Kij Johnson: The Dream uest of Vellitt Boe



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I m not familiar with the HP Lovecraft short story that this is a reply to The Dream uest of Unknown Kadath but Lovecraftian themes abound and I recognize a lot of the referencesVellitt Boe is a Professor at the Woman s College of her University when one of her students runs away with a man from the waking world Fearful that the College will be disbanded because of this Vellitt heads off in ursuit on foot to bring her back Her only companion is a mysterious black cat that has chosen to follow herWhat follows is a fascinating story of a woman who was once a traveler discovering that she still is one and the otherworldy The Contemporaries place that she travels through Along the way she encounters horrors and allies sometimes one and the same and continues her journey at greatersonal cost with increasing stakesThe way that Johnson uses language here is really evocative of the dream world at once fantastic and terrifying under the gaze of capricious and hostile gods that Lovecraftian theme again That being said I m not sure I loved it There s something just a bit too apart about Vellitt Boe and I think Johnson communicates that as well UML Weekend Crash Course [With CDROM] particularly with how she feels about the University at the end of the story She remains a consummate traveler Weird and wonderful short tale of a universityrofessor who is looking for a missing student I hadn t read any of Lovecraft s stories but I still enjoyed this very muchFirst of all I learned what a group of cats is called A clowder had congregated with the uad as well they ceased whatever was their business and watched as Vellitt and Oure Steampunk Erotica passed and one a small black cat separated itself from the rest and followed them into Jurat s stairwellg 15 A clowder how cool is that I nearly have a clowder of cats at my house Also this story has a bit about talking to cats In her far travelling days Vellitt had known a dreamer who claimed to understand the speech of cats but of all the cats she had ever met in Ulthar a town crammed with them none had ever spoken to her nor anyone else none that she knew anyway Poker Slave pg 43 ebookBesides all of the cat things there is an awesome twist to this story view spoilerWhen Vellitt Bow was young she had been a far traveller a great walker of the Six Kingdoms which waking world men called the dream lands hide spoiler This novella is a real delight I love all things Lovecraftian with or without the inherent racism of the original but fortunately almost EVERY handut to the task of building upon the mythos has recreated it into something egalitarian and deep while still retaining the rich rich imaginingsThis continues the uest within the Dreamland but from the To the Golden Shore point of view of a middle aged teacher of mathematics from within this other world helping out a student from our world who had fallen in love with a man in the Dreamland who if allowed to continue would set all the gods of creation on a tear to destroy everything because the two SHALL NOT mixMy favorite bits are the fact that this woman doesn t have any special skills She settled down from her wandering days to become arof but still dropped it all to go on a long and wonderful uest filled with monsters and demons and whatnot with nothing than her Indulge (Warm Delicacy, perseverance Imaginative So imaginative This continues Lovecraft s original sure but Kij Johnson flows deep within these rivers that are at once familiar and very unfamiliar evoking a blase attitude to things that are richly disturbing and strange evoking awe with simple concepts like the number Pi that doesn t change its value and so many other cool bits with Ghasts and Gouls and GauntsAfter reading this I m thrilled andretty well amazed and totally on board with reading anything else this woman has ever written Anything that can evoke awe in this old reader has got to be cherished This one might make my top Tabloid City pick for the Hugo Novella category for this year It s either that or Every Heart a Doorway Many reviews of Vellitt Boe start with something like I hate Lovecraft but I love this book but as a fan of Lovecraft and specifically The 35 stars I read this not originally knowing that it is a kind of response to Lovecraft s The Dream uest of Unknown Kadath Even without thatrior knowledge I enjoyed this but having read over the synopsis of the Lovecraft tale I Kirkland Revels probably would have enjoyed it immensely if I wasreviously familiar with that story This would be good for fans of Lovecraft who are not fans of the blatant racism and sexism of that time Before reading this story I highly recommend reading Lovecraft s Dream Cycle or at the very least The Dream uest of Unknown Kadath as this is a commentary on it Kij Johnson s To Him Who Sits on the Throne piece is both an homage and a criticism She captures the wandering uesting tone and the series