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Radiance: A Novel Kindle Edition
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|Length: 433 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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One of the most anticipated books of 2015. -- SFF Book Reviews
Starred review. "...descriptions are lush and striking, her worlds reveling in the dreamiest of nods to classic science fiction, where alien planets are full of life and easily reachable... A heady, strange, and beautifully written novel about how stories give form to worlds." -- Kirkus --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
About the Author
CATHERYNNE M. VALENTE's first major novel, The Orphan's Tales, won the James Tiptree Jr. Award and was nominated for the World Fantasy Award. Her next, Palimpsest, was nominated for the Hugo Award, and her recent YA phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a New York Times bestseller that earned starred reviews from all three major review outlets. Valente lives on a small island off the coast of Maine with her partner, two dogs, and a cat.--This text refers to the paperback edition.
- Publication Date : October 20, 2015
- File Size : 1017 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 433 pages
- ASIN : B00N03G440
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Publisher : Tor Books; First Edition (October 20, 2015)
- Language: : English
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #364,865 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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For example, early on, two different scenes are portrayed in tandem: A movie opening and a funeral. It’s only when you reach the end of the chapter that you realize the alternating events are told by entirely separate people and Valente doesn’t have the writing chops to pull off two different PoVs here. Both characters have the exact same voice. Not being able to write from different PoVs is a problem for a book containing so many of them.
The second issue is, you can tell Valente is a feminist. Which is fine in the “real world,” but makes the writing so utterly dreary and boring. You can always tell a feminist because:
1: The heroine, you know the one that we lady folk are supposed to identify with, utterly rejects all things feminine, as is told to us early on. Severin Unck has a masculine name, a masculine personality, eschews women’s clothing, and can run and gun like Annie Oakley, apparently, while somehow being the most bee-yoo-tee-full woman anyone has ever seen on the silver screen. All while not caring a whit about her hair and makeup, which are almost always described as miraculously perfect. “I woke up like this.” Mary Sue.
Any female character who exudes any kind of femininity is referred to negatively, even once as “inhuman.” Through the mouths of feminine characters we are told “Nothing real is pretty.”
Yikes, it’s safe to say this author has some issues. I hope she works those out someday because she’s got a great imagination.
2: You can also tell she’s a feminist because every single male character is horrid. They are either whiny, or manipulative, or abusive, or boorish, unfaithful cads. There’s not one likable male character in the bunch. Which is a neat trick considering just how many male characters there are.
The book is a mystery told in alternating timelines about the disappearance and presumed death of young filmmaker Severin Unck. One of the biggest problems is that Severin is a self-obsessed, cynical bore and so I don’t really care what happened to her. Possibly the solar system is better off without her movies, anyway, judging by the way she hates everyone and everything.
She’s just better than everyone else, in her own opinion. Her only saving grace is for one moment in an interview she acknowledges she has not proven her mythical heroine status by actually producing a good film. Yet. Ask her in two years, she says. She’s so confident she knows better and is more capable than her famous father and every other director in the solar system.
The author’s utter distaste for parents and parenting drips from every scene. You’re supposed to feel sorry for Severin, having been raised so poorly by so many crappy people, but her attitude and the way she treats other people prevents you from caring about her. Plus, it’s all told and not shown, so there’s little emotion at all for a girl who was given heroin by one of her stepmothers.
There are also strange info dumps where Severin and her lover remind each other about Severin’s many stepmothers, two people saying “Remember the time….?” “Oh, yes, remember this….?” over and over, sort of like a checklist of Severin’s many stepmothers. The audience reading the book becomes the audience of the story, reading interviews and watching film clips to glean information, which makes everything seem stilted and performed instead of real and engaging.
Another info dump is utterly pointless. It’s an entire chapter consisting of just a list of a ship’s crew and the things they brought along with them. 250 tins of marmalade, if you need to know. I didn’t. Who cares? So much of this book has zero payoff. Long descriptions of scenes and people that ultimately do nothing for the story and serve no purpose, all while the book is telling you that a good story is meticulously planned with every detail leading up to the finale.
