Gentleman, scholar, and author Jean-Christophe Valtat will be among our many honored and distinguished guests this year. Author of two novels, a collection of short stories, several radio-plays, and a movie – AND the recipient of many awards – he is also a professor of Comparative Literature at Universite Blaise Pascal in France.
His newest novel, Aurorarama, takes place in New Venice – a fictitious luxury city located in the frozen Northern seas. As spring arrives, the city is wracked by tension – suffragette demonstrations, drug round-ups by mysterious police thugs (known as “The Gentlemen of the Night”), and suspicious activity from the native Inuit groups come together to create a masterful mix of dark prose, humor, and suspense.
Jeff’s about halfway through Aurorarama now, and notes, “I think Americans will make the inevitable Jules Verne comparisons, and I wouldn’t disagree, but there’s a real dose of mystery in there that’s somewhere between Poe, Lovecraft, and John LeCarre”. When asked if he could describe the book without resorting to comparisons between long-dead authors, Jeff pointed out that LeCarre is totally still alive. When asked for further details, Jeff said, “Actually, as arctic novels go, this beats Verne’s ‘An Antarctic Mystery’ all toe heck, frankly.” We then told Jeff to go to bed.
Valtat’s previous novel, 03, was noted as “One of the Best Books of 2010.” His short essay, “In Defense of Steampunk,” argues that the genres provides a unique lens to explore and contrast both historical and current social ills.
We believe Monsieur Valmat is, in fact, going to be coming to our absinthe tasting. That’s right: drink absinthe with brilliant French novelists! ’Cause that’s how we do things at The Steampunk World’s Fair.