Fleshworld (standard edition) UK

(13 customer reviews)


Threatened by a killer virus, the city formerly known as London splits into two zones. On one side the safe bubble of Pure World; on the other the perils of Fleshworld. When Rich’s perfect wife disappears, he has to cross to the dark side to save her. Time is running out. Has she already been soiled forever? And why did she go to Fleshworld?

“A dark, transgressive novel, shot through with disturbing sexual imagery.”
The Herald


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“Fleshworld is a compelling and elegantly-crafted novel.” The Scotsman

“Fleshworld is psychopomp: a funfair slide through Clockwork Orange’s purgatorial milk bar into the seminal experimentations of Michael Moorcock…” The Times

Fleshworld is a dark, transgressive novel shot through with disturbing sexual imagery.“  The Herald



 “Caution: Carole Morin is deliciously dangerous for your peace of mind.”  Sir Harold Evans

13 reviews for Fleshworld (standard edition) UK

  1. Jim Lawrence

    Dostoyevsky in The Interzone

    Fleshworld, by Carole Morin

    Between painting her toenails and delicately sipping cocktails, the mysterious genius Carole Morin spent lockdown writing Fleshworld, a harrowing and heartbreaking dystopia with a difference.

    Set in a near-future, post-plague version of London divided into Pureworld and Fleshworld, it tells the story of Richard Powers and his obsessive, controlling relationship with his perfect wife, Ice, and a young prostitute called Trash. Ice goes missing one day from their bubble in Pureworld, only having taken six days’ supply of Safe, the vaccine invented by Powers to inoculate the wealthy inhabitants of Pureworld against sex rot, the disease that caused the division of the city into its superego and id. Powers goes to Fleshworld, where he encounters the waif Trash and her pimp, Bad, and discovers Ice being kept in The Pink Pussy, a nightmarish sex club catering to the rich, decadent thrillseekers of Pureworld. He devises a plot to get Ice back, using the innocent Trash as his unwitting accomplice.

    Those are the basic elements of this bleakly imaginative story, a kind of morality tale that does not moralise but explores the labyrinthine workings of the human conscience as it tries to navigate the logic of guilt, its justifications and counter-arguments, the need to confess, the fear of redemption and its concomitant freedom. Memory, confabulation, fantasy, base motives, the ineluctable hold of the past and how it shapes a personality, complexities of the human condition due to our weaknesses and our aching for forgetfulness, our fervent desire to be good despite the darkness that enfolds our lonely souls and lures us into selfishness, cowardice and madness: these concerns are the motives of the protagonists in this profound and disturbing story.

    This might sound as if Fleshworld is heavy going, yet it is anything but. It glories in a spare, sometimes aphoristic prose (it is a very quotable novel) that compels the reader to keep turning the page. There is none of the obsessive, often tedious world-building that blights many dystopian narratives; Pureworld and Fleshworld are laid out for the reader convincingly, with just enough detail to pique the imagination and create an environment that tests the characters physically and morally.
    I stated that Fleshworld is a dystopia with a difference. The difference is that it is not a satire or a warning. It has nothing to do with social realism and everything to do with symbolism and surrealism. It is an existential exploration of choice and the angst it engenders, of secrets and lies and need; a game played with the shifting illusion of identity, the stories of us that we tell ourselves. It uses various meta tricks to tap at the fourth wall, a dominant colour scheme (pink, white, with dashes of blue and red) and olfactory traces; and echoes of Lolita, Theseus and Ariadne, Prometheus, Mirbeau, Hitchcock, with a shocking Oedipal theme for good measure. Pureworld and Fleshworld are apocalyptically united at the end, because the repressed always finds another, worse way to assert itself. But none of this is done with crude one-to-one mapping of mythic and literary references neatly onto the narrative. The writing is too subtle, too intelligent, too truthful, for that.

    Is there a moral to this story? Yes, but I am unsure what it is. Perhaps it can be summed up in Rich’s last observation:
    ‘Stains on the soul are not indelible, they can be loved clean.’

    Carole Morin is a highly accomplished and unique author,.

    #dystopia#fantasy#surrealism#science fiction

  2. The Herald

    Fleshworld is a dark, transgressive novel shot through with disturbing sexual imagery writes Alastair Mabbott in the Herald

    From its very first page, Carole Morin’s darkly disorientating dystopia puts its readers on edge, plunging them into a strange and seemingly unknowable future that only gets more discomforting the more she reveals of it.

    Fleshworld, Morin’s fifth novel, is set in a London which has been split into two parts following the rise of the Pure Party. The Pure World is all about chaste living and self-denial. Its flipside, Fleshworld, reached by crossing over a deep pit filled with flesh-eating insects, is the repository of our basest human desires, and residents of Pure World can get day passes to wallow temporarily in its depravity.

    This future London is toxic and riddled with disease, and sex is the most hazardous thing of all. Narrator Rich Powers is the creator of Safe, a vaccine which protects against sex decay, apparently a form of leprosy. Those who can afford it inject Powers’ vaccine daily, making Pure World a place divided between “old people, safe in their fortresses, and feral children roaming in search of food and fun”.