of encounters with eldritch and weird situationserfectly I would venture to say that her writing even improves on the originalsBut what convinced me to up this to four stars was how much I enjoyed the reversal of erspective Lovecraft s cycle of tales osits a strange land which can be visited only through dreams and his Youth, Beautiful Youth protagonist Randolph Carter is the typical Adventuresome and Exceptional Man Here ourrotagonist the middle aged rofessor Vellitt Boe is an inhabitant of that fabulous dream world Of course to her it s just where s We ve seen this book so many times someone from our world ends up in a ortal universe and goes adventuring Everyone from the Fault Lines portal world with all their rich stories cultures relationships dreams becomes just aart of the landscape a Hunt for 901 prop for ourrotagonists to experience a strange world and discover themselves The Dream uest of Vellitt Boe is not this bookThis is a book about Chasing After Infinity people and cultures from theortal world the Dreamlands People from our world might end up there by dreaming but they only appear as characters in Morir por un iPhone - Apple, Foxconn y las luchas de los trabajadores en China passing and never have much conseuence Still whenevereople from the waking world reach the Dreamlands they are just as arrogant as any characters we ve seen in other works He had been a man like many so wrapped and rapt in his own story that there was no room for the world around him except as it served his own tale the black men of Parg and. Professor Vellitt Boe teaches at the restigious Ulthar Women’s College When one of her most gifted stu.

Kled and Sona Nyl the gold men of Thorabon and Ophir and Rinar and all the women invisible everywhere except when they brought him drinks or sold him food all walk on arts in the lay that was Randolph Carter or even wallpaper Later on we get to meet this lovely man He loved who he was Randolph Carter master dreamer adventurer To him she had been landscape an articulate crag he could ascend a face to ut to this Cast On, Bets Off place When were women ever anything but footnotes to men s tales But this book is not about Randolph Carter This book is about Vellitt BoeMeet Vellitt Boe She is a 55 year old brave adventurer from the Dreamlands She s also an esteemed Mathrofessor And in between teaching at the university climbing mountains fighting off scary creatures sailing the open seas adventuring in various underworlds verbally sparring with messengers of the gods and going on epic uests that can change the world she finds the time for dresses hair and fine foods and drinksIn other worlds Vellitt Boe is just like most women I knowOh I forgot the most important detail She has a cat sidekickBut before I go on let s take a step back and give some background The Dream uest of Vellitt Boe is a retelling of Lovecraft s The Dream uest of Unknown Kadath As I mentioned in my review of another Hugo finalist The Ballad of Black Tom I haven t read Lovecraft s works Perhaps I would have understood and appreciated this novella better if I had but I still loved it and The writing in this book was odd from the beginning Very stilted And then there were some seriously confusing sentences Here are two examples He offered her two additional gifts of great value a Private Elisha Stockwell, Jr., Sees The Civil War password that should secure safeassage and the aid of any ghouls she encountered and a carved red opal suspended from a fine black iron chain which would allow her to see in the lightless under realmsI had to reread that three or four times because I kept counting that as three gifts rather than two She took this to mean she should climb its back and it was thus they crossed her face inches above the gaping vertical mouth that split its head in halfAgain I had to reread because I thought the creature she was riding had its head split in half I never did figure out what this one meantThe writing bothered me yes but I also found the story to be rather dull Of the 166 Past Lives, Future Lives pages I think at least 140 was spent on the journey I never felt attached to the college itself and didn t entirely buy the whole reason for the journeyI wish I knew about the Lovecraft story that inspired this I m guessing it was something about the gods themselves Anyway any interest I might have ha I didn tlan for it but this is my second in a row fan fic story The title should have been familiar from a highschool short foray into Lovecraftian horror but the source of inspiration only became clear to me when reading the afterword acknowledgements I first read it at ten thrilled and terrified and uncomfortable with the racism but not yet aware that the total absence of women was also Love with Every Beat problematic This story is my adult self returning to a thing I loved as a child and seeing whether I could make adult sense of it Kij Johnson is keeping the vision of Lovecraft alive approaching the Dreamland from a differenterspective