The Inhuman Condition: Tales of Terror

ISBN: 0671626868
ISBN 13: 9780671626860
By: Clive Barker

Check Price Now


Clive Barker Currently Reading Ebook Fantasy Favorites Fiction Horror Short Stories Thriller To Read

About this book

A master storyteller and unrivaled visionary, Clive Barker has mixed the real and unreal with the horrible and wonderful in more than twenty years of fantastic fiction. The Inhuman Condition is a masterwork of surrealistic terror, recounting tragedy with pragmatism, inspiring panic more than dread and evoking equal parts revulsion and delight.

Reader's Thoughts


The Inhuman Condition was the American release of Barker's later fourth volume of his books of blood. As with the first three volumes, the author continues his exploration into the extreme reaches of horror. Back in the late 80s, I heard Clive Barker speak and he stated he was trying to remove good and evil as a condition to terror. Terror can exist as an independent entity not related to a struggle between good and evil. I don't know where he is on that idea now. He unfortunately drifted from horror to fantasy. But I think he was certainly exploring that particular theme in these excellent tales of terror. Best stories? The title story and "The Body Politic".

Althea Ann

Classic Barker - if you're a fan, don't miss this one. I thought I had read all of the Books of Blood back in high school, but I didn't remember these stories at all.The book includes 5 short stories: The Inhuman ConditionA group of delinquents beat up an old homeless man for fun. But when one of them steals a knotted cord from him, and obsessively starts to loose the knots, he may loose demons upon the world... or worse. The Body PoliticA fresh take on the horror trope of hands that turn against their owner. RevelationsA preacher, his wife, and their assistant check into a haunted motel, where the ghosts may be trying to get things right, but the living are still prone to getting things wrong. Down, Satan!An evil tycoon, ignored by god, decides to re-create hell, on earth. The Age Of DesireIllicit scientific experimentation leads to the creation of an "aphrodisiac" that runs out of control."Revelations" and "The Inhuman Condition" were by far my favorites, but the whole book is worth reading.


More of a mixed bag than the previous volumes of the Books of Blood. A handful of strong stories -- "the body politic", "the inhuman condition" -- only go so far to make up for their lesser counterparts. Several stories are dragged out to near novella length despite the lack of anything interesting or horrifying, while one of the more intriguing premises (Down, Satan!) is left little more than a sketch, a scant 7 or 8 pages. Uneven, but still somewhat enteraining.


Featuring "The Body Politic" and "The Inhuman Condition" (two stand-outs), this moves the theme of the Books Of Blood into the more esoteric spectrum that Barker mined. Very good, very dark and very much groundbreaking, this is an excellent read and highly recommended.

Alex Telander

The Dark Weaveworld of Clive Barker, Part 1 of 3: “The Inhuman Condition”In the mid-to-late eighties, after the first three successful installments of the Books of Blood, the next three in the series were released under the same title. Earlier this year, these three books were re-released in paperback from Pocket books. The Books of Blood IV and V were published under the names of the first short story in each respective book: The Inhuman Condition and In the Flesh. The Books of Blood VI was published differently: joined with the novel Cabal, the four stories are added on after the novel, providing a very nice anthology for fans of Clive Barker.“The Inhuman Condition”: Two thieves decide to vent their anger on a hapless hobo, while the other sees little use in this and decides to wait at the side while the other two reduce the vagabond to a bloody pulp. Karney, while he impatiently waits, finds a piece of rope with three knots in it, belonging to the now bloody hobo. Taking the line of knots home, he furiously begins to attempt to untie one. It takes him days, but finally it is complete and a supernatural beast is released.The same occurs with the other two knots. However, the hobo wants the knots and its beasts back, for they are very much a part of him in a way that the reader cannot possibly imagine.“The Body Politic”: A story where one’s hands attain their independence and seek out a way to separate themselves from the unwanted body they are connected to. Like some nightmarish disease, this spreads to many people, and scenes are revealed in amazing imagery by Barker’s skilled pen, of hands detaching themselves from their respective bodies and then strangling and strangling until there is not longer any movement in the husk that the hands were once connected to.Only one man is able to devise a plan that will lead to the extinction of this army of protesting hands, though he carries it out at the sacrifice of his own life. Nevertheless, the world is safe again, for the moment. In another place, a new horror animates itself in rebellion.“Revelations”: Two of the characters in this story have been dead for twenty years (he from a bullet shot by his wife for cheating on her; she from the electric chair after being tried and convicted for the murder of her husband). They return to the scene of the crime in an effort to understand what went wrong.At the same time there is another couple, he an annoying Bible-thumping evangelist, she submissive and unquestioning. But this night will be different. This time she will no longer submit to his whim and that of God; she will stick up for herself for the first time. It will end in bloodshed and death, in a grand finale where shots will be fired. The end is already determined. And then again, not.“Down, Satan!”: A man loses his belief in God, his new plan is to find Satan and deny him, proving to God how faithful he is. To bring Satan to him, the billionaire creates a pseudo-Hell in North Africa: “There were ovens large enough to cremate familiars; pools deep enough to drown generations. The new Hell was an atrocity waiting to happen; a celebration of inhumanity that only lacked its first cause.” Though he is unsuccessful in ensnaring Satan, the many pain-inflicting tools of this New Hell begin to work, seemingly of their own accord.“The Age of Desire”: A new drug has been invented, one which turns on the libido to its full potential and lets it rule the body over the brain and the heart. The first time it is administered to a human, he rapes and kills the doctor then escapes. The other doctor disappears into hiding. The police arrive and pick up the pieces and try to understand what is going on. Meanwhile the infected human, possessed by what he considers an all-consuming fire on his skin, attacks the nearest person (be they male or female) and proceeds to abuse them in every sexual way possible. His desires rise to such a crescendo that he proceeds to find a sexual interest in inanimate objects, such as brick and stone.Originally published on September 10th 2001 ©Alex C. Telander.For over 500 book reviews, and over 40 exclusive author interviews (both audio and written), visit BookBanter.

