The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe - Kij Johnson

I have to admit, though I'd seen recommendations for this book, I'd partly avoided it after having a not-great experience with a previous ebook by this author (formatting issues but also a story I couldn't get into) and then hearing there were elements of Lovecraft involved with it, since I've never read any and am extremely unlikely to in the future. However, as this novella has cropped up as part of this year's Hugo Awards, I thought I'd give it a go anyway and see how I got on. 

 

Our protagonist is a professor in a women's college who discovers that one of her most promising students has run off with a man and who sets off on a long quest to find her and bring her back. This is complicated somewhat by the fact that said student is apparently the granddaughter of a god and if the god wakes and she's gone, the land where Vellitt lives will probably be destroyed. In addition to this, most of the journey is happening in the dreamlands, since the missing student has fled to our world, the so-called 'waking world' with one of its usual residents. 

 

What I really liked about this story were two things in particular. Firstly, Vellitt is clearly no spring chicken and not only has a history with various people she either runs into or needs to help her, she has aches and pains because travelling is hard work. Secondly, less usual for a story of this length, is that it doesn't seem to just stop or really be part of a larger work that the writer hasn't bothered to finish. Both of those tendencies really annoy me in shorter fiction, which needs to be more self-contained in and of itself, I think.