I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.
I’m in many big fandoms, but I’m not in the Star Wars fandom. I’ve never watched the movies. “I’m not really into Sci-Fi, except for time travel,” I say and slink away when people ask me why, just why, have I never watched Star Wars. And the only Sci-Fi books I’ve read are Dean Koontz’s quick reads. When Miriam Seidel reached out to me to request a review of her book with Sci-Fi references, I honestly didn’t except to love it this much!
The Speed of Clouds is a deep dive into fandom at the turn of the new millennium, and the poignant story of one fan’s efforts to find a new way for her to live life on Earth. Mindy Vogel may need a wheelchair to get around, and she may still be living with her mother, but she travels easily between star systems as SkyLog officer Kat Wanderer, while carrying on a romance with a strangely compelling cyborg. And she runs a kickass fanzine. But losing the command of her fan club pushes Mindy out of her cyborg-centered comfort zone, and at the same time her mother’s affair with a sleazy comics dealer threatens her home. Faced with so many disruptions, Mindy must re-imagine her life on Earth. Set at the moment when fandom went digital, this expansive novel finds room for Buckminster Fuller, the Ghost Dance of the Lakota, and cosmic-themed installation art alongside the fanfic, Cons and cosplay of fan culture.
What drew me in when I first read the blurb was the story’s setting–it’s about fandom before the turn of the Millennium. Computers were a thing, but I’m pretty sure fanfiction.net didn’t exist back then. Or did it? I really don’t know. But, without all the online forums and social media we have now, how did fans communicate in the 90s? Well, read The Speed of Clouds to find out!
Mindy Vogel has spina bifida, is wheelchair-bound, and is in the SkyLog fandom. She runs a fanzine and a club, both of which a member of the club usurps. Left in the lurch and also dealing with a tense home situation, this is Mindy’s coming of age story, at the end of the first quarter of her life.
The writing in this book is excellent. It includes excerpts from stories submitted to Mindy’s fanzine and her own fanfic about Kat Wanderer, her Mary Sue. In the first few pages, I was really confused because the fic and the actual story keep alternating. And the fic is all Sci-Fi, which I really don’t care for. Or that’s what I thought. Turns out, I really love Mindy’s fandom. To quote this own book, here’s how the Sci-Fi parts made me feel:
“…like the way a good episode brings up big questions and lets them float around you, her work somehow throws things together that add up to questions, even if they’re not in words.”
Isn’t this why speculative fiction has so many takers? Is there really life outside of Earth? Even if there isn’t, why can’t we pretend that there is in the stories we tell?
Mindy gets A+ for character development. Also getting an A+? The author, for somehow wrapping up fandoms, Buckminster Fuller, art shows, and the Indian Ghost Dance interestingly, all in 268 pages. Read this book if you like coming of age stories, Sci-Fi, and feel good books.
As for me? I’ve learned that speculative fiction can be fun, and it’s okay if all the books I read aren’t about murder, death, and the big bad world.
Rating: 4 out of 5
What did you think of my review? Would you read this book? Are you a Sci-Fi nerd and would you like me to read one of your favorite books? Let me know in the comments!