MERMAID [mur-meyd] noun -- a rare species of fish evolved to resemble the appearance of a woman in order to attract male human prey.
Mermaids are protected by the government under the Endangered Species Act, which means you aren't able to kill them even in self-defense. This is especially problematic if you happen to live in the isolated fishing village of Siren Cove, where there exists a healthy population of mermaids in the surrounding waters that view you as the main source of protein in their diet.
The only thing keeping these ravenous sea women at bay is the equally-dangerous supply of human livestock known as Food People. Normally, these "feeder humans" are enough to keep the mermaid population happy and well-fed. But in Siren Cove, the mermaids are avoiding the human livestock and have returned to hunting the frightened local fishermen. It is up to Doctor Black, an eccentric representative of the Food People Corporation, to investigate the matter and hopefully find a way to correct the mermaids' new eating patterns before the remaining villagers end up as fish food. But the more he digs, the more he discovers there are far stranger and more dangerous things than mermaids hidden in this ancient village by the sea.
Like a Lovecraftian version of David Lynch's Twin Peaks, Village of the Mermaids is a dystopian mystery that proves once again how cult author Carlton Mellick III brings the weird to a whole new level.
Erebus Elysium's ReviewEdit
TRIGGER WARNING: LOTS OF SPOILERS AHEAD. DETAILS HAVE BEEN OMITTED FOR THOSE WHO DECIDE TO READ THE BOOK. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.
The mermaids are a species of "mimics", or monstrous animals that have evolved to look very similar to humans as a means to hunt them, like how the Candy people having evolved candy physiologies to hunt children easier in Cannibals in Candyland. There is mention of other mimics out there like Nagas and Arachne's, but it is implied that the mimics less evolve and more mutate of their own will, as the variety of mermaids that appear in Siren Cove have appeared without anybody knowing about it until it was too late. Of course this can't really be blamed on humanity for this serious biological faux pas in general, since the ESS made it so that not even Documentary filmmakers to go anywhere near them.
Carlton, among many things, is known for displaying his ideals on his sleeve in his novels, demonizing and exaggerating conservative ideals and corporate control. The guy lives in Portland for godsake! Hipster Capital of America! What makes this novel so strange however is that it demonizes government policies that would lean towards more liberal thinking than conservative. This is displayed best in the ESS - the Endangered Species Security, an environmentally conscious organization that has dedicated themselves to protecting mimics through international law. The ESS has no soul, for it is a corporation. It is stated multiple times that they hold the lives of the mimics over humans, treating humanity as animals that don't require protection. Should a person so much as touch a mermaid, the laws the ESS have in place will have the perpetrator either killed on the spot or be sent to their laboratories to be made into Merchow, or "Food people", people that are mutated and mentally condition into a cattle-like edible species.
Should you be on death row, you'll be turned into a food person. You can volunteer to be a food person too if you want. These Food People can reproduce, creating more food people, and can even reproduce with humans to create half-human food people. For some stupid reason, the some Food People can emit spores that turn humans into food people in a matter of seconds. It's apparently an unforeseen side effect. They don't explain that part very well.
While politicians nowadays are not exactly the most humanitarian, there is no way in Hell or any other afterlife that such an international standard would ever be placed or even considered by anyone other than other than the fringe-environmentalist "Poison Ivy's" of the world (or people like Rick Wiles... topical joke), making it harder for the reader to suspend their disbelief on the matter.
Then again, the book certainly does not portray them as in the right, as the ESS's anti-human policies are what ultimately leads to Siren Cove's destruction. The policies make it so that one could not simply research the mermaids legally, the protagonist being both terminally ill as well as working for the ESS, which has caused the ESS to underestimate the biology of the mermaid's reproductive habits, as well as how they behave. They breed the Food People in order to keep them from attacking humans, but the mermaids are too smart for that and ignore the food people. The mermaids mutate and adapt far too quickly for the citizens to be able to avoid the mermaids - allowing them to travel on land and even sink metal boats - and they begin to populate at a much faster rate. They clearly are not as endangered as anticipated, but the ESS obviously does not care, and it ultimately ends in the destruction of both the village and everyone else around them. That and the Food People spore-thing. Seriously, what is up with that?
The main character Doctor Black is a scientist that works for the same company that is responsible for making Food People, and it shows. The guy is an emotionally dead rock of a human being, and while he isn't cruel like the ESS, he is far from being any sort of teddy bear. The book's prologue is completely dedicated to him telling his daughter that her mother died in a car accident earlier that day and that she will never see him again shortly there after. He has her whole life planned out for her on a calendar like all of those little tender moments between parent and child (marriage speeches, tuition money, birthday presents, "the talk") are just a calculated series of factors that will produce a functioning member of society. That isn't to say that he is unlikable or anything. There is a sort of darkly humorous charm to how he behaves. Like I said, he isn't cruel, but he just isn't the sentimental type. He has an inflatable "hugging daddy" for his daughter to be with whenever she needs a hug, so you know the guy has some issues.
Remember when I said that he was leaving his daughter's life forever? Well that is because he was dying. Doctor Black contracted a fatal disease that exists in this world known as "Zimmer's Disease". This is that kind of sci-fi disease that one would find rather funny, as it slowly turns your entire body into living silly putty. It turns your skin and flesh into an incredibly malleable clay-like substance and can be a real headache when around somebody makes physical contact with you.
All in all, this book is fun, but I'd certainly call it a mixed bag.
I'm giving it a 3.5 Human/Merchow Babies out of 5.