“Hell must be full of poor academics.”
The Sea Dreams it is the Sky by John Hornor Jacobs is a compact novella which packs a huge punch. It is by turns dark and gorgeous, sultry and sickening. The story starts off brooding in southern Spain, but gradually accelerates to a thrilling dash across the Andes until we smash into the pitch-black Pacific. Jacobs does a great job of evoking the richness of Malaga and the bleakness of the South American mountains.
It’s a smart book, and literary in the sense that it is about literature. The two main characters are poets, and the plot is fuelled by their creativity as well as their academic research (and later knife-wielding motorcycle skills). I really loved the looking-up-old-texts part of their diabolical studies, exploring the nitty-gritty of translation and literary criticism. That’s not to say the action isn’t thrilling and horrifying! The Sea Dreams it is the Sky is what would happen if Umberto Eco wrote cosmic horror.
An unexpected bonus came from Jacobs’ frank look at the toxicity of the 20th century male artist. He manages to examine the lone male genius trope from both within and without, critiquing where necessary whilst also celebrating his charms. The female protagonist felt fresh and relatable and she brought an important modern critical perspective to a problematic genre.
All in all I loved reading this book. I feel like I’ve found a new home in cosmic horror with John Hornor Jacobs.
*I received a pdf in return for an honest review*