents, ultimately we walk out its doors to fend for ourselves in a world that might not be literally populated with the novel’s ghouls and evil cultists, but the threatening forces those entities stand in for. Beyond counting, there are malignant people in positions of power, whether they be hateful little administrative types or world leaders, for whom we could consider Dr. Archer a symbolic mask.

So for me, JSPS’s novel possesses at the same time a very realistic feel -- an uncomfortably realistic feel -- and a fantastical, dream-like, hallucinatory quality. And that’s quite an achievement. This is art, my friend. Art can do tricky stuff like that.

You can find Jeff and his work here:


  1. Excellent overview and insights Jeffery. I've not read the book yet but I like the analogy with Oliver. Two paths one truth.
    I've often said, in conversation about opinions, that the definition of fun between a priest and a serial killer are quite different, but the fact that they both like ice cream lies the truth.

  2. Jeff will be doing an in-depth review for LORE soon.