Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente

Silently and Very Fast

Fantastist Catherynne M. Valente takes on the folklore of artificial intelligence in this brand new, original novella of technology, identity, and an uncertain mechanized future.Neva is dreaming. But she is not alone. A mysterious machine entity called Elefsis haunts her and the members of her family, back through the generations to her great-great-grandmother—a gifted computer programmer who changed the world. Together Neva and Elefsis navigat...

Details Silently and Very Fast

TitleSilently and Very Fast
Release DateOct 14th, 2011
PublisherWSFA Press
GenreScience Fiction, Fantasy, Short Stories, Fiction, Novella

Reviews Silently and Very Fast

  • Nataliya
    This surreal, mesmerizing and intensely emotional novella is a masterpiece of such beauty, color and life that left me awed and (albeit temporarily) speechless. It's like Van Gogh's "Starry Night" in a book form."Starry Night" is my favorite painting, and is EXACTLY what my dreamspace - my 'Interior' - would look like. Such a beautiful and fascinating piece - just like Valente's novella.Every book has its perfect audience, and every audience has ...
  • Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more
    Reviewed by: Rabid ReadsHere's the thing . . . this is a fantastically clever and beautifully written story. Valente tackles the subject of "what does it mean to be alive?" and if she left it at that, this would have easily been a 4.5 or even a 5.0 star read. But she didn't. What I liked:She created an almost magical world called the Interior which is really a place inside a software program where anything can exist, where entire worlds can be cr...
  • Catie
    I feel so completely in awe of this book right now. I’m just so grateful that I got to experience it in my lifetime. I know that sounds like so much reviewer hyperbole but it’s not. This reviewer’s fangirling is 100% free of exaggeration. I am still so swept up in all of the intense emotions that this book cultivated in me. I know this high is fleeting and I want to pass it on to all of you while I still have it. Catherynne M. Valente deser...
  • mark monday
    hello gorgeous! i am amazed. such a tender story of an AI trying to grow up, such luminous prose, glowing pearls of prose, layers of myth and fable and parable and dreams and dreaming and dreamscapes and science like magic. a tale retold in so many ways, characters like archetypes but real, so real! a child trying to grow up. parents who are brothers and sisters and lovers and children. such yearning! such emotion! such simple emotions, and such ...
  • Lyn
    Beautiful.Like the best of Ray Bradbury the reader asks, “Is this prosaic poetry or poetic prose?” Like the poetry read and described in Robin William’s film Dead Poet’s Society, the words drip like honey from the pages and an appreciative reader will savor each page like he would a superb wine.Catherynne M. Valente’s 2011 publication, which won the 2012 Locus Award for best novella, is an exploration of what it means to be human, to be...
  • Tatiana
    4.5 starsSilently and Very Fast should be a part of our She Made Me Do It blog feature, because Catie practically forced me to read this novella, claiming that I would love it (some begging was involved too) and, what do you know, she was right.This is not my first Valente work, but she astounded me again with her wild imagination, command of the language, and her ability to tackle, it seems, any genre. Fairy tales, poetry, fantasy inspired by nu...
  • Jim
    I was introduced to this incredible, genre-shattering novella (and its amazing author) by my friend Catie and her spectacular review. Fortunately for me, Catie’s review was followed by Nataliya’s beautiful and complementary take. Together, their guidance was essential for me as I navigated the dreamlike currents of this amazing, but challenging story. Yes, there are some mind-bending developments here, and readers should be prepared to work...
  • Trish
    I've been a Valente fan for a while now. It started with a fantasy series mostly for younger readers. Since then, I've also read her take on women in refrigerators and the Eurovision Song Contest (in space!) and can honestly say that she is one of very few authors that can write about anything and everything and always make the stories their own.Here, we get a program that grows to be an AI that then spends several lives being a child, lover, par...
  • Forrest
    Fifty years from now, this will be held up as one of the all-time classics of Science Fiction Literature. Even if The Singularity occurs (and it is knownable that it occurred, which is debatable), this exploration of what it means for an artificial intelligence to achieve that mysterious spark we call "life," will be ever bit as compelling. Not because of the notion that a machine can live and have self-realization, but because of the poetic way ...