Rowan MacBean

** spoiler alert ** The Body Politic - Everybody's hands have their own consciousness. Charlie George's are tired of being used and not appreciated, so they stage a revolution. Kind of a ridiculous premise, isn't it? I think this one could be read as black comedy if you wanted to see it like that. I was kind of disturbed, though. It left me frowning at my hands and wondering... It was my favorite in this book.The Inhuman Condition - Four trouble-making friends beat up a vagrant for fun. They try to rob him but find very little of value -- just a half bottle of booze. But one of them notices a knotted string on the ground and picks it up; he likes puzzles and the knots look complicated and interesting. Once the knots are untied, however, they release a series of demons. Mayhem ensues. I liked this one quite a bit, but I would have liked it more if there'd been a different explanation of the vagrant who originally had the string.Revelations - This is what it looks like when Clive Barker tries his hand at a traditional ghost story. Typical fare with some sex thrown in. I wasn't very impressed. Mostly it bored me. It will stand out in my mind, though, for one thing: John Gyer is one of the most loathsome characters I've ever seen.Down, Satan! - A tycoon named Gregorius feels that God has deserted him, so he devises a plan. He spends most of his vast fortune constructing a Hell on earth to summon Satan, at which point God will come to save and reclaim him (Gregorius). Unfortunately, Gregorius loses sight of this goal... I really like that the end of this one is left ambiguous. I also like how short it is -- it leaves a lot to the imagination instead of going into great detail.The Age Of Desire - An experiment to develop a chemical aphrodisiac goes awry and its subject goes insane with lust and escapes the laboratory. He proceeds to go on a debauched rampage, ignoring all other physical needs, until he burns out and dies. Um. I find this concept really interesting but it lost something in the execution. I mean, it was bound to, for me. After all, there was a whole lot of rape. But it was more than just that. At the end, I felt like it hadn't really gone anywhere, and it left me with no sense of dread or concern for that world.


Some stories I liked others not so much. one thing that really irritated me was that in one story he was quoting the book of Revelation a lot and was constantly calling it Revelations. This is just sloppy on Barker and his editors part. If you're going to have a character that's a traveling preacher at least pretend to know something about the Bible. Just don't pick the scary quotes and expect us to believe you.

Kim Schneider

It was good but odd. I honestly can't think of another description that could describe the short stories that make up this book.

Tammy Downing

A collection of short stories that are weird, spooky and will challenge the imagination. I started reading this at night and had to get a different book to read before I went to bed because my imagination was going wild. Mr. Barker is quite a good author.


Nice. There was a story about hands rebelling, which was kind of funny, in a twisted way, though pretty unlikely. A serum that causes a man to go crazy, a man who builds a form of hell on earth and creatures bound in knots in a string. Very unusual stories.

William Johnson

What was originally Books of Blood Vol. IV is a solid, and at times brilliant, collection of Clive Barker fiction."The Inhuman Condition" -- A vagrant picks up a rope lined with three knots after the gang he's with beat up an old drunk. The vagrant then decides to undo the knots thus unleashing demons once under the drunks' control. ***1/2 (There aren't any heroes here and the action is grim but early Barker was like that. Very well written."The Body Politic" -- A man's hands decide to revolt against him and unite all hands on every person to world domination. ***** (This sounds ridiculous to describe but Barker makes the ridiculous seem believable!"Revelations" -- A preacher's wife finds herself haunted by a ghost couple who were murdered in the motel she is now staying in. ***** (One of Barker's best. . .a masterpiece of short story horror fiction. The highlight of the volume)."Down, Satan!" -- A man tests God's existence by dedicating his life to building a personal hell on earth. ***** (Another marevlous, if all too short, Barker short story. The short amount of action begs you for more)."The Age of Desire" -- A victim of a failed experiment based on sexuality, Jerome travels the city looking to love anything and everything. ** (I just couldn't get into this one. . .too depraved even by Barker standards. Too horrific and too sexual. . .which is saying something if you've read Barker.

Tasha Robinson

This particular collection contains one of Clive Barker's weirdest stories, "The Body Politic" — in which everyone's hands decide they should be free to do whatever they want, and start hacking each other off human wrists and running around on their own "liberating" other hands — and one of his most grounded, "The Inhuman Condition," about a young hood who accidentally gets his hands on a little murderous magic, and gets obsessed with it. It's one of the stronger collections of the series, with the writing going back and forth between gothic and gritty, direct and expansive, and it showcases a bunch of Barker's different modes, from deeply weird horror-fantasy to something that's almost a police procedural. It's almost pointless to separate the Books Of Blood out as different from each other, since they all amount to one big showcase of Barker's short work, but given the scope here, I'd say this is one of the strongest of them when seen as an individual collection rather than part of the whole.


No horror writer I have encountered is more inventive and few fiction writers are more gifted at conveying a scenario and its meaning than Clive Barker in his young days. His inventiveness became too idiosyncratic and less credible as he ventured into fantasy work. That he is a great writer and totally thorough and original would be enough to make him noteworthy. But it is the way he deals with sex that pushes him into the sphere of truly brave art and, unfortunately, out of the mainstream. This is his fourth collection of short horror stories and it is no less impact-ful than its predecessors. "The Inhuman Condition" is basically flawless: a simple story told compellingly and originally. Same with "The Body Politic," in which hands develop consciousness and try to separate from the rest of the body... "Revelations" is wonderful but the ending lacks a resolution and shows how Barker began to violate his self-made rules in later fiction, thereby collapsing the story. Still a great story, though. "Down, Satan!" confused me and was just a 10-page sketch. "The Age of Desire" was him working at his best. The erotic made horrific made profound. (A mad scientist story where the potion turns him into an indiscriminate rape-monster.) The things he's written are the realizations of amorphous questions we all have about love, death and sex. But he goes there. You never wonder why a character does something, which is all the more remarkable considering the things they do in these tales. Best horror author you'll ever find, and this book is a great example of why.

Matteo Pellegrini

Da mesi Charlie si svegliava con un fastidioso indolenzimento ai polsi, eppure mai avrebbe immaginato che le mani, le sue mani, si sarebbero ribellate... Sadie è stata giustiziata sulla sedia elettrica per l'assassinio del marito Buck, ma il caso fa incontrare la loro esistenza di fantasmi malinconici con quella di Virginia e John, anch'essi in crisi matrimoniale. L'esperimento dei dottori Welles e Dance ha un esito agghiacciante: un innocuo studente occhialuto si è trasfomato in un mostro omicida...


-Voz propia, y más en su tiempo.-Género. Relatos.Lo que nos cuenta. Recopilación de relatos del autor que manejan la temática de horror o terror con estilo muy personal, y que nos narra historias como la investigación del origen y naturaleza de unos grafitis extraños, unas voraces criaturas que parecen relacionadas con una cuerda anudada, el intento ciclópeo de conocer en persona al Diablo, un experimento que genera violencia pero por razones muy particulares, la rebelión de unas manos frente a la voluntad de su dueño, eventos inquietantes en unas piscinas públicas abandonadas y el encuentro entre lo cotidiano y lo sobrenatural en un motel . Conocido con diferentes nombres según ediciones incluyendo, pero no solamente, “Sangre” y “The inhuman condition”. Cuarto libro de la serie Libros de Sangre, cuyos volúmenes pueden leerse de forma independiente.¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *