a zoo in hell


My Work is Not Yet Done


Book cover

One of the things I enjoy the most about Ligotti's style is his ability to merge the common-place with the universal dread that seethes just below the surface. He has quite a talent with warping the known into something, if not unknown, at least barely recognizable. While his vision may overpower his stories at times, they are always worth reading. "My Work is Not Yet Done" is a collection of three stories, the title novella, "I Have a Special Plan for this World" and "Nightmare Network". All are clustered around themes of corporate horror and dehumanization.

While workplace violence may be a touchy subject, Ligotti merely uses this as a mechanism to crack open the real horror at the core of it all. Frank Dominio's journey from outcast to avenger and damnation peels back the layers of his workplace to reveal the primal cruelty and evil that pulls everything endlessly downward. The dark humor in the story is disarming; Frank Dominio is a variation of the insane clown trope, though we may not recognize it as such. I suppose without this humor this touchy subject would be unpalatable for most readers, but it also works as a distraction from the real killer that lurks behind everything that Frank is doing and will ever do. Ligotti loves his puppets and Frank is among their fractured and stained ranks.

Next to this story and its final effect the follow-on stories feel like they were just add-ons. They are both variations of corporations as godless hell, but "I Have a Special Plan For This World" works betters as a story. "The Nightmare Network" is an interesting piece but it doesn't have the coherent doom that is at the heart of the other writing in this book. Worth noting is that there is another Ligotti piece out there which shares a title with "I Have a Special Plan For This World". This prose poem, recorded with Current 93, could serve as the inspiration for the longer short story in this collection. Regardless, there is clearly a recurring theme of action driven by madness; an interesting outgrowth of Ligotti's rational and slightly Lovecraftian view of a universe insane with chaos. In a mad cosmos the only possible intelligence is senseless.

So, in this book we see the upper management of the nightmare factory is every bit as doomed as those that toil under blood-fuelled mechanisms. A strange thing because by all evidence the company's owner has long since vanished.

T.A. Wardrope