“... a new talent of truly deranged proportions ...”
--Christopher Fowler, author of Full Dark House and Ten-Second Staircase.
"Hill has written an astute thriller, focused on religions and cults and the way they've been used to master civilizations. But Nowhere-Land is also about the very new cults of Internet game playing, and how role-playing games move from the Web to the real world, to more chaotic fictions that can spawn terror when dark minds gain control. In Nowhere-Land, the world feels like it's in a pre-Apocalyptic state: There's a war on for its soul. It may be the first truly 21st-century mystery I've read. It feels new, radical, in the way that the movie Blade Runner felt new. Stephan Raszer is the thinking man's private eye."
Judith Freeman, author of The Long Embrace, Raymond Chandler and the Women He Loved, writing in L.A. Weekly
A.W. Hill lives somewhere between Hollywood, Nashville, Bulgaria and Alpha Centauri. He has felt a lifelong antipathy toward secret societies, but concedes that this may stem at least partly from the fact that not one of them has ever offered him membership.
Nowhere-Land is the mystical experience, novelized; it is belief, faith and spirituality, described. It’s the visions of Hildegard of Bingen wrapped up in a mystery like an evangelical egg roll. Points in the novel are reminiscent of Plato’s allegory of the cave, surreal moments where the reader emerges from the shadowy confusion of the cave to behold the light and truth outside. While disorienting at first, it’s also extremely rewarding. Forget about putting it neatly in some genre; it’s far beyond genre. It’s like nothing you’ve ever read before, probably like nothing you’ve even imagined before, singular and refreshingly unique. And completely unforgettable.
--Paul Stotts, Blood of the Muse
ON NOWHERE-LAND: The P.I. protagonist, Stephan Raszer, is part skeptic, part Hollywood Hills mystic, a dreamer pulling dreamers back from beyond the edge, as evolved as a tough guy can be and vice versa . . . as complete a male protagonist as is probably possible in the 21st Century. What struck me this time out is how, a la Chandler, A.W. Hill manages to stake the plot of the soul on top of the plot of the story, making for a page-turner that tries not to be more but can't quite help it--guilty and spiritual pleasure dancing on the head of a pin.
-ALAN RIFKIN, author of SIGNAL HILL STORIES and ALT.COUNTRY
from: MINISTRY, a new novel by A.W. Hill (published Fall 2022 TouchPoint Press)
I was told to take a stool opposite him, and Agnes took one next to me. He said to me, in a tone with a bit of my father’s softness, “You see, Isobel, there really is just one hope for us, and that’s to leave the earth in a form better than that in which we arrived. I’m sorry you won’t be with us. You gave it up for the God in that book.”
“Not that God,” I said. “At least not the way he’s described. His laws were good, mostly, and his prophets were wise, but in other ways, he was a tyrant, just like you.”
“So which God is it then?” he asked.
“One you’ll never see,” I answered. “One you can’t use second order axioms to kill.”
That last part, which had been the gift of Rabbi Eliezer, seemed to throw him.
“Ah, well let’s get this done so that you can see him sooner,” he said, recovering. What is your Section 144 challenge? A logic puzzle cooked up by one of your ‘crafters?’”
“Neither of those,” I said, handing him the paper. “It’s this. You have to disprove it.”
“With pleasure,” he said. He scanned the proof. “Yes, yes, you have done some homework. Early twentieth century logic. Modular. I think I know this…”
“It’s Gödel’s proof of God,” I said.
“Yes,” he said, running his finger over the symbols. “With a little adjustment at the end. No concerns. That just means it may take me twenty seconds rather than two to falsify it.” He got up from his stool and began to walk to a computer terminal about twenty feet distant, fanning himself with the paper and humming a tune.
“You don’t really care about the truth, after all, do you?” I called out.
He stopped, turned, and said, “What is truth?” Then he laughed and added, “You know, Isobel…or you ought to…that there is no outside text! There is no metanarrative. There is only circumstance and decision.”
I didn’t know this, but I took its meaning that the only truths are the ones we make.
from: THE HOUSE OF SLEEP, A Stephan Raszer Investigation (presently unpublished)
He was driving the MGB, of course. The worn leather seat was beneath him, yet its contours felt foreign through pantyhose and a dress. The sport steering wheel was in his left, the gearshift in his right, but the hands on them, manicured, long-nailed, and somehow more delicate, were not the usual hands. The face he glimpsed as he checked the drape of his bangs and the flutter of his lashes in the rearview mirror was his but not his, a psychic dislocation that more than once caused him to drift dangerously into the next lane. There was an interlude of about twenty minutes, between Riverside and Redlands, when he found himself weirdly aroused by the presence of the woman at the wheel, and the psychological abstraction of 'autogynephilia' was vividly reified. That he was able to handle. It played into his native curiosity. He was accustomed to examining the corridors of his own psyche. He was merely 'getting into his role,' and after all, it was, as he had noted so many times, a woman's car. But he was not prepared for what happened once the scrubby hills and exurbs opened up to desert and Mt. San Jacinto loomed up on his right. Seventy miles short of his turn-off to northbound Route 62, the unsettled spirit of Delores Auerbach, aka Leslie Overstreet, the aspiring soap opera star who'd spilled her brains and blood on its front seat and dashboard when her life had diverged too radically from her plans, began to invade his own. The blood stains, so methodically scrubbed out of the leather, reappeared and crept from the wheel onto his hands. The seat was suddenly slippery and viscous with the liquid life that had spilled from her. And when he glanced at the mirror, he saw not Vanessa Proxmire, man as woman, but a slightly zaftig girl of perhaps 23, with half her head blown off.
He took the next exit and pulled into a Mobil station, breathless and in what could only be described as a panic, a state of mind that twenty-five years of spiritual practice had all but banished. He sat trembling behind the wheel for fifteen minutes, and only when he'd convinced himself that it was her, not him, who was suffering such profound anxiety was he able to return to the interstate. He knew without the necessity of proof beyond knowing that what he'd just experienced was what Delores had felt in the moments before she'd killed herself.
And with this knowing came also a fleeting oneness with Jane, and Heather, and Penelope—with the women of Morphée and their pain, their sleeplessness, their fairytale wish to be made 'perfect.' Most of all, with their aching desire to be complete in being nothing more and nothing less than women. Not women aspiring to the dominion of men, but women in their own dominion, side-by-side and just a skin apart from this one. As he was a lover of women, it was lovely to be among them, but it was also a world of hurt, a world that was not truly their own, and into which they had to tiptoe anew each day.
Now he was ready to be Vanessa. In the moment of his panic, he had forgotten himself—as one always forgets in the agony of such moments. He had forgotten that this was, after all, the way of the shaman. To be torn apart before coming together.