Aurorarama by Jean-Christophe Valtat

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A seductive and shockingly inventive literary thriller that entwines suspense, history, the supernatural, adventure, steampunk, and a wicked sense of adventure into an intoxicating new genre.


New Venice--the “pearl of the Arctic”--is a place of ice palaces and pneumatic tubes, of beautifully ornate sled-gondolas and elegant Victorian garb, of long nights and short days and endless vistas of crystalline ice. But as the city prepares for spring, it feels more like qarrtsiluni-- “the time when something is about to explode in the dark.”

Local “poletics” are wracked by tensions between the city’s security forces--the Subtle Army--and the Eskimos who were there first; by suffragette riots led by an underground music star; and by drug round-ups led by the ruthless secret police force known as the Gentlemen of the Night. 

Meanwhile, a mysterious and ominous black airship hovers over the city like a supernatural threat--is New Venice about to come under assault, or is it another government ploy?

At the root of it all is an anonymous pamphlet calling for revolt, which the Gentlemen suspect was written by one of the city’s most prominent figures, Brentford Orsini. But as they tighten the net around him, Orsini receives a message from a long-lost love that compels him to radical action.

About Jean-Christophe Valtat

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Jean-Christophe Valtat was educated at the École Normale Supérieure and the Sorbonne. He is the author of three acclaimed books of literary fiction: Album, a collection of short stories, and the novels Exes and O3, the last of which was recently translated into English and published in the United States by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. Aurorarama is his first book written in English. Valtat also wrote and co-directed the movie Augustine. He lives in Paris.From the Hardcover edition.

Author Residence: Paris, France
Published August 31, 2010 by Melville House. 434 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Education & Reference, Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Aurorarama

Book Forum

This surrealism is largely what distinguishes Aurorarama from standard-issue steampunk, especially in the novel's sophisticated, almost encyclopedic plotting of New Venice.

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Strange Horizons

The reason the Victorians did not invent computing and space travel is not that they happened not to get around to it, and not that mere chance got in the way;

Jun 24 2011 | Read Full Review of Aurorarama

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