October 4th, 2012


Book Review: Silently and Very Fast, by Catherynne M. Valente

A tale of mythological science fiction

Silently and Very Fast

WSFA Press, 2011, 127 pages

Fantastist Catherynne M. Valente takes on the folklore of artificial intelligence in this brand new, original novella of technology, identity, and an uncertain mechanized future.

Neva is dreaming. But she is not alone. A mysterious machine entity called Elefsis haunts her and the members of her family, back through the generations to her great-great-grandmother -- a gifted computer programmer who changed the world. Together Neva and Elefsis navigate their history and their future, an uneasy, unwilling symbiote.

But what they discover in their dreamworld might change them forever...

Available online (in audio too!) at Clarkesworld Magazine.

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Verdict: An elegant, verbally elaborate construction of sci-fi and folklore. Silently and Very Fast tells a human fairy tale about an artificial intelligence. This novella is either literary ambition or literary pretension, depending on how you feel about Valente's prose.

I go both ways with her, as you can see from my reviews of The Habitation of the Blessed and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. But TGWCFIASOHOM is one of my favorite books ever. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There is one of the few books I've ever pre-ordered - I'll be receiving it this week!

My complete list of book reviews.