Book Reviews

The Speed of Clouds by Miriam Seidel

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!

Goodreads synopsis:

36697311The 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.

Review:

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!

 

~ Shruti

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26 thoughts on “The Speed of Clouds by Miriam Seidel

  1. I really appreciate how open you were to Science Fiction, despite not being a fan. I love when people read outside of their comfort zones because they always discover something new and it shows in your review. That’s lovely! As for the book itself, I haven’t read it but it reminded me of Fangirl since it alternates between fanfiction and her story. Also, I’m glad of seeing wheelchair users being represented 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks so much, Esther! I’m really glad I read this book, because it’s simply brilliant. It IS a little like Fangirl! And I liked the fics here even more than Simon and Baz! I hope the author’s next book is just about SkyLog. That would be amazing. xD

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Definitely sounds interesting! I LOVE sci-fi, and this is going down in my TBR list. Immediately. Your review has convinced me. 😀
    . . . WAIT, did you just say you’ve NEVER watched Star Wars? EVER? You TOTALLY should watch it! This comes right below HP for me!😀😄

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Done! I finished making my account (the fact that I was on my laptop right now instead of mum’s phone speeded up the process ; )
        But I can’t find you on goodreads (correction: there are way too many Shrutis there, and I dunno which one is you).

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m not a fan of sci-fi so I rarely do read these books. I do love “broken” or “flawed” heroes though as well as coming of age stories and feel good books so the answer is … maybe I will read it 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This sounds great – and yes… I’m a HUGE fan of sci fi, so this one sounds great. Right now, I have rather a lot to get through – but I do love the premise. Lots of readers don’t think they like sci fi, because they are thinking in terms of films and TV programmes – but so much written sci fi is much smarter and slicker than the rather lazy, over-used tropes used in the televised versions:). Thank you for a great review, Shruti:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. SARAH, SARAH, SARAH! So I thought of you (and two other bloggers) once I finished reading this book. I know that you guys love Sci-fi and I wanted to tell you all about it. xD And I get that sci-fi is much smarter than the televised versions. I’ve read some books by Dean Koontz and one or two ARCs (that I liked, surprisingly), but that’s about it. I’m gonna try The Martian sometime this year, though. 😊

      And, and, I LOVE time travel. There’s this new Netflix tv show, Dark, that you should totally check out. It’s German but it’s dubbed in English. I think you’ll like it! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You might find you like Artemis even more than The Martian, as there is less science stuff and still plenty of excitement and tension.
        Dark sounds like just up my street – sadly we don’t have Netflix. But I will keep an eye out – we do have Sky, so it might crop up – thank you for the recommendation:)). And I will certainly keep an eye out for The Speed of Clouds!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I can read some scifi as long as it isn’t too technical or full of too many battles. To enjoy it I need a balance between the new unimaginable elements and what is believable, quite hard to achieve if it asks me to put aside my set beliefs and trust in something new.
    I like the TV show Stargate as I enjoy the link to the ancient Egyptians, so was pleased to see that there are books now with more/ new tales from the series.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ooh, this book actually sounds quite interesting! I’m like you, I’m not a huge fan of sci-fi… I’ve been reading a bit more of it lately, but… still not that much. However, I really love anything that talks about fandoms, because relatable. (And I also totally haven’t watched star wars… I get you!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay, Iris, I’m glad there are more people like me out there. It was the fandom part that drew me in, and the sci-fi bits made me stay. (Wait, why didn’t I put this line in my review? 🙈) Haha. We should try watching Star Wars sometime! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This was such a great review, I’m definitely keen on checking out the book now! Quite honestly, sci-fi isn’t really my thing either, even though I’m a huge Star Wars fan (a must-watch, by the way!). However, reading your review, I think I’ll give it a try.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I really like sci-fi and I love Star Wars but don’t worry, I’m not going to get on your case for not having watched them! Not everyone needs to. What really interested me in this book is that we have a main character in a wheelchair. I’m always looking for physically disabled rep in books and it can be so hard to find. I also really like the sound of such good character development. This might be one for me!

    Liked by 1 person

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