|Submitted by Kseniya Shabanova |
(Feb 15, 2004)
Oh, weirdness incarnate! I *love* this woman! Sheesh... and I thought Wraeththu was an experience!
Calenture is like nothing else and like a whole lot of things: an exotic dream, a drugged-up trip, a philosopher's dissertation in the key of "I think, therefore I am," a rabbit hole complete with its Alice, times three. It's existential, it's entertaining, it's just plain odd. Wonderful. And it has the greatest conclusion I've ever read. It's both absolutely predictable and absolutely unexpected and entirely satisfying. It brings everything into focus like the snap of Storm's magical fingers.
The plot... Well, there's a man named Casmeer, who lives in a city in the mountains, far from any other settlements, if such exist. It's sort of an island of civilization. The civilization has a little problem: every person in the city has crystallized - turned into crystal statues. All except Casmeer, who's been living all alone for over four hundred years, protecting what remains of the others from being dismembered by bird-monkeys that like shiny things.
Casmeer's been writing a history of the city and its people. He has been entertaining himself in this fashion, but he is starting to feel the weight of the years and wants to try something new. He starts writing a fiction, trying to guess at what life is like elsewhere.
There is a flatland surrounded by the mountains. The flatlands are inhabited by floating, crawling, flying cities. Each city is its own world, dramatically weird. Casmeer invents two characters, Ays and Finnigin, and sends them on rather pointless journeys to find mysterious somethings. A mysterious stranger follows them and helps them along - or not. The stranger is Casmeer's fictional representation of himself, but then so are Ays and Finnigin.
The story alternates between Casmeer's diary and the fictional stories of Ays and Finnigin. The lines between reality and creativity blur. A collection of the most ridiculously random events accumulates with no point in sight and the more you read, the more you see some weird sort of sense in it all. You know, for a fact, that it's all going somewhere. It's like the proverbial big picture floating just beyond your range of vision. Then - BOOM! A conclusion that brings things together in the most mind-boggling way. It's amazing!
This book is a journey and an experience and I cannot recommend it enough to anyone. It would be cruel to deprive yourself of this. It's too unique.