while remaining faithful to the call of adventure and to the sense of horror that lurks around almost every corner In The Dream uest of Unknown Kadath Lovecraft sends his hero Randolph Carter on a wild chase through a CPA Australia - Advanced Taxation parallel universe alace where dreams become nightmares and where fickle gods hide in the immensity of space Vellitt Boe is a teacher from this scary Dreamland and she sets out on her own uest to cross over into our reality and recover one of her errant students Clarie Jurat who eloped with a dreamer as the likes of Randolph Carter are known in the underworldVellitt Boe is the kind of heroine I would like to find often in fantasy novels She s the complete opposite of the young feisty If Walls Could Talk (Haunted Home Renovation Mystery, princess with a hidden talent in either combat or magic torn between two hansome and rich dreamboys At first glance Vellitt Boe is an elderly staid andredictable math teacher Celephaian Doctor of Teoretics and esteemed Professor Maior at Ulthar s ancient and honorable University Faced with the crisis of her runaway star student Clarie Vellitt Boe Arcana Mundi proves to be not only resourceful and determined but also young at heart and ready for adventure You see she was not always arofessor She had been born in the harbor town of Jaren where the frigid Xari spilled into the northern reaches of the Cerenarian Sea but in her nineteenth year she left and for years after that she voyaged crossed به سوی زبان شناسی شعر plains and forests and fenlands ascended mountains and walked in the belly of the under realms sailed in strange hulled boats across unfamiliar oceans under the low sky She had travelled until she realized that this yearning life could not be sustained that time woul eventually erode away her strength and courage and so she stopped She applied to the Women s college of the University of Celephais and settled into rooms there aerfect student brilliant and disciplined She received her Physical Studies degree in Mathematics and came to Ulthar to stay and grow old and teach other young women rational responses to their restlessness It had been sensible a reasonable end to her far travelling youth The restlessness of youth and the call of the distant exotic lands beyond the horizon which of us has stopped hearing its song Is this not what we seek in all these fantasy novels on our shelves A little mystery a little danger a little romance to relieve the boredom of a routine life among concrete and glass towers Is this not what we dream about when we look in the windows of travel agencies or on the internet at the unusual holiday destinations Now where did I Genesis put my tent my sleeping bag and my camera I want to join Vellitt Boe on her journey Dropping the tinder box into its little interiorocket she lifted the rucksack by its shoulder straps It was lighter than it would have been for she no longer had rope and grapnel nor her blanket roll nor the compact little cooking kit she once. Dents elopes with a dreamer from the waking world Vellitt must retrieve herBut the journey sends her on

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Carried but it was heavy enough for all that On an impulse she walked into the bedroom and looked at herself in the Mirror Matter pier mirror A stranger infinitely familiar stared back a stern eyed woman in walking tweeds with heavy laced boots and black and silver hairulled away from her lined face An old woman but not soft or she thought with a sudden inward wry laugh A Kiss of Shadows (Merry Gentry perhaps not uite old but also softer than she had been Vellitt Boe sets out on her uest and soon enough it becomes evident that the journey itself is the story rather than the destination Yes we have alot and a terrible curse that can only be avoided if Clarie Jurat is returned from our Earth back to the Dreamlands But in the Dreamland the game is Six Days played by different rules reality is like a softutty in the hands of the local gods and the fate of individuals is just a game for their amusement Vellitt Boe is sent from one corner of the realm to the other in her sdearch for a magical key to unlock the Gate of Deeper Slumber Inhospitable deserts haunted forests ice encrusted mountain Awareness peaks monster infested caves stormy seas and angry gods cannot stop her Perhaps Ulthar and the rest are just ants under the feet of fighting drunkards Orerhaps a hate filled god revels in destruction and Cat Out of Hell pain and causes it however he may I have a confession to make I have cheated a little and also read the original Lovecraft novella in order to make sense of the Vellitt Boe Journey My comments from thisoint on are coloured by the knowledge of the difference between Randolph Carter and Vellitt Boe and of why Kij Johnson felt the neeed to revisit the classic tale The clue is in a small observation made by a Dreamland riest and former travel companion of Vellit Boe This guy makes a snarky remark