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Publisher's Summary

Severin Unck's father is a famous director of Gothic romances in an alternate 1986 in which talking movies are still a daring innovation due to the patent-hoarding Edison family. Rebelling against her father's films of passion, intrigue, and spirits from beyond, Severin starts making documentaries, traveling through space, and investigating the levitator cults of Neptune and the lawless saloons of Mars. But her latest film, which investigates the disappearance of a diving colony on a watery Venus populated by island-sized alien creatures, will be her last. Severin is a realist in a fantastic universe.

©2015 Catherynne M. Valente (P)2015 Dreamscape Media, LLC

What listeners say about Radiance

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  • Kate
  • 17-11-2015

Unexpected and tons of fun

I bought this audiobook because I'd listened to an interview with the author in which she mentioned that this book had space whales and, well, I'm not about to pass that up.

The book was weirder than I'd expected, theatrical in tone and post modern in theme, the story is told through transcripts and radio announcements, interviews and gossip columns. It constantly and consciously shifts in tone, from a noir detective story to gothic horror and more, as characters argue over what, exactly, the story is. All of this makes sense of course, since they're all movie folks and a woman has disappeared without a trace.

All of this can make the audiobook hard to follow at times, but the narrator is really good, with a fittingly theatrical, smooth voice and, when he switches up tone to suit a genre, there's an entirely new level of humor that I don't think you'd get from reading the book.

So, recommended! Just focus on the space whales and you should be fine!

13 people found this helpful

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  • katherine shabell
  • 18-05-2019

Haunting and evocative. A cinematic love letter.

Adore this book. The physical book haunted me so much (in a good way) afterwards I had to get the audio book.
It is narrated by the authors significant other, who participated a lot (according to author note and thank yous) in the writing of this book, I can be confident in that he pronounces all names as the author intended them to sound. This is the next best thing (a very very close second) to an author doing their own narration. His voices are unique enough to be memorable and he handles the strange amalgam of accents people in that parallel universe have...
The world created by the author drew me in, I was enchanted, disturbed, and moved, all in the very best sense of the terms. I only wish that she would write more novels in this universe she has made.. Ten, a hundred, a thousand novels! I'd read each one and sit eagerly awaiting the next.
A perfect novel, and a perfect audio book. Well worth the credit, or even purchase.

2 people found this helpful

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  • G. Parish
  • 01-01-2016

A Failed Illusion

I'm going to have to give this review in three parts because, whatever else this book is, it is full of extremes.
The first thing I will mention is the writing. The author does a great, one might even say beautifully lush job, of describing the world and sensations the characters experience in it. The language is a delight to the senses and a clever joy to the mind.
The second part is the narrator. I'm not sure how, but they managed to find the perfect narrator for this one. I believe he could read recipes from a cookbook and make them sound intensely interesting. Pairing this narrator with a narrative that is so gorgeously sensual is a master stroke.
The third part is the story, which is separate from the writing. Unlike the writing, which dances through your mind with an almost hypnotic grace, the story was ripped into shreds and scattered about in order to hide its flaws. Let's disguise fiction as reality, throw in some opium generated sequences, combine them with a huge helping of Dues ex Machina and see if we can misdirect the readers attention away from the fact that the core story was likely written by a child on a sugar high. It isn't simply the fact it lacks any attempt at cohesion or even the fact it actively changes the story as you listen, yet one cannot ignore that even the author in attempt to finally come up with an ending that, in some vague fashion, has a prayer of making sense, throws up her hands and literally has cartoon characters explain things to the reader. The explanation is simplistic and made as if to children, which is about complexity of the entire drug induced hallucination.
At the end if the day I would say if you delight in language and the complex joys one can derive from it, then get this one. If, however, you want a story worthy of your time steer well clear of this one. There are better fish in the Venusian sea.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Eric W. Wallace
  • 06-08-2018

A love letter to cinema, to style, to story...

It took me some time to settle in to this book, to begin understanding it. That’s okay, because the book takes its time to savor, and soon I was just basking in the enjoyment, and I couldn’t wait for my daily commute so I could hear more.

Miller’s voice is a pleasure to listen too, and the various voices and accents of the characters are great. And of course Cat’s storytelling is a delight.

Highly recommended for when you have the time to drink it all in.

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  • Nicole S.
  • 31-05-2018

Beautiful, Strange, Fascinating, But No Plot.

Loved this narrator, loved the beautiful descriptive/perceptive words, loved the mood of the book. The only thing that I did not like was that this book basically has no plot. It's filled with captivating emotions and images, but I had trouble connecting without a strong plot or pace.

1 person found this helpful

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  • laney
  • 08-01-2017

Kind of an elegant story - beautifully written.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This is a great read for someone who likes story and characters.

Any additional comments?

This book blends the air and feel of early Hollywood with an expansive take on science fiction.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Josephine Albrektsen
  • 26-03-2016

Mindblowing

I really enjoyed this book through and through. The only negative thing might be that I found it a bit difficult to follow as an audiobook because of a lot of listing that happens quite frequently throughout the entire book. However, the story is enchanting, imaginative and inspiring, and quite frankly very original in my personal opinion. It left me mind blown and I will definitely recommend it to anyone that might be interested in stories featuring alternative history, fantasy and picturesque description. I am already wanting to hear it again!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Myrddin
  • 07-09-2016

Not sure what was going on.

The first audio book I couldn't finish. It might have something to do with how I listened, but I couldn't keep track of anything. This may work better in print form. There was a story and world/universe I would like to explore but is probably going to have to be in a different medium.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jeff Thomas
  • 08-12-2015

Stellar performance of a stunning new classic

Not a mere read, but a stellar aural performance of a stunningly well written epic of imagination and solar system building. Such great fun, too!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kenna
  • 23-12-2020

Valente needs an editor, not a thesaurus.

I realize she's trying to catch a linguistic pattern common in Golden Age Hollywood, but it's so exaggerated - every character is overly descriptive and unable to use anything but overwrought, complex-compound sentences - that the writing sounds like a fangirl affectation. I have read some of her other work, and the concept for this novel is definitely interesting, but Valente is suffering for want of a line editor. There is a kind of gospel in the effective short sentence. Every good writer knows that.

The performance is alright, I suppose? But it is nearly impossible to discern when our POV has shifted (this is partially because, as I said, every character is written in the same way). If you're going to subject yourself to this, read rather than listen. Otherwise, you'll spend half your day rewinding to figure out who's talking and whether we're in a scene or a diary entry or a list of things.

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  • blueridinghood
  • 08-08-2016

Loved the story, hated the voice actor

Maybe the guy is nice in real life, but he sounded so pretentious and monotonous. Honestly you'd be better off reading the beautiful book yourself then listening to this one.

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