“A Buyer’s Guide to Maps of Antarctica,” by Catherynne M. Valente (2008) E

Date read: 8?.09
Read from: Clarkesworld #20
Reviewer: Emera

I had previously mentioned “A Buyer’s Guide to Maps of Antarctica” as being one of my favorite short stories read in 2009, yet had never gotten around to posting a review.

I don’t want to spoil a single bit of it, so I’ll just say that it’s like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell except with Antarctican cartography (yes, duh – seriously, I refuse to reveal any of it, please just go read it if you’ve got the chance), and that it’s funny, delightfully imagined, and ravishingly beautiful. I rather wish it had won the 2009 World Fantasy Award that it was nominated for, but clearly that’s not up to me. So instead I’ll just flail about it here.

Go to:
Catherynne M. Valente
“Urchins, While Swimming,” by Catherynne M. Valente (2006) [E]

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  1. Maureen E’s avatar

    That was really wonderful–I love the idea of a whole story being told in that very dry curator tone. And Antarctica readily lends itself to the idea of something unexpected and magical.

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  2. Emera’s avatar

    Valente also takes the same curatorial (what a good word for it!), artifact-based approach in “The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew.” There’s a strong thematic overlap as well, and of course it’s similarly lovely. I’ve been meaning to review that one as well!

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  3. Maureen E’s avatar

    Oh yes, I remember that one. I’ll have to keep my eye out for Valente; she seems to write lovely things.

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  4. Anda’s avatar

    Just read “The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew” Amusingly I though that Bysshe was a sort of female Ray Harryhausen, making films of a different sort of real.
    But if I ever get enough money to make a short film adaptation. That one. That one is the one I’d make. The images would look so wonderful in black and white stop motion. This story will be stuck in my head for years now.

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