The Inhuman Condition: Tales of Terror

ISBN: 0671626868
ISBN 13: 9780671626860
By: Clive Barker

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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

Linda Branham Greenwell

I'm not quite sure how to rate thisThere are 5 short stories. The first 2 are amazing.The third is goodThe last 2, I didn't care forThe first, The Inhuman Condition, is terrifying as is the title story about a knot and the demons that hell unleashes when the knot is undone. Original and kept me interestedThe second, The Body Politic, Charlie has the strangest thoughts. He thinks his hands are planning a revolt, plotting against him and the whole human race. Very originalThe third, Revelations, A modern day ghost story with a small twist. An evangelsit and his wife and assistant check into a motel where a murder had taken place several years in the past. The deceased couple are also there to recreate the murder or try and reconcile, who can tell. Witty and strange. Clive keeps us enthralled. The fourth, Down Satan, is rather short story about a man who wants to meet God - but finds that God seems to have abandoned him So he decides if he puts himself in danger from Satan, that God will come. So he builds a Hell on earth to entice Satan. Bizare and dark, never really takes off as a full story. The fifth, The Age Of Desire. I have no idea what to say. Scientists are involved in an experiment with love drugs - that seem to go out of control. The subject of the experiment seems to become rather overcome with sexual desires - some very descriptive passages. Very pornographic. Makes you wonder what is in Clive Barkers mind

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.

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.


I read this 20 years ago, give or take a few years. I even read "Down, Satan!" out loud for my high school English class, freshman year. They were too confused to be shocked, if memory serves. The one about the severed hands is amazing, probably. Would need to re-read it to be sure. I think this was the only Clive Barker I could find at my tiny public library.


One of the follow up collections of short stories after his Books of Blood (in England it was another book of blood). In any case, some great short stories that aim to horrify; it's not as strong as the first three collections (Books of Blood), but worthy of any horror collection. "The Body Politic" really stands out.

Philip Fracassi

The most fun I've had reading a collection of horror stories in a long time. These stories are weird, and funny, and gross enough to make you squirm a bit while chuckling along. Great collection by one of the masters.

Laura Buechler

I enjoyed this book of scary short stories. "The Body Politic", wherein a man's hands decide to find out if there is life beyond the body, and "The Age of Desire", wherein an experimental aphrodisiac goes horribly awry, were my favourite stories. Barker's writing style is hypnotic as always and this was a great pre-Halloween read.


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.

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.

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.


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.


Un poquito más de lo mismo, sin embargo y según mi opinión las historias que tal vez puedan captar más la atención sean la de la muerte y la última que es la del detective.


A few of the stories such as Body Politic (a man's hands decide to liberate themselves and other hands across the globe as Messiahs) made this collection of short stories scary enough I didn't want to go to sleep. Even the ones that were not "as good" were still fantastic.


The fourth volume of Clive Barker's famed Books of Blood series is one of the strongest collections. The first and title story, The Inhuman Condition, is a surreal imaginative story of cords with elaborate knots which, when loosed, unleash a strange beast. The second story, The Body Politic, is almost funny in its concept...hands that have a conscious of their own and rebel against the rest of the body, demanding that they have their freedom. There's probably some deep metaphors at work here, but it takes the fluid prose and enchanting storytelling of Clive Barker to make this work. My favorite story of the lot is the third, Revelations, even if what the title signifies is an example of Barker committing a big pet peeve of mine. (The last book of the New Testament is Revelation (singular, not plural)). This story is a complex, engaging account of two ghosts (murderer-murder victim) reliving the setup in a Texas motel room, while a troubled marital situation involving a charismatic, fire and brimstone evangelist and his submissive wife are brewing next door.The fourth story is the very short Down, Satan! is a Poe-esque fable. The last story, The Age of Desire, is by far the most disturbing where the human guinea pig of a new aphrodisiac becomes the king of sexual psychopaths. This one was hard to read, yet difficult to ignore the incomparable storytelling genius of Clive Barker.

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.

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