Sunday, April 18, 2010

On "The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew" by Catherynne M. Valente (4321 words) ****

The winner of the Million Writers Award a couple of years back (hers was my second favorite story that year and a notably deserving winner), Valente brings her lyrical prose to the subject of film--on a distant planet. Valente reminds me a bit of Nabokov. Her prose is not easy reading, but it's beautiful, and there is something very suggestive about most of what flows out on the page. Here, we get this odd juxtaposition of the old and the future. We watch old films, made sometime a few years back, from a place sometime in the future. We obsess with the narrator about a documentarian. We watch as she watches, examine as she examines. We wonder what is said (the films are silent), and we glory when a deaf person who reads lips tells us something fairly mundane. The story reminds me a bit of an Oscar-nominated short film from a few years back. That animated piece of sci-fi was set in the future as one might have imagined it were one writing sci-fi in the nineteenth century--folks pushing through space in heavy steam engine-like spaceships. Gorgeous. Bizarre. The same might be said for this piece, which you can read here at Clarkesworld.

No comments: