cover image Ultravioleta


Laura Moriarty, . . Atelos, $13.50 (262pp) ISBN 978-1-891190-24-7

In her enchanting second novel, Moriarty (Cunning ) goes for nothing less than the nature of time, space, life and art—literally creating a fictional universe. Stella Nemo, the most appealing sort of sophisticated naïf, plunges her paper ship, the Nautilus , into deepest, blackest space, crossing into the fraught domains of other planets and other minds, beaming requests for information to Ada Byron (a clone and psychic information scientist), and dreaming of the renaissance poet Thomas Wyatt (who exists as data). Stella's mission: to attempt to think and to write without being disturbed, derailed or killed—by competitor plots, space junk or malfunction. Moriarty offhandedly lends Stella's journeys serious stakes: the elaborately artificial setting beautifully contrasts the joys, terrors and banalities of writing and publication, captured with delicate irony and attention to nuance. Sweet Borges-like thought experiments meet Philip K. Dick paranoia, with strands of science fiction, romance, pulp noir, fairy tale and the American road novel taken up by characters like Cap (a robot), beatlike figure Eddie Zed, hot muse Tinia, cute guy Dayv, blow-hard Pontius Pilate (pilot of the frighteningly huge, attention-grabbing ship Ultravioleta ) and a malevolent, unstoppable, plural group called "the I." This mission is as keenly ambitious as it is successful. (Dec.)