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Veniss Underground

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  • Veniss Underground

    This popped up in the link Berry provided in his "Michael Moorcock in the News" thread. I was inspired.

    I'll preface all of my comments by saying that I really like Jeff Vandermeer's work. It never fails to be wise, thought provoking, and compulsively readable. It is often very funny and very sad--sometimes at the same moment. Veniss is no exception.

    The story echoes familiar themes from Orpheus, Dante, Milton and the Bible, but offers a fresh voice to themes of going through Hell for self-discovery, love, and maybe redemption.

    I like most that Vandermeer tells the events through the lenses of three characters and uses each of their voices effectively. Vandermeer gives life to someone tempted by the power of creation, the sister who tries to save him from his Faustian bargain, and especially the man of privilege who may ultimately be both of their saviors. Or perhaps Shadrach is a savior to who he once was and what he wanted to be.

    Central to all three narratives are relationships with the enigmatic Quin, who has changed the world through science. He can alter life, and maybe create it. He is nearly a god, or perhaps nearly the devil in his power over Veniss, which he exercises in his Leviathan home in Veniss Underground.

    Dark, rich, haunting. This stayed with me for awhile because of the characters, but also because of what it suggests about trust, responsibility, and love.