Pungently sensual, Claude Lalumiere
's Venera Dreams: A Weird Entertainment
, 2017), is a carnal carnival ride, circling around the central conceit. There's a city-state by the name of Venera, a place where an opium-like drug called vermillion grows. Lalumiere's work is reminiscent of the French poet, Rimbaud, who write in his poem Larme, "What did I draw from the gourd of the wine? Some golden liquor, pale, which causes sweating."
The novel consists of a collection of stories, linked by people's experiences of Venera and its inhabitants. The stories are visceral, intense, and tinged with melancholy. Though almost uniformly erotic, the sexual configurations rarely seem based on romance or love, although love is alluded to. Instead there is an almost reflexive instinct in the various protagonists to give themselves over to their appetites. The regular values of a bourgeois society---the accumulation of property, the maintenance of family, the adherence to tradition---are so absent as motivation for any of the drifting travelers, that it's noticeable. This is indeed a strange tribe, united only by their occult, amorous, and sometimes terrible experiences in Venera or at the hands of Venerans.
An interval piece, describing fantasy writers' conventions, recalls Hunter S. Thompson, now swallowed into the looking glass all together. Lalumiere can be sardonic about the world of fantasy writers, and their work.
Does writing describe reality, or is it an ephemeral collection of impressions? Through reading about a series of bewildering and erotically charged encounters, we ourselves are challenged to find out the truth about Venera.
Gabrielle Mathieu is the author of the historical fantasy Falcon series (
The Falcon Flies Alone, and the upcoming
The Falcon Strikes.) She blogs about travel and her books at http://gabriellemathieu.com/.
You can also follow her on Twitter to get updates about new podcasts and more: @GabrielleAuthor.