that women are incapable of big dreams that what they are limited to images of houses flower gardens and smiling children Condescendent much Is it ossible that hate filled god that revels in Mother India pain and destruction is a reference to the tormented and openly racist mysoginistic Lovecraft SPOILER ALERT The answer can be found uite late in the uest by a meeting between Vellitt Boe and Lovecraft s hero Randolph Carter master dreamer adventurer now a king in the Dreamland It appears they have journeyed together even fallen in love when they were both young and thirsty for adventure but then they drifted apart Surprisingly maybe it wasn t Randolph who felt shackled in the relationship but the young girl known then as Veline He had been a man like many so wrapped and rapt in his own story that there was no room for the world around him except as it served his own tale When were women ever anything but footnotes to men s tales Here s the rub the uest for the Unknown Kadath is all takinglace inside the head of Randolph Carter he created the Dreamland the fickle gods and the nightmares It s why the Anglo Saxons were superior to all the other races in the underworld why women are not even once mentioned during the long and eventful journey why all the lesser creatures exist only to serve theur lord and master Ultimately why the original novella feels dated and even uncomfortably racist in The Late Romances places Why a different dreamer may respond to a different call and will search for a different destination at the end of her uestVellitt Boe visits almost all the fantasticlaces that were on the original map of Randolph Carter and than a few new ones She fights creatures of darkness and she marvels at the obsidian and jasper cities of the Dreamland She travels alone and her old bones often complain about the hardships but she never gives up Because her uest is not about her self discovery but about saving the Dreamland about making a world fit for everybody young or old light skinned or dark skinned woman or man Come to think of it Vellitt Boe might change not only the Dreamland but also our own world once she finds the gate to cross over into our reality Because in our reality women are not treated a whole lot better thant in the Dreamlands of the Randolph Carters She could feel it settling about her what this world would expect of a woman her age She fit scarcely naturally here than in her own land I was a fan of Kij Johnson before reading this novella and I was lucky to read it before trying the Lovecraft original because I was able to appreciate the uest on its own merits not only by comparison In my opinion Kij Johnson is clearly the better writer her Passion for Christ, Passion for Humanity prose intensely emotional and intriguing without all the lurid adjectives Lovecraft loved so much But I should also acknowledge the role of Lovecraft as the catalyst as the master dreamer who can still amaze us with the immense scope and unrelenting darkness of his visionI would recommend reading both short novels in whatever orderleases you When a student from the Ulthar Women s College goes missing with her dreaming lover Vellitt Boe journeys across the dreamlands to find a way to the waking world to bring her back With a cat in tow will Vellitt be able to find Clarie JuratGhouls ghasts and gugs oh my The Dream uest of Vellitt Boe is a new spin on HP Lovecraft s The Dream uest of Unknown Kadath with less racism and women It was already on my wish list when it My Curvy Valentine (Perfect Fit, popped up on NetgalleyThe Dream uest of Vellitt Boe is Vellitt Boe s uest across the dreamlands to bring home Clarie Jurat a student at her college Clarie fell in love with a man from the waking world and Vellitt must bring her back before things goear shaped Her odyssey takes her from one end of the dreamlands to the other and eventually to the waking worldI have to say I like what Kij Johnson had done with HP Lovecraft s Dreamlands While the setting is still what Lovecraft created complete with Randolph Carter and assorted horrid creatures she Attainment (Temptation, puts her own stamp on the tale by having a middle aged woman take center stage The writing is way accessible than HP Lovecraft s and reads like Neil Gaiman s Stardust She treats the mythos with respect while expanding upon it and telling her own storyThe only thing I can really complain about is that it wasn t longer and Kij wasn t able to work all of the Dreamlands staples into it 35 out of 5 stars. Uest across the Dreamlands and into her own mysteriousast where some secrets were never meant to surfa.

Kij Johnson is an American writer of fantasy She has worked extensively in publishing managing editor for Tor Books and Wizards of the CoastTSR collections editor for Dark Horse Comics project manager working on the Microsoft Reader and managing editor of Real Networks She is Associate Director for the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas and serves as a fina