    Some of the wealthy old people protected by Safe still indulge clandestinely in the pleasures of the flesh, and it’s after Rich persuades his wife, Ice, to attend an orgy that his life goes off the rails. Ice leaves their luxurious, impregnable home, taking only a few days’ worth of the Safe vaccine with her. Convinced that she has crossed the border into Fleshworld, Rich comes up with a plan to get her back that would cost him his soul, if he thought he still had one worth saving.

    For, like everyone we see in both Pure World and Fleshworld, Rich is a deeply damaged person. Flashbacks to his childhood show him tormented by his mother, a zealous early recruit to the Pure Party, who attempts to terrify the boy into a life of chastity….
    His upbringing has instilled in him a lifelong self-loathing matched only by his internalised misogyny. Doubting that he can ever be truly loved, he suspects his trophy wife (“my happy ending”, he describes her at one point) of only wanting him for his money, and he expresses his devotion in the form of surveillance cameras planted all over the house and tracking devices in her earrings. Meeting an under-age prostitute in a bar, he automatically amends her name from Trish to Trash and, disregarding all concerns for her safety, treats her as a worthless pawn who serves no other purpose than to further his plans.

    Fleshworld is a dark, transgressive novel shot through with blunt misogynistic language and disturbing sexual imagery. But, amidst the rape and murder, the abuse of children, the repeated violation of women’s bodies and even suggestions of necrophilia, there’s a story about a lost child falling in with a lost couple that offers all three of them a chance to haul themselves out of the purgatory of their lives.

    There are some rather on-the-nose character names (Rich Powers himself, a sleazy pimp named Bad), and the final threat feels as though it’s been tacked on to spice up the ending with a bit of jeopardy. But this provocative, skilfully-written novel is a compelling take on guilt, self-loathing, the acceptance of penance and the longing for redemption.

  3. TV Records

    I can already see Fleshworld as a David Cronenberg film in my mind’s eye

    Despite being set in a vividly cinematic, dystopian future, somewhere between Ballard and Burroughs, Fleshworld is a timeless, deeply romantic tale of love, loss and redemption, that delves into the subconscious, exploring past traumas and their effect on the psyche. Galvanised by a nail biting plot, eerilly echoing Hitchcock’s Vertigo in places, in spite of its futurist iconography.

    I can already see Fleshworld as a David Cronenberg film in my mind’s eye, interspersed with Douglas Sirk, in some crazy parallel universe, where love and hope triumph over the horrors of the past.

    Beautifully written. Like all the best books Fleshworld, is both an entertaining page turner and haunting journey into the depths of the human soul, which will linger with you long after you have put the book down.

  4. The Times

    Friday July 08 2022, 12.01am,

    The Times July sci-fi round up by Simon Ings

    Fleshworld by Carole Morin
    Rich Powers, a corporate princeling of Pure World (the benighted half of a future, sunless London), has lost his wife to the city’s other half, Fleshworld, where punters go to bathe, squirm and couple under lurid artificial light. Rich conceives a plan to rescue her from Fleshworld’s Pink Pussy bordello. But his plan comes at a cost: to get his wife back, he must exchange her for Trash Night, an innocent(ish) schoolgirl, sacrificing her to Fleshworld’s faceless, shapeshifting Chairman Luck. Fleshworld is science fiction as Frenzy-era Alfred Hitchcock might have conceived it. It’s psychopomp: a funfair slide through Clockwork Orange’s purgatorial milk bar into the seminal (I use the word advisedly) experimentations of Michael Moorcock and George Zebrowski. Carole Morin understands what the young-uns have forgot: that politeness has no place in science fiction.

  5. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman
    Book review:
    Thursday, 21st July 2022, 8:26 pm

    Set in a dystopian future London which has been split into two halves, one puritanical, the other hedonistic, Fleshworld is a compelling and elegantly crafted novel, writes Stuart Kelly

    This is a rather intriguing, deliberately disconcerting novel. When I read the press release, I confess my heart sank: “Threatened by a killer virus, the city formerly known as London splits into two zones”. I am already tired by coviderature, whether it comes in the form of “I predicted it” or “this is how we got through it” or old books being reissued as “eerily prescient” or maudlin reflections on solitariness. There are other variants as well, and I doubt this will change at any time soon (in fact, I would bet on an exponential rise in case numbers). That said, Fleshworld did interest me because the author has an impressive track record and it promised to look at the conditions of intimacy in a contagious pandemic.
    Broadly speaking, in terms of genre, this is dystopian science fiction. London now has two sectors, the cold, sterile, atomised area of Pure World and its dark, hedonistic twin where anything goes, Fleshworld. The novel is mostly narrated by a medical technologies pioneer, who goes by the name Rich Power (I think one can fairly say symbolism is intended here), the inventor of a drug called “Safe” which, taken daily, ensures those in
    Pure World are free from the “sex decay”. Pure World is also puritanical – Rich’s mother was influential in the Pure Party – and polices its citizens with a police force known as “Dirties”. Fleshworld is an orgy of debasement, presided over by the enigmatic “Chairman Luck”, who may or may not exist, and whose bailiwick is not just brothels but gruesome executions and sadistic competitions. The novel’s trigger is that Rich has asked his very glamorous wife Ice if she would attend a “flesh party”, a diluted version of the behaviour across the border. Indeed, she was “disdainful of depravity on this side of the border, when Fleshworld has a stranglehold on it”: but she goes.

