Moon Madness: Radiance, A Trip to the Moon, and Moonday

16 Mar

The moon has been a source of wonder, myth, and mystery since the first human looked up at the night sky.  Few of us actually get to walk on its surface, although perhaps with the promise of space tourism that may soon change.  Until that day we have these fantasy works that allow our imaginations to take flight.

Catherynne M. Valente’s Radiance

To me this was the best book of 2015.  Inspired by the silent film, A Trip to the Moon, Radiance takes place in alternate reality where Edison’s hoarding of copyrights means that talkie films never caught on, but space travel is commonplace.  People now live on the moon and other planets whose native species while being named after creatures on earth are decidedly alien.  Valente’s clever creative descriptions of this alien menagerie was only one of the many features which charmed me.  This quirky book is told through a variety of found materials including transcripts, gossip columns, and more.  This adds enjoyment to the audiobook version (available from Hoopla) as actor Heath Miller brings to life