The Dreaming Jewels

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Dreaming Jewels; The Cosmic Rape; Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon:

Theodore Sturgeon's The Dreaming Jewels


This Book of the Month Club edition contains three unrelated novels by Theodore Sturgeon. The third of them, Venus Plus X, I originally read in a battered used paperback, and I’ve already reviewed it separately.

The Dreaming Jewels (also published elswhere as The Synthetic Man) was Sturgeon’s first novel. Written circa 1950, it is also set in mid-20th-century America, with an emerging substratum of non-human strangeness. “Yet—how many men walked the earth who were not men at all; how many trees, how many rabbits, flowers, amoebae, sea-worms, red-woods, eels and eagles grew and flowered, swam and hunted and stood among their prototypes with none knowing that they were an alien dream, having, apart from the dream, no history?” (181)

The comparisons I found myself making for this story were not to other pieces of science fiction, but rather to the horror genre. Without even engaging any extraterrestrial scenario, Sturgeon manages to evoke a cosmic indifference more effectively than H.P. Lovecraft ever did. And, by way of further contrast, he succeeds in making his characters both more detestable and admirable than any Lovecraftian people. Sturgeon had had plenty of experience in his short fiction at drawing vivid personalities, and it shows in this novel.

There is one element of the plot in the closing pages that I was not able to quite reason out: a happy twist for which I can imagine a justification, but which the text doesn’t seem to square away as well as a reader might desire. The prose throughout is graceful and efficient, and The Dreaming Jewels is a speedy, pleasurable read.

The Cosmic Rape remains on my TBR pile for the time being. [via]



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