    There is a degree of psychological acuity in this. Rich, wealthy, needy and married, is setting up an experiment to see if, had Ice the chance to sleep with anyone, she would still choose him. After the event, she disappears, and it seems as if she has gone into Fleshworld. Learning that she is there, and is involved in a game you cannot end unless someone takes your place, Rich decides to procure a young girl as a substitute. Never underestimate the extent to which men feel the need to be the hero, nor the moral compromises they can reach when their trophy is taken from them.

    This is all done with elegance if not nuance. Stylistically, it aims for an affectless poise (much like the character of Ice). There are very few flourishes or pyrotechnics that elaborately draw attention to the prose. It is what Roland Barthes called “writing degree zero”, which seems appropriate as the other predecessors that flicker in the background are writers like Georges Bataille, Witold Gombrowicz and Jean Genet, with their obsessions with the erotic, the transgressive and the revolutionary. A second point worth noting is that Rich’s narrative is punctured by italicised outbursts, usually using sexual language that drips with loathing. It is revealed early on that this is an internalised version of his mother, a Puritan with a certain linguistic disinhibition, and who we learn is very much the reason for Rich’s emotional and physical damage.
    One real curiosity is the number of questions marks in the monologue. So, for example, on a page taken at random we have “Was I guilty of something after all?… Did I kill her?… Is that why I never completely broke free?… Is there another Rich who does things that I am scared to?” This prompting is a kind of demand for the reader’s co-operation: “don’t you want to know?” is rarely answered with “Couldn’t really give a monkeys, but I guess you’ll tell me anyway”.
    The novel begins and ends with a curious redemption, but not an unambiguous note: “Stains on the soul are not indelible, they can be loved clean”. The book certainly has a neatly aphoristic quality: “Emotions are mass market, picked up from old melodramas, derived in turn from Greek tragedy and God’s daydreams”. I was struck by how Morin’s work is part of a strain of Scottish writing that is increasingly underappreciated. It reminded me of the gothic and feminist re-workings of classic tropes that the late Emma Tennant produced (somebody really should republish The Bad Sister), or the obsession and horror in Candia McWilliam’s A Case Of Knives, which manage to combine a certain dream-like uncertainty with the utterly visceral. Morin certainly fits within that particular tradition.
    As I creep contentedly into middle age, increasingly I am delighted to read a book and think “I didn’t mind reading that” – there are, as regular readers will know, some times when I do very much mind. Fleshworld is well-crafted and has compelling thoughts, even if most of the characters are dislikeable. But then that is just a kind of realism.

  6. BBC Bigwig

    “It sounds like an excellent potential movie . I look forward to stealing my bf’s copy.”

  7. Ross Maroon

    Really enjoyed Fleshworld, although it is quite disturbing! Echoes of Banks’s ‘Wasp Factory’ in there, Brave New World and 1984. Very vividly created dystopian twin cities. Will recommend for dissertation!

  8. Sonya Schiff


    “A tale of trauma, glamour and attachment issues set in hell. A great read. It’s fantastic. I love it.
    My jaw dropped a few times too.”

  9. Ruth Fielding

    Just finished Fleshworld. WOW Carole Morin has an extraordinary imagination & a fantastic use of language. Dark, daring & disturbing. Makes you think!

  10. Cindy Stern

    A great book. It should be made into a strange film.

  11. Andrew Catlin

    I stayed up all night reading it. I felt disturbed all the way through.

  12. Paul Mackie

    “Really gripping”

    Science fiction from the age of Asimov (now and tomorrow) where widescreen concepts are tagged, then taken for granted, so they never interrupt the plot… the characters move like chess pieces trying to assert their own outcomes, but always frustrated by their own internal logic… love and romance aka selfishness and self-delusion revealed layer by layer… who knows what other people are thinking about all the time? It really is gripping.

  13. Alex Hopkins

    Intriguing story of love, damage and dangerous beauty….This slender but complex novel steadfastly conjures up a dystopian nightmare, a world of flesh-eaters, rampant, smelly ‘Sex Tools’,  ‘scheming little sluts’ and gargantuan, walk-in ‘Pink Pussies’. It’s vintage Morin: a twisted story told in elegant prose, with a more than generous sprinkling of nihilism, dark humour and brutality – all served with palpable glee and Ice cold Martinis. In this wicked yet intriguing study of love, damage and dangerous beauty, nothing is what it seems. This novel reinforces Morin’s formidable reputation as a fine stylist, and, it must be said, a thoroughly wicked yet captivating artist.

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