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I would imagine some readers might find some allusions distracting, as occasionally one feels that a reference is being made to some real-world artist in a coded way, leaving a nagging sense of incompleteness if one does not have the key to the code. Crucially, Venera Dreams never feels like pastiche.
It wears its influences on its sleeve, but uses those influences to create something distinctive. Like a dream, story elements that seem familiar or even well-worn become reinvested with strangeness and significance. Frequently associated with that strangeness is an overt sexuality. Sex in Venera Dreams comes in many forms, and usually explicit ones. More prosaically, they become aspects of narrative, sources of character motivation, of drive.
We see characters be changed in many ways as they pass into a subterranean world and explore mysteries far under the surface. Venera becomes a new world, an experience into which outsiders must be carefully inducted. Many of the visitors and would-be immigrants we meet in the first part of the book are isolated, deprived of their usual social matrix by choice or circumstances; Venera is the next stage of their life, that comes only after abandoning the old everyday world. It comes only to seekers, and it is a kind of revelation. Even the inhabitants of the place are aware of it as a secret, as a special location.
Venera Dreams gives us both dreams about the city, and also a demonstration of how and what Venera is dreaming. The spice vermilion, often taken in wine, inspires dreams. Goddesses inspire vision.
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The book is about inspiration and the seeking of inspiration; about desire for sex, for art, for transformation, for what is beyond the world as it is. It is weird and it is entertaining. To me, it is a success. You can buy his first collection of essays, looking at some fantasy novels of the twenty-first century, here. Booktopia has you covered, with over half a million books online to choose from, you're bound to find your next favourite novel. Take your pick from prize-winning literature, popular children's fiction, classic crime, fantasy fiction, the best romance novels, great Australian fiction, contemporary fiction and so much more.
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