The “sensuous and evocative” debut of the Nebula Award–winning author of Waking the Moon: A dystopian journey through a world unburdened by moral taboos (Library Journal).
Set in the surreal, post-apocalyptic City of Trees, Winterlong centers on Wendy Wanders, a girl who can tap into the dreams and emotions of the people around her, and her long-lost twin brother, Raphael, a seductive, sacred courtesan to the City’s decadent elite. During their voyage, they encounter man-made and godlike monstrosities—both hideous and gorgeous—in their effort to stop an ancient power from consuming all. Blending science fiction and fantasy, Winterlong is a dark fairy tale about a land where societal and sexual taboos have disappeared, and what’s left is a world that is both lyrical and terrifying, familiar and striking. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Elizabeth Hand including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.
This first novel is a richly imagined work set in a Washington, D.C., devastated by nuclear and biological warfare. Society is rigidly stratified: the Ascendants, absentee rulers who were responsible for the devastation; the Curators, who tend the city's nearly destroyed museums and libraries; the Paphians, who barter sexual favors for goods; and the Lazars, wretched survivors of periodic germ warfare who subsist by cannibalism. The plot revolves around the reunification of twins separated in childhood: one, a male, is now a Paphian; the female is a ``neurologically augmented empath specializing in emotive engram therapy.'' Hand's world is nuanced and believable and her characters, especially the female twin, come convincingly alive. Her attempts to imbue the plot with mythic sensibility, however, do not succeed, resulting in a good science fiction framework burdened with badly grafted elements of fantasy and the occult. The final scene, in which the incestuous reunion between the twins heralds the onset of a cataclysmic ``Final Ascension,'' is disappointing in its murkiness.