Dinner at Deviant's Palace Analysis

Tim Powers

The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

More than a century after a global thermonuclear war, Gregorio Rivas makes his living in post-apocalypse Los Angeles as a violinist with a regular nightclub act. In his youth, Rivas had been seduced by the cult of Norton Jaybush, whose worshipers are called Jaybirds. Later, he became a redeemer, rescuing cult members for a price. He is now living on his fading reputation and looking forward with growing fear to an impoverished middle age. Fate pulls him back into the dangerous life of a redeemer when Irwin Barrows, father of Rivas’ one-time sweetheart, Urania, asks Rivas to rescue Urania from the Jaybush cult. Rivas takes the job, even though it requires that he pretend to join the cult himself.

Jaybush is a mysterious figure whose cult members practice a devastating ritual that literally destroys the mind if undergone too many times. Jaybirds disappear into the Holy City (Irvine) and are never seen again.

Deviant’s Palace is an improbable and deadly nightclub in Venice, home to many of the dregs of post-holocaust Californian society, including an astounding variety of mutants. The stories told about Deviant’s Palace are too bizarre to be believed, but Rivas, who spent much of his reckless youth in Venice, now studiously avoids the place. Rivas’ attempt to free Urania from the Jaybush cult, however, leads him to the Holy City, back to Venice, and, as the title indicates, to Deviant’s Palace. In the process, Rivas discovers Jaybush’s true identity, and he becomes custodian of the most deadly secret in the world.