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The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps

4/5. A strange, rather inexplicable short short novel about a trade caravan passing through a jungle where, if you leave the path, you could end up in another time or another universe.

Which is only the palest description of this weird, frustrating book. It's a queer love story whose queerness is part in gender, part in the alienness of the protagonists with their "godlike" heritage. It's an exercise in code-switching from the trappings of epic fantasy to a very specific kind of scientific discourse to a range of equally specific dialects, most particularly African-American slang. It's playful and deliberately dislocating – there's this great joke that Wilson plays where the reader is caught out with all of their startled attention on the word "nigga" in a sentence, while the narrative lays attention on a completely different word. It plays games like that with language and the code-switching, and it is beautiful and playful and interesting.

Reviewers have said this is a novella questioning the underpinnings of traditional fantasy – its whiteness in a linguistic and cultural sense. I think that's right, but I also think there's a broader genre playfulness going on here. If you go off the path, who knows where you could end up, and this book goes way off the path.

And it ends ambiguously in exactly the way that I hate, but I'll let it go this time because this was otherwise such a unique trip.

Date: 2017-03-06 02:25 pm (UTC)
yunitsa: Sexby and Angelica from The Devil's Whore; 17th c. woman in dark cloak with man in hat behind her (Default)
From: [personal profile] yunitsa
I haven't read this one yet, but I bought it after reading Wilson's "A Taste of Honey", which is set in the same world - it's also a novella, and a queer love story, and very odd and beautiful and frustrating, with a big twist at the end: I kept wanting it to go into more detail explaining the science-y worldbuilding, but then that didn't seem to be what it was actually interested in at all. I'll love to hear your take on that one at some point!

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