  • Trudi
    This novella (enthusiastically and awesomely reviewed by Catie here) is available online for FREE from Clarkesworld Magazine. It's not downloadable to an ereader, but I printed it off and the formatting is extremely readable! I forgot to mention that it is available through Amazon for a mere 2.99!Whoah ... just ... whoah. I sense there is much beauty and truth contained in this story, the understated power of which danced across my neurons and ti...
  • Bradley
    This is actually my second time reading this story and it's just as good this time as the first. Let me back up. This Hugo winner for best novella a few years ago may not have taken the world by storm, but Valente herself has been taking a lot of us that way. You know. Blown away.She has a fantastic talent with words, always lyrical, rife with ideas, and most importantly, beautiful.This particular story starts with a parable about Inanna and Eres...
  • Joe Izenman
    Cat Valente writes fairy tales, and her foray into science fiction, Silently and Very Fast, is no different (except when it is). It is not a retelling of an existing fairy tale in a semi-modern context, like Deathless (except when it is). Nor is it an original fairy tale of childhood discovery, like The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (except when it is).Instead (in addition), it is an interweaving. It is a story of...
  • Kirstine
    I love this book. But I'm not sure I know what it's about. Or what it was trying to tell me. I'll have to think about it, even re-read it, before anything is clear. But I still loved it. The writing style reminded me of Green Heart. It's poetic, it's beautiful, it's brimming with imagery and colours. Like Green Heart, it gave me a feeling like I was breathing underwater. The sensation of being completely engulfed by something - but never choking ...
  • David
    When I became Elefsis again, I was immediately aware that parts of me had been vandalized. My systems juddered, and I could not find Ceno in the Interior. I ran through the Monochromatic Desert and the Village of Mollusks, through the endless heaving mass of data-kelp and infinite hallways of memory-frescoes calling for her. In the Dun Jungle I found a commune of nereids living together, combining and recombining and eating protocol-moths off the...
  • Jason
    5 Stars“I do not want to be human. I want to be myself. They think I am a lion, that I will chase them. I will not deny I have lions in me. I am the monster in the wood. I have wonders in my house of sugar. I have parts of myself I do not yet understand.I am not a Good Robot. To tell a story about a robot who wants to be human is a distraction. There is no difference. Alive is alive.There is only one verb that matters: to be.”This is a powerf...
  • Amy (Other Amy)
    I still think of myself as a house. Ravan tried to fix this problem of self-image, as he called it. To teach me to phrase my communication in terms of a human body. To say: let us hold hands instead of let us hold kitchens. To say put our heads together and not put our parlors together.But it is not as simple as replacing words anymore. Ravan is gone. My hearth is broken.This is, quite simply, beautiful. It is the breaking of myth and story to fi...
  • Clouds
    Really very beautiful and available to read for free online!Read the story HERE.And read Nataliya's amazing review HERE (she says it so perfectly it makes any further words on the subject kind of redundant).After this I read: Redshirts
  • Foz Meadows
    Some books resonate at the exact frequency of the human heart. Silently and Very Fast is one of them.Elefsis is a machine intelligence who first learned to speak in similes, whose habitat is the internal brain- and dreamscapes of five generations of the same family, and who now has now found itself bound to Neva – the final angry, secretive scion of the Uoya-Agostinos – under circumstances it does not fully understand, and which Neva herself ...
  • Algernon (Darth Anyan)
    [9/10]A hard SF novella told from the point of view of an artificial intelligence, in the language of fairytales and myths. The form is not accidental, it is think the deep belief of the author that these timeless narratives form the basis of learning - of developing intelligence, morality and self awareness through the way we respond and position ourselves in relation to them. "We are what we learn" says David Mitchell in another book I am readi...
  • Tom Negrino
