Allow Me a Moment of Unabashed Fangirling

Posted: March 13, 2013 in Reading
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Confession: I am a complete and utter fangirl for Catherynne M. Valente. You are welcome to consider any of my opinions of her work irretrievably biased.

Perhaps knowing this about me will help you to understand why I went all Kristen Bell on Monday when I heard the mail slot clank, a knock at the door, and the husband figure talk briefly with the postman. I knew. I just knew. Six-Gun Snow White had finally arrived. I must’ve just sat there petting my new pretty for a solid five minutes. Squee, indeed.

Unfortunately, I am not yet able to offer you a review of the book because I’m still munching through it. In the meantime, I thought I’d do my due diligence that everyone who reads this blog is at least somewhat familiar with her blog.

First: Silently and Very Fast

Go. Read. Now. Seriously, I’ll wait for you to get back.

Okay, I’m going to assume your mind is now sufficiently blown by the awesomeness of that story. And I don’t mean “awesome, dude” kind of awesome. I mean “full of and inspiring awe.” It’s grand in scope. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful. It’s satisfyingly subversive. SaVF takes language and common tropes and even anthropocentric assumptions about artificial intelligence and bakes them into a souffle of perfectness.

Next: “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time”*

There’s a good reason Valente’s work is called “mythpunk,” and this story is the poster child for it. I’m in love with the way she reinvents creation stories with a sprinkling of scientific theories and principles. Even as a scientifically literate agnostic, I find these renditions of the infant world mystical. Then she dovetails the scientific creation of the world with the more organic and gradual creation of the “science fiction author.” Brilliance itself.

Finally: Deathless

Although I certainly loved the book when I first read it, my appreciation for it grew exponentially after I’d turned the last page. As usual, Valente’s writing is breathtaking and beautiful. However, it was the metamythology** that really stuck its barb in my brain and worked its way inward. Last October (when I MET Valente!), she told me she thinks Deathless is her most adult work. I hadn’t read it yet, so I had no context for her comment. Now that I have read it, I have some idea of what she meant. Still, if I ever meet her again, I’ll have to resist the very strong urge to monopolize her time with questions.

You know, I really haven’t done justice to Valente’s works here. I haven’t really reviewed them so much as gushed over them. There’s just so much meat to them that the best I can offer at the moment is a snippet of how they made me feel, which is obviously insufficient. I’ll have to go more into detail on them individually at a different time. For now, however, I’ll sit on my couch next to my fireplace with a mug of hot tea in hand and lose myself in pages and pages of the sensitivity, intelligence, fragility, and beauty that Valente brings to her stories and her characters.

Be jealous. Or join me in reading her work. It’s your choice.

*You may have noticed that both of those stories come from Clarkesworld magazine. These are by no means diamonds in the rough over there. The quality of the work in that magazine is always excellent. If you like what they do over there, you should seriously consider supporting them so they can continue to do what they do best: bring brilliant short science fiction and fantasy to the masses.

**In a funny turn of events, I followed Deathless with Redshirts by John Scalzi. I found this accidental pairing satisfying and appropriate.

  1. Nikki says:

    I luuurve Valente from what I’ve read but still haven’t fully explored her shorter works. Thanks for the recommendations!

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