I just finished reading Aurorarama by Jean-Christophe Valtat. Leave it to a French Verne Fanatic to get Steampunk right. Instead of just gluing a bunch of random gears to a top hat and calling it Steampunk, Valtat incorporates the aesthetic and weird science of the sub-genre no one seems to know how to describe into the story in a hundred little details that bring the unique landscape and characters to life.
Mixing a bit of magic into the oddball shenanigans of the characters, we follow revolutionaries and lovers through a frozen landscape of New Venice and beyond, all in search of the true North Pole, which is more a numinous expression of true self than it is a place on any map. There are frozen patriarchs, the ghosts of famous explorers, Inuit politics, day dreams and Jazz music, weird contraptions and an arctic kangaroo. Something for everybody.
The language is beautiful and evocative, and form a non-English speaker, this is quite an accomplishment– Valtat writes English better than most native speakers, even a few writers I could mention. The story is fun and thoughtful. My only complaint is that I would like to see more of the world and learn a bit of its history but as this is the first in a series, I’m sure I’ll get my chance.
If I were prone to anthropomorphizing, I’d be scared because Hurricane Irene seems to be targeting about 90% of the people I know. My family is in the Chesapeake Bay area/ Eastern Shore, up through Baltimore and my wife and I have friends all up and down the East coast, from Raleigh to New York who are in harms way. It’s going to be a very tense weekend.
Stay safe everybody!
Um, wow, 2 weeks of silence. That makes me a bad host, like inviting you to a party at my place and then ignoring you. For 2 weeks.
Nothing terribly exciting to report as an excuse, I’m afraid. I’ve just been writing. And unlike Warren Ellis, I don’t have a fancy deathbar to keep track of my novel’s word count visually so you’ll just have to imagine what 47K out of 100K words written looks like. If my math is correct (cary the 2…) that puts me at 47% of the way there. I should hit the midpoint some time this week (ideally, by Wednesday but you know what happens with ideals: the real world crushes them in front of your face and laughs). Then the fun begins: trying to make all the crazy shit I’ve written thus far make sense.
So, yeah working on my novel has absorbed my time and left little room for ranting on the blog about politics and what not. Also, I’m kind of tired of that. What more is there to say? Abject stupidity rules our country and nothing is going to fix that. We’ll all die, probably broke and in a gutter from a preventable disease but at least our lordly wealthy betters will be able to say they turned a profit before the toxic sea rises to swallow civilization whole. That’s if the apes don’t get us first.
So there’s that to look forward to as well.