The Book of Elsewhere

A Novel

About the Book

A mind-blowing epic from Keanu Reeves and China Miéville, unlike anything these two genre-bending pioneers have created before, inspired by the world of the BRZRKR comic books

“An exceptionally innovative collaboration from two remarkable minds.”—William Gibson, author of Neuromancer

She said, We needed a tool. So I asked the gods.

There have always been whispers. Legends. The warrior who cannot be killed. Who’s seen a thousand civilizations rise and fall. He has had many names: Unute, Child of Lightning, Death himself. These days, he’s known simply as “B.”

And he wants to be able to die.
 
In the present day, a U.S. black-ops group has promised him they can help with that. And all he needs to do is help them in return. But when an all-too-mortal soldier comes back to life, the impossible event ultimately points toward a force even more mysterious than B himself. One at least as strong. And one with a plan all its own.
 
In a collaboration that combines Miéville’s singular style and creativity with Reeves’s haunting and soul-stirring narrative, these two inimitable artists have created something utterly unique, sure to delight existing fans and to create scores of new ones.
Read more
Close

Praise for The Book of Elsewhere

“A philosophical, violent thriller about an immortal soldier pondering the nature of his existence, The Book of Elsewhere has an elegance that might surprise you for a pulp thriller. . . . [Miéville’s] presence as Reeves’ narrative collaborator . . . immediately makes it more interesting, even for those who aren't already fans of the comic.”—Polygon

“An exceptionally innovative collaboration from two remarkable minds.”—William Gibson, author of Neuromancer
 
“It’s clear that Reeves and Miéville are having fun with the tale and its often playful, even poetic language. . . . A well-written . . . treat for fans of modern mythologizing.”Kirkus Reviews

“It’s stylistically daring, combining sf, fantasy, parascience, history, and action. It’s violent, propulsive, and introspective, ultimately offering a philosophical exploration of identity and the meaning of mortality, chaos, and entropy. . . . Whatever it is, it works.”Booklist
Read more
Close
Close
Excerpt

The Book of Elsewhere

Prologue

A room, full of violence to come. Then with the nasty white light of LEDs. Then a man came in and sat between the metal lockers. He took a machine from his pack and ran protocols on it. Alone awhile, he stared at its screen. His comrades followed him in at last.

The man kept on with his preparations. All the other soldiers had their own rituals.

Two laughed together at dirty jokes. Two more in quiet focused synchrony checked their weapons. Another, shirtless, brisk, dropped and clap-push-upped at his comrades’ feet. The leader of the night’s enterprise came. He examined a map with such close attention it was as if he had found it in a tomb. The first soldier continued running diagnostics on his scanner.

Someone entered ready already, bulked up in an insignia-less khaki jacket zipped up to his chin as if it were cold. No one paid him attention. But as he cast his eyes around the room they caught those of the man with the scanner and the two nodded at each other.

The door sounded, a final time. This time everyone looked up at who stood at the threshold.

A tall lean figure in unmarked dark clothes, looking at them from below a long fringe of black hair. He stood still in silhouette.

Alone among his comrades, the man with the scanner stole a glance at one of those who had been preparing his weapon, while that man, in turn, regarded the new arrival, as did all the others.

The dark-haired man entered and that stillness broke and everyone went back to how it had been. The first man raised his scanner again, checking on its workings, took in the whole room in its scrying screen. He let it linger for another moment over he at whom he’d sneaked a look, switching his machine’s registers, converting the soldiers into a landscape of colored contours.

In the corner the newcomer stood head down and alone. Someone approached him.

The man with the scanner frowned. It was not the unique vortex of darkness on the screen that made him hesitate: he had seen the dark-haired man so manifest many times before. It was the anomaly of he who approached him—the shorter soldier with his jacket done up tight. That jacket was white and opaque on the screen, as clothes should not be. It glowed. It was shielded.

“Hey,” the deployer of the scanner said at what he saw on-screen. “Ulafson?” He watched as the soldier in the jacket tentatively approached the Unit’s asset.

He was too far away to hear. He scrolled to an audio-capture setting to read the scanner’s AI approximation of what it discerned from lip motions and the faint fringes of sound waves, but it could not get a clear reading.

The tall man turned to look at Ulafson approaching him and whispered as if beseeching. Ulafson held out his arms and came in fast, suddenly. His target regarded him without emotion. In came the would-be embracer, mouthing something, looking as if he was crying, and the man with the scanner said, “Hey!” again, loud enough now that everyone turned, and they all shouted too, and they saw the soldier in the done-up jacket pull a pistol from its pocket, and he was sobbing, you could see it now, and he aimed his weapon not at the figure toward whom he stumbled but out at the room, at everyone who now watched.

“Stay back!” he shouted.

The tall man with black hair reached out with his palm flat against the oncomer’s chest, blocked his path. He did not punch, did not knock him down, just stopped him. The sad-faced target did not speak or move in any other way, only held the shorter man at arm’s length as he strained to close the last distance.

The jacketed man shoved and grunted as the other held him off, and with his free hand unzipped his coat and reached into some inside pocket and there came a click and a glint of metal.

“Weapon!” someone shouted, as if he were not already holding a weapon, aiming it at them, at those alongside whom he’d killed and almost died. “Ulafson, no!” came another voice.

Gunshots. Very loud. Ulafson spasmed as the soldier with the rifle, at whom his comrade had glanced, braced, firing short bursts, face aghast, sending fire into the upper chest and thighs, avoiding whatever it was for which he reached, and Ulafson cried out under the onslaught and dropped his pistol but stayed standing, somehow, still shoving, fumbling, as bullets tore through and into his own target, who kept his face impassive as blood bloomed from him.

But he twitched, and his arm slipped. Those very bullets that were killing the jacketed man pushed him past his quarry’s blocking arm at last, right up close, into a clinch. With a last breath of triumph he pushed a hidden trigger.

The room filled again, with smoke and metal and noise and fire.

The first man who had entered the room was not the very last out, but he stayed through the tough bloody business of the cleanup.

He had been a good distance from the blast zone, half-shielded by those whose remains he watched being scooped, tagged, collected with what shreds of respect could be afforded spatters. He had recited their names in his head. He did not know how many yet alive would not wake up. How many, like him, would be back in the field after a diligent pause. How many had trudged past him to wash their friends from themselves.

A hand on his shoulder. That comrade who had fired first.

“Coming?”

“I’ll follow you,” he said.

At the far end of the chamber stood the team leader, his map forgotten, his face calm under blood. He lit a cigar, adding its smoke to the stink of gunpowder and herbs.

Sitting on the bench, at the epicenter of the scorched star of red and black, was the dark-haired man the immolator had tried to take with him.

Above his lips his face looked serene and almost clean, shielded as it had been by his chin, which was now a ruin, jags of jawbone dripping gore and skin. He sat with his elbows on his thighs. The watcher glimpsed spine through the burned cave where the man’s chest had been. Saw the motion of innards, like fish troubled by light.

He swiveled his scanner slightly, keeping his hand low, taking in the two. It was still on its audio-enhance setting.

When the team leader spoke, words crossed the scanner’s screen.

—You OK, son?

The seated man did not look up. He sighed out blood and moved that ragged mouth.

—Tired / Diet / [?] the watcher read.

—Jesus what a mess, came the other’s words. —What was he f***ing thinking?

His interlocutor shrugged. He reached under the overhang of his own torso meat and pulled something out of himself. Held it up.

—? Class / Glass / ?, the machine said he said.

—Yeah, the other said. —He was wrapped in bottles. Techs’ll figure out what was in them.

—Four Thieves Vinegar, the machine had the ruined lips respond. —And holy water. Rock salt / sold [?] and the nails are from horseshoes. And you can smell it. Sage. He set off burning sage.

—What do you mean? How do you know?

—I know what salt and vinegar feel like in a wound. Ulafson bagged / packed? the bomb full of charms. And, Keever, that’s not all.

The ruined, dark-haired figure passed over a tiny scrap of scorched and bloody paper.

—That was under my ribs.

—I can’t read it.

—It’s a name.

He gestured around the room and continued.

— Most / nosed? went up but there are scraps. Names. The names of the Unit’s dead. The ones who got too close.

The two men looked at each other awhile.

—I’m so tired, the seated man said. His scorched heart dripped. —Of this. He gestured at the room. At himself. At last he looked up and made an abrupt bubbling sound.

The older man said, “Are you laughing?” He said it loud enough that the watcher did not need to read the words.

—It’s the cigar, the other said, as the watcher looked back at the screen. —Déjà vu.

About the Author

Keanu Reeves
As a remarkably eclectic actor, Keanu Reeves has made an indelible mark on the world of entertainment through the diverse roles he has played. He is best known for his starring roles in The Matrix and John Wick franchises. Reeves made his comic book writing debut in 2021 with BRZRKR, a twelve-issue and graphic-novel limited series distributed through BOOM! Studios, which quickly became the highest-selling original comic book series debut in over twenty-five years. In 2023, he returned to the big screen in John Wick: Chapter 4, which became the highest-grossing film in the franchise. His other recent projects include The Matrix Resurrections, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Always Be My Maybe, Toy Story 4, and the video game Cyberpunk 2077. Raised in Toronto, Reeves performed in various local theater productions and on television before relocating to Los Angeles. More by Keanu Reeves
Decorative Carat

About the Author

China Miéville
China Miéville is a New York Times bestselling author of fiction and nonfiction. His novels include The City & The City, Embassytown, and Perdido Street Station. A recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship for Fiction, he has won the World Fantasy, the Hugo, and the Arthur C. Clarke Awards, among others. His nonfiction includes a study of international law and a history of the Russian Revolution. More by China Miéville
Decorative Carat