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Radiance: A Novel by Catherynne M. Valente
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Radiance: A Novel (original 2015; edition 2015)

by Catherynne M. Valente (Author)

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5532428,101 (3.77)28
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.… (more)
Member:googoomuck
Title:Radiance: A Novel
Authors:Catherynne M. Valente (Author)
Info:Tor Books (2015), Edition: 1st, 432 pages
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Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente (2015)

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Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
Super weird, but pretty good despite. ( )
  carliwi | Sep 23, 2019 |
4.5 Stars
  ssteinbr | Sep 21, 2019 |
I did not like this book, or did I? To be honest I am not sure. I read this as an eBook and Kindle and I must advise you not to do the same. I had to keep checking the timeline at the front of the book to position the chapter I was reading in context. This would have been much easier with a paper book. The layout of the book itself is somewhat novel (excuse the pun), as we read of scraps of film, interviews, meetings, memoirs and travelogues, with which to try to piece together the disappearance of our lead character Severin.

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. ( )
  PhilOnTheHill | Sep 8, 2019 |
2018 Read Harder #17 - Read a sci fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author
  Muhrrynn | Jul 11, 2019 |
This is such a strange book. It takes a long time to get going, but once the ball starts rolling, look out.

Like the best science fiction writers, Valente knows that sci fi is at its core about humanity. What makes people tick? How does Mars, or Venus, or any of the other planets, reflect our own selves?

In Radiance, Valente explores these themes through the lens of filmmaking. Movies are just a way of telling stories, same as books. Who tells those stories? Who has the camera (or the pen)? What value lies in fiction and what in fact?

At the center of Radiance is Severin Unck, daughter of the famed film director Percival Unck. After living her childhood on camera (including multiple retakes to capture the perfect, if totally fictional, Christmas morning), Severin rejects her father's fanciful films for the documentary. She's quite successful, too, until one shoot results in the deaths of several of her crew and her own Picnic at Hanging Rock-esque disappearance.

The book can be confusing at times. Severin's father, Percy, attempts to bury his daughter by making a film that will somehow solve her disappearance and likely death. It's not immediately clear, however, that the excerpts from that film are supposed to be fictional--which is perhaps the point, but not one I'm overly fond of. Percy turns to several different genres, and unfortunately, the first one he uses is noir detective. I hate noir detective. Only Bogart could get away with that.

There are so many questions left at the end, and every answer only leads to more questions. But it seems fitting to leave things unfinished. Somehow, it seems Severin would approve. ( )
1 vote miri12 | May 31, 2019 |
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For Heath, who taught me about light
and my father, who taught me how to get the shot.
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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.
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