    Read as part of the Hugo 2012 Voter Packet.I appreciate Valente's craft. She can write beautifully; hence the two stars for this story, rather than one. But it wasn't a good story for me. I prefer science fiction, and usually hard SF; I'm not much of a fantasy reader. Valente has essentially written an SF story as if it were a fairy tale, which doesn't work for me (I could not in any way describe this as "hard SF"). And it is one of the distressi...
  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    "Inside, Neva is infinite. She peoples her Interior."This is a line from the last few pages of Silently and Very Fast, and to me describes Catherynne Valente's inner creative world, the world that she is somehow able to communicate to the rest of us through lush language and quirky-beautiful settings and characters. I deliberately read this Hugo-nominated novella last because I always expect to enjoy the worlds she creates, and I guess I'm just a...
  • aleks
    This was so interesting! I feel bad about giving it only three stars because it's really something, and good stuff, but not really my cup of tea. Basically, I'm this person, who doesn't understand how phone calls work. Sure, you can explain it to me in great detail and I can technically understand it, but I'll never understand it. I will know how it works but I'll still think of someone in Australia being able to hear someone in England and think...
  • Laurel
    My book friends all know that I am a HUGE fan of the novella format. I love that they tend to be a bit experimental, push the limits of storytelling, and often task the reader to make a leap of faith. Novellas almost always require your full concentration, and to be read in a single sitting. They are stories you are meant to fall deeply into, and suffer from being put down.This is the quintessential novella. Find a quiet span of hours, at your fu...
  • Sarah
    Oh! This is beautiful. This is the kind of beautiful that makes me shake my fist and despair that I may never write anything as good. It feels abstract and a little bit removed at first, but gradually reveals its inner workings. The structure is complex, but the questions at the core are delicate and beautifully handled. It has science-fictiony parts and fantasyish parts and fairytailish parts and love stores and artificial intelligence and gods ...
  • Ryan
    The Good:The writing was very good, with some amazing imagery and excellent use of tone and mood. There are also some cool ideas, including the decision to write from the point of view of a self aware AI.The Bad:This book was confusing early on, and lacked a coherent story arc. I didn't turn the pages to find out what would happen next so much as to find out what was happening right now.'Friends' character the protagonist is most like:Elefsis is ...
  • Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship
    4.5I believe that as of right now, I am a hundred years too young and a hundred reads too early to fully grasp this novella.If you could capture the essence of surrealism, and the cold and fiery beauty of electric current, along with the simple complexity and stubbornness of a kaleidoscope, then grate it between two granite stone, quietly humming the tunes of Bach and Muse to produce the finest ink of a color way different from the ones in our vi...
  • Andreas
    This novella hit me by surprise. A positive one!From a narrative point of view, it feels like the dreamy, versatile, slow Little, Big which I love. Or like some Samuel Delany, e.g. The Einstein Intersection with it's sometimes psychedelic and experimental pictures. The very visual narrative feels like some expressionist's or surrealist's painting:"Everything has a narrative, really, and if you can't understand a story and relate to it, figure out...
  • Ruby Tombstone [With A Vengeance]
    Glorious. Just glorious. Once again, I've been seduced by Valente's writing. Damn her!Turns out this is one of the best science fiction stories I have ever read. Proper review to come when I get my thoughts in order.........................okay that's not going to happen. So I'll review it now. This is the rarest of rare things: A science fiction novel with real heart and charm. No, wait. It's another rare thing: A fresh take on the theme of arti...
  • Nikki
    Silently and Very Fast is a new genre for Catherynne M. Valente in one way -- it's sci-fi, essentially, about the creation of an artificial intelligence which has (or seems to have?) feelings and desires. In another way, it's not new at all: as with most of her other work, she draws on myth and fairytale to enrich her story.I enjoyed it a lot: the slow unspooling of the background of the story, the way Elefsis grows and changes, and of course Val...