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The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


One of NPR's Best Books of 2016 and a Hugo, Nebula, John W. Campbell, and Locus Award finalist for Best Novella

Professor Vellitt Boe teaches at the prestigious Ulthar Women’s College. When one of her most gifted students elopes with a dreamer from the waking world, Vellitt must retrieve her.

"Kij Johnson's haunting novella The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe is both a commentary on a classic H.P. Lovecraft tale and a profound reflection on a woman's life. Vellitt's quest to find a former student who may be the only person who can save her community takes her through a world governed by a seemingly arbitrary dream logic in which she occasionally glimpses an underlying but mysterious order, a world ruled by capricious gods and populated by the creatures of dreams and nightmares. Those familiar with Lovecraft's work will travel through a fantasy landscape infused with Lovecraftian images viewed from another perspective, but even readers unfamiliar with his work will be enthralled by Vellitt's quest. A remarkable accomplishment that repays rereading." —Pamela Sargent, winner of the Nebula Award

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

From Publishers Weekly

Jul 18, 2016 – In Nebula-winner Johnson's (At the Mouth of the River of Bees) absorbing novella, Ulthar Women's College mathematics professor Vellitt Boe, who lives in the land of dreams, must track down Clarie Jurat, a student who seems to have run away with a man who inhabits the waking world. It's important she's found, since her father is a trustee of the college, and this is a scandal that might get women banned from the school. Vellitt sets off across an ever-shifting dreamworld of whimsical, scheming elder gods, treacherous yet wildly beautiful landscapes, and fantastical creatures. As one might guess from the title, Lovecraftian elements abound, such as the black cat that follows Vellitt from Ulthar and rides atop her backpack, as well as bodies of water and cities straight out of the mythos. Vellitt's journey is one of self-realization, courage, and discovery, and she must reconcile the adventurous person she once was with the ordered, unadorned life she now inhabits. Superb worldbuilding and gorgeous prose will hold readers rapt: "In an earlier decade, she would have taken passage on so graceful a ship without regard to destination; she would willingly have sailed off the world's edge in to the abyssal chaos if she could do so cradled among these flowing curves. Beauty, true beauty, had that power." Utterly irresistible.

Customer Reviews

Amazing Adventure in the Dreamlands

Kij Johnson takes the setting of HP Lovecraft’s Dreamlands and uses it to tell a very different sort of story. Vellitt Boe is a formidable woman of middle years. She is a citizen of the Dreamlands, where Leng lies in the cold waste. She was a far traveler in her youth, having adventures all over her strange world, and even in the underworld below it! But she settled down in Ulthar, where she has become a professor of mathematics. Her life has become calm and comfortable.

However, she is called on to perform a quest. One of her best students has fallen in love with a dreamer from the waking world, and has run off with him. She must retrieve this girl before her powerful relatives cause havoc for Ulthar. So with the companionship of a small black cat, she sets out on her mission. It will take her to many fabled places, where some old friends will provide her some assistance. In the end, she travels farther than she ever expected, to places weirder than she ever imagined.

This book is a very modern sort of Lovecraftian tale, where women are the primary characters, and are powerful protagonists indeed. The Dreamlands aren’t the destination in this story, they are where the journey begins. We get to see what the residents of Lovecraft’s worlds lives are like. Kindness and loyalty are repaid and the story ends well for the characters, unlike many of Lovecraft’s tales. This story is almost a mirror image of the typical Lovecraft story, and therefore should be very interesting and satisfying for the readers of today.

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe
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  • $3.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fantasy
  • Published: Aug 16, 2016
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Seller: Macmillan
  • Print Length: 166 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings