Friday, March 17, 2017

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, by Kij Johnson

I'm starting on the novella nominations for Nebula, and began with The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe.  This is her commentary on The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, an unpublished Lovecraft novella.  There are many references and touchpoints the Lovecraft story in Vellitt Boe. 

Vellitt Boe is a professor at a women's university in Ulthar.  The world is a strange, frightening and arbitrary place--distances, mathematical formulas, and most anything else may change at any time.  The sky is a low, roiling thing with numbered stars and planets that traverse it arbitrarily.  One of Vellitt Boe's students elopes with a Dreamer, a man from our world.  She goes on a quest to get her back.

The story is told in a beautiful, near-poetic voice.  Sort of an antidote to Lovecraft, who did something similar in a dark way.  I've never read Unknown Kadath, but could still appreciate this work.  It celebrates the strength of a woman of experience, showing her in all aspects.  I think it's a favorite for the award, and I'll give it four stars.

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