Everyone in the novel sounds exactly the same and everyone is awful. I would imagine it took quite a number of people to bring this novel to fruition, at least according to the author’s list of people to thank at the back. You’d think somewhere in all those people, at least one person would’ve pointed out that there is not one single likable character in the entire book.
This is a book about movies, written by a person who clearly does not like movies. It’s a book with a lot of people in it, written by a person who does not like people. This book is a bitter diatribe about an era and a profession that the author has little respect for and even when she endeavored to create her own history of it, she only managed to somehow make it all comically worse than it actually was historically. So, it’s not nostalgic; it’s just angry and pointless.
I wanted to love this book. I wanted it to live up to that stunning prologue. But it just didn’t. I had to force myself to keep reading past page 80 it was so boring. This author has a lot of raw talent, but her disdain for her subject matter and characters made it too painful to read.
Okay, then imagine that silent films are considered so artistic that films are produced primarily without sound, and also in black and white.
Now put yourself in the Hollywood, film-noir mentality. An Orson Welles movie, perhaps.
Meet Severin. She’s the daughter of a famous gothic film director, and has always grown up under the spotlight as a beloved film icon. She becomes a documentarian, traveling the stars and making her own films. Her fifth film—The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew—explores a city that’s disappeared on Venus, and a child that circles the city. She and her crew travel to Venus, begin filming.
And then she disappears.
Told through scripts, gossip columns, interviews, and a fictional first-person detective, Radiance explores the impact of Severin’s disappearance on those who loved her, as well as the history of a person who’s always been in the limelight. As always, Valente’s writing is mesmerizing and unique, and I’m awed by her ability to capture so many different tones. Radiance is her first science fiction novel (she has several sci-fi short stories, one of which was the jumping off point for this novel), and it combines the pulp aesthetic of 1950s sci-fi with postmodern storytelling strategies.
This is a book that’s meant to be read fast. If you let too much time go by between reading, you’ll miss connections. It wasn’t until about halfway through that I realized what was going on with some of the parts, and I went back to reread so I could make sure I was following! But it’s utterly unique and beautiful. For sci-fi, fantasy, and film fans, you should absolutely read this.
It takes a leap of the imagination, but if you can let your mind give way to Valente's worlds, you will be overwhelmed with where she dares to take you. I have been a fan of hers for many years now, beginning with Palimpsest. She is an author like none other.
Top reviews from other countries
While Radiance has great qualities, I did find it hard work. The story flits about in style, format and point of view. I could see that the story was about our everyday viewpoint colliding with the vastness that lies beyond. Other-worldly animals and plants had familiar names to cover up their weirdness. I got the point there, which did not make the story any easier to follow.
As part of the idea that people take their own viewpoint out into strange places, Radiance has many references to travellers carrying familiar stories with them into space. But although the story of Radiance uses all kinds of easily recognised genres, it somehow lacks a familiar pattern. In an adventure story there is usually some mundane home that people leave behind. Dorothy leaves Kansas for Oz, for example. I mention the Wizard of Oz because there are a number of allusions to Kansas in Radiance. But the people mentioning Kansas don’t seem to know where it is. They certainly don’t know how to get there. Dorothy’s home remains an arty metaphor. Maybe that’s why I felt lost. There was no Kansas. Everywhere seemed to be Oz.
At one stage in the book someone says: “Something has to be real. Something real has to anchor the magic.” I would say this is very true, and sums up what Radiance was lacking.
Radiance is a brave effort and beautifully written, but I was rather glad to get to the end.
I wanted to love this book. The idea of storytelling in the Golden Age of Science Fiction, where Venus was jungle and Mars a desert plant and Pluto a cold and lonely place enthralled me. There is no question of doubt that Ms Valente can write. Her prose is well written, descriptive and rich language. Yet the first third of the book is not engrossing. Several times I was tempted to call it a day (most unlike me), but I persevered and came to enjoy individual chapters, but did not feel caught up in the book. I loved the environments Valente created with a scientific background which had moved at different speeds with different technologies than our own has. Overall I believe that she has striven to deliver something different and for that must be applauded. As an enjoyable read, however, it has not succeeded for me. Many think differently and for that reason this may be the book for you.