That is one peculiar fucking book.
You get the strong feeling that Bruce sat down one day and said, “A Paranormal Romance. People like those. How can I tear down the term ‘Paranormal Romance’ until it a) turns into something I would like to write b) makes people who like Paranormal Romances cry blood?”
Bruce likes breaking things in his fiction. I often see things his characters love getting ruined somehow. It’s hard to think of anyone else who enjoys the casual harrowing of his characters so much.
It is a romance. Bruce does in fact have fun playing with old romance-fiction tropes. There are points where you can almost hear him cackling as he rattles around a LOVE BOAT port of call and scatters poison romances across the sun-kissed trattorias and streets. There is the paranormal: or, at least, people who think they’re paranormal, and people who call each other paranormal. It’s also, to some extent, about the delusions around these things. The female romantic lead is a loon, the male romantic lead is a Silicon Canal alpha-drone, the supporting cast are grotesques and I’ll be surprised if Mr Sterling is ever again invited to a European futurism conference.
“Go to your Futurist Congress,” said Farfalla. “They are expecting you there. Your important friends will take good care of you. Nothing will happen to you there. Nothing ever happens when important people talk about the future.”
Bruce enjoyably tours the world with his romantic monsters, gleefully showing up the sooty old structures of the romance form while cracking its floorboards with brazen hodloads of science and politics. It’s a weird, lumpy, sometimes uncomfortable comedy about shitty people. It is the best and only romance novel you should read this year. It is fun and evil.
But it really is a peculiar fucking book.
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