11 August 2016

Enigma: A Review of Radiance, Catherynne M. Valente

A fairly relaxed family, with a few fundamental rules in place, my house as was my childhood's is dictated overwhelmingly by one; if it is an Olympic year, you must watch. Thus, as my parents in British Columbia sit glued to the TV, so too is their grandson, daughter and son-in-law in Toronto. The child, as his dear Momma whispered wishful hopes of one day he being a member of the Canadian swim team, completed laps through and around the house. By the time my six year old laid his sweaty, curled locks onto his dinosaur pillow-case he was a snoring Olympian in under one minute. The allure of staying up late, with the added pleasure of watching a sport that captivities one's parents is such a monumental experience. I cannot fathom to guess what lurks deep within his brain, locked tight within his little soul of happiness.

With promises of a pool day so our little champ could practise his front crawl, my reading senses are tingling. Enraptured by the sporty things, further enhanced by a desire to read only detective novels of certain historical persuasions, I am at a crossroads. Continue the rumba with the whodunnit or generate the sci-fi geekness that manifests Thank the Maker  gloriously nerdy? Unseemly to ponder January's briskness, especially sitting under our maple's canopy while the wind whispers August's delightful slothfulness, but winter I revert. A month of reading inspired by the gorgeous stack of holiday books, the first month of 2016 was sublime. Of all those amazing books, Catherine M. Valente's Radiance rose beyond my expectations, becoming one of the most creatively illusive stories this girl has ever, yes ever, read. 

Radiance, as the Olympic dream attempts to soar above the political juggernauts of it's own creation I give you science fiction, defiantly so. In fact, it's uniqueness has kept me mum, reluctant to recommend in fear of announcing my passionate propensity to the weird. And weird it so blissfully is, so much that sitting down to the this tale requires a great leap of faith, a willingness to just let things be, and a fortitude to accept that what is on the page. 

While on Venus to film the mysteries disappearance of a diving colony, Severin Unck's crew limps home to Luna with the horrific inability to adequately explain her death. An alternative universe, wrapped within a space opera, tantalizingly shrouded as a mystery novel, Radiance is nothing more than glorious. Questioning how much to reveal, Radiance is best served as an enigma, probing the reader to swim through it's chaotic, yet poetic waters. The story will bounce you through a version of our solar system, alien yet comforting.This is a world draped in the theatre, with visual links to classic science fiction. Space travel is by rockets; the planets, viable options with thriving civilizations, each providing unique opportunities for humanity to elevate or implode. 

Frozen within 1920s cinematic overtures, Radiance is a love-song to the silent film. For this girl, however, it resonates deeply, showcasing what an author, when inspired is able to write. May one day, I be so inclined. 

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