July 23, 2015 • Cee • Letters

Dear Catherynne M. Valente and Radiance,

I’ve pretty much waited all my life for this book. Please be in my life right this instance.

Radiance is a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood—and solar system—very different from our own, from the phenomenal talent behind the New York Times bestselling The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

Severin Unck’s father is a famous director of Gothic romances in an alternate 1986 in which talking movies are still a daring innovation due to the patent-hoarding Edison family. Rebelling against her father’s films of passion, intrigue, and spirits from beyond, Severin starts making documentaries, traveling through space and investigating the levitator cults of Neptune and the lawless saloons of Mars. For this is not our solar system, but one drawn from classic science fiction in which all the planets are inhabited and we travel through space on beautiful rockets. Severin is a realist in a fantastic universe.

But her latest film, which investigates the disappearance of a diving colony on a watery Venus populated by island-sized alien creatures, will be her last. Though her crew limps home to earth and her story is preserved by the colony’s last survivor, Severin will never return.

Aesthetically recalling A Trip to the Moon and House of Leaves, and told using techniques from reality TV, classic film, gossip magazines, and meta-fictional narrative, Radiance is a solar system-spanning story of love, exploration, family, loss, quantum physics, and silent film. Goodreads

Here are my reasons why I want to read this book:

  • A book described as a “decopunk pulp SF alt-space opera mystery”? You know I will be 100% on board. You have decopunk, space, and a mystery? How does that not tickle your interest? It surely did for me! It’s so crazily amazing. I could already imagine the world Catherynne built by those simple descriptions. It also made me excited to see the world building! Let me see this world!

  • This is an alternate universe of Hollywood in space where the talking film industry is still new. Can I say OH HELL YES PLEASE?! Can you imagine a world where the Edison family essentially rules the film industry? Instead of talking films taking off in the 1930s, it was still trying to take off in 1980s in this Radiance world! How crazy is that? It’s something I really want to see!

  • Radiance is told in different writing techniques. You’ve got gossip magazines and classic film as examples of what you may find in this book. I love unconventional writing styles, and I am absolutely delighted when I see books use different narrative forms like House of Leaves or the upcoming Illuminae. It’s not something that’s done very often, and when it is, I love it because it gives readers a different experience of reading the book.
  • You have Severin rebelling against her father, and traveling space and making a documentary. SO COOL, RIGHT? Severin isn’t going to follow her father’s footsteps of making films. She goes on a journey to explore the solar system, and I can’t wait to see what she finds and learns. Space is such a rich and vast setting; can you imagine the world-building of it? Boy, oh boy. 😍

  • I want to know what happened on Venus. In the synopsis, we learn that Severin never returns, so what exactly happened?

I’m sure you can tell how much I am in need of this book. Who else is excited about this book?





2 Responses to “SINCERELY, CEE | A letter from yours truly to Radiance”

  1. Jackie says:

    You had me at “decopunk”. Can it be October yet? Because I seriously want this book in my life. I don’t even think I can wait for this to come out in paperback, I’m that intrigued. Thank you for putting this on my radar!

  2. I NEED IT CEE. Thank you so much for drawing my attention to this one because I’d not heard of it. It looks so incredible *sigh*

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