[Book Review] Dreams Before the Start of Time by Anne Charnock

For seekers of a quiet future–away from watching the US government antagonize and bomb other places to bits–Anne Charnock’s latest novel brings a kind of serenity to near future Western life by focusing on the not-so-nuclear… family. In three parts, from 2034 to 2084 to 2120, Dreams Before the Start of Time examines on-the-horizon socio-industrial advances and their implications on some of the most important parts of daily life: romance, family, and childbearing.

LOVE the cover! Throwback colors, gender neutral design, and quite SF-y.

Picking up from her previous novel, the subtle and smoldering Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind, the Toni strand (my favorite strand) continues its trajectory into the next century, as we get to see Toni the teen emerge into adulthood as she encounters ever-evolving approaches to family systems. Cushioned by semi-connected, tangential stories of family, friends, and barley-linked strangers as they pursue various gestational options, Toni’s life is the guidepost for the story, but far from being the only thing going on. Continue reading

SF of 2015: Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind by Anne Charnock

SleepingEmbersofanOrdinaryMindWith a title that recalls Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), but with a structural concept that’s more reminiscent of the Mrs. Dalloway-inspired novel, The Hours (1998), Anne Charnock’s latest employs a layered, parallel structure that follows three generations of women whose divergent lives converge at the presence and suppression of art, addressing the erasure of female artists from historical memory. A low burn, yet smolderingly feminist, Sleeping Embers highlights the progress of change in women’s lives over the centuries, as well as the hidden corners of stagnation.

The central narrative is that of Antonia Uccello, the real-life daughter of renowned Renaissance painter Paolo Uccello. Antonia is an artist herself, though we only know that by the occupation listed on her death certificate, as none of Antonia’s works have been discovered to this day. Charnock takes advantage of this lack of information about Antonia’s life to fictionalize her story and to advance her argument about the willing social neglect of women artists—and women, in general. Continue reading