The Fifth World

The Dusty Man is K.J. Russell's debut novel, a story that strikes with images both exquisitely haunting and violent. It Introduces readers to the Ruin of the Fifth World, a grim alternate future in which the survivors of mankind are the strong, the ruthless and the ingenious. God is dead and the world is crumbling. Demonic commanders organize hideous armies against mankind and one another. The heroes that rise among humanity are just as terrifying as the monsters. And where are the Angels to bring goodness back to the world? Looking for a light in this shadowed world seems hopeless, but there are those who dare to challenge the tide of armageddon, and there is no God to help those who get in their way.

As the Eastern hemisphere slept, the mind of God awoke from a deep slumber. Invading the minds of all humanity, His awareness overwhelmed the waking West and rendered it void of life in an instant. Then as they slept, those in the East felt God die. His death emptied Hell onto Earth, unleashing demonic armies that drove mankind to the brink of extinction. Beijing rose as a final bastion, its military bolstered by ingenious technologies but driven to desperation by faltering supplies and the constant threat of invasion.

And the one weapon that could save them has just been stolen...

In the wastelands of Korea, a stranger covered in dust visits a lonely town of Buddhists and Christians living in an odd state of peace, and there he catches the eye of Seo Ha-Neul. The stranger brings lies, warnings, and violence. Rather than stop him, Seo tries to understand his motivations, even as supernatural forces threaten to devastate everything he knows.

"K.J. Russell's work is often dark, sometimes brooding, always lush with mayhem and magic."
- C. Stuart Hardwick, editor of Tides of Impossibility

"An intriguing and unvarnished tale of human tenacity, 'The Dusty Man' is definitely worth the read."
- Corinn Heathers, author of Bound Together'

"K.J. Russell excels in creating the kind of fantastic worlds you just love to lose yourself in. Wonderful stuff."
- D.L. Young, author of Juarez Square and Other Stories

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Set after the events of The Dusty Man, this short story takes readers to the post-apocalyptic remains of the holy land. After the death of God, thousands of people from every Abarahamic religion gathered around the cities of Jerusalem and Mecca to burn themselves in a massive ritual suicide that stretched for kilometers in all directions. Years later, these burned swaths of land have come to be called the Suicide Fields, but the desiccated bodies that once populated them are no longer inert. These still-burning corpses now walk the world, competing with the Angels of Death for the souls of the fallen and causing devastation wherever they go. Seeking answers, the one survivor of the Suicide Fields -- the Man Who Burns Alive -- returns to the place he should have died.

What awaits in the Suicide Fields is more than just grim reminders of past mistakes. Members of Beijing's spy network have already arrived and are quick to make themselves known, their purposes obscured. In the middle of a supernatural plot that could involve demons, gods, or something mortal men have never imagined before, one question smolders hotter than all others in the heart of the Man Who Burns Alive: did people come to the Suicide Fields of their own will, or were they victims of something larger and more sinister than they could have known?

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