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The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew by Catherynne M. Valente

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"The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew" is a 2009 science fiction short story by Catherynne M. Valente. It is about a famous Documentarian who goes to Venus to film strange, sea-dwelling life forms.

Hauntingly Beautiful

It wasn’t until after I read this story that I learned the author spoke a couple of ancient languages. That makes sense. Not that any of those languages are used in this story, but it is easy to see the author’s love of language and how it can be used to create exquisite imagery. Yes, this story is eerily beautiful, and the writing is pretty darn amazing. I even had to stop a few times and re-read a sentence or two, just to make sure I got the full gist of what was going on. Some may call that confused writing, but it didn’t feel like it. This is a very cool story, but it takes a moment to piece together what has happened. It’s worth it though – just stick with it and you’ll be rewarded!

Non-spoiler Summary in a Nutshell

Humpback Whale by mikebaird, CC 2.0 License

Bysshe is the famous daughter of a famous movie director. After her acting debut as a little girl, she decides that making documentaries is a more noble profession. Her films become all the rage as they pack theaters and make fortunes for producers, theater owners and vendors alike. As she grows older she uses her steam-punk-ish technology to travel to other planets in our solar system and film the strange things she finds there. When her latest and greatest documentary about a disappearing village on Venus ends differently than hoped for her reputation reaches martyr-like proportions. But there is one person whose life is truly touched by her efforts.

Interesting Tidbits About This Story:

  • Page Count: 10
  • Word Count: 4,313
  • "The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew" placed 1st in the 2009 Clarkesworld Reader’s Poll for best Short Fiction.
  • Did you know that Catherynne M. Valente received a B.A. in Classics with an emphasis in Ancient Greek Linguistics? Yep. You can learn more about this fascinating author at her website.

Where You Can Find The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew:

  • This story was first published in August 2009 in Clarkesworld Magazine – where you can still read it for free.

Craving More Science Fiction Short Stories?

If you liked "The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew" then you will probably also enjoy “The Film-makers of Mars” by Geoff Ryman – about a film journalist who views an outstanding 1911 silent movie and learns its amazing secret.

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