cover image The Future Is Blue

The Future Is Blue

Catherynne M. Valente. Subterranean, $40 (376p) ISBN 978-1-59606-874-2

In this challenging collection of 15 reprints and originals with a variety of tones, themes, and styles, Valente’s unique knack for bending genres and confounding the senses is on full display. Her approach is dreamlike, even hallucinatory, leaping from one idea to the next with dizzying frequency and skill. Her multilayered, complicated narratives require careful, in-depth reading to grasp their full meaning. In the title story, set on a drowned Earth, the last humans dwell on floating cities of garbage, forever holding out vain hope for dry land. “Two and Two Is Seven” gleefully plays with alliteration as it examines the lives of ancient machines resigned to life in a hidden valley. “Down and Out in R’lyeh” reads like a hybrid of H.P. Lovecraft, George Orwell, and Hunter S. Thompson as it asks just what the Elder Gods are waiting for. “Major Tom” focuses on the intersection of humanity and artificial intelligence. Even the most straightforward offerings are often beautiful and sometimes frustrating, and some, such as “The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild,” are almost impenetrable in their surreal language and artistic construction. This collection is best suited for completists and devoted fans of Valente’s short works. Agent: Howard Morhaim, Howard Morhaim Literary. (Aug.)