The Pains

The Pains

An illustrated Dystopian Phantasmagoria

Buy a printed copy of The Pains from John Sundman & get it personally inscribed to your specification by the author

Buy a DRM-free PDF of The Pains from John Sundman

Buy the Kindle version of The Pains from Amazon

Scroll down to get to links to sample chapters.


Say you’re the Savior, Fred Christ. Would you want your frozen head to be reaninmated in 1984?

The world is going all to hell. War looms. Earthquakes happen with increasing regularity; weather patterns are awry; birds are in the water, fish in the air. Old ways wither; old languages are lost as the memories of their last surviving speakers disolve like cobwebs. Something rotten this way comes.

Governments collapse around the globe, leaving only The Party to rule over all.

In a prison cell, a madman spins theories of the mind, conjuring his own freedom. In cars and bars and shopping malls, proles obediently obey the jaded dictates of Big Brother, Ronald Reagan and Oliver North that emanate from the irony machine they call the telescreen. In a subzero laboratory, a scientist stares at an imprisoned god. And in a lonely bare room in a vast and nearly empty monastery, a young novice studies and prays and contemplates the idea of simple goodness, trying to comprehend chaos. For which his only reward will be the pure torment of The Pains.

In a world that’s part Orwell, part Cheney, and part who knows what, a holy man tries to find a way to give meaning to his suffering, and perhaps thereby save us all.

Cheeseburger Brown, the creator of Simon of Space brings, brings this universe to life with twelve vivid illustrations.


Here are what some readers have had to say. There are more reviews on the web; your friend the google can help you find them

The Internet Review of Science Fiction, said

As we travel through his surreal Freemerica, some of the things we encounter are familiar and some are fanciful, but the goal is to make us think about how much of this connects to our real world. While the mundane audience looks to science fiction to predict the future, what the genre really does best is comment on the present.

England’s Grumpy Old Bookman Michael Allen said

The Pains also touches on the key issues of our times: it is a book which is philosophical almost to the point of being mystical. Its central question is, how do we rescue a soul gone bad? And the soul that has gone bad is that of Freemerica; upon the fate of which, like it or not, the rest of us largely depend.

Mind over Matter

Mind over Matter is the name of the three-volume work comprising

  • Acts of the Apostles (Mind over Matter volume blue),
  • Cheap Complex Devices (Mind over Matter volume red) and
  • The Pains (Mind over Matter volume black)

Although each book can be read without reference to the other two, each book is informed by the other two & is really best understood as part of a larger metafictiony tale.

The books are related to each other thematically, not chronologically, so there is no “first” book in the set. In general, however, Acts is the most straightforward book of the three, and most people read that one first.
Acts and Devices are pretty tightly coupled (like a binary star, or like the Earth and its moon) and The Pains is more remote (like a comet that passes near them every once in a while).

Read The Pains

Here’s the first few chapters of The Pains, in HTML format. The book itself has a niftier look.

Buy a printed copy of The Pains from John Sundman & get it personally inscribed to your specification by the author

Buy a DRM-free PDF of The Pains from John Sundman

Buy the Kindle version of The Pains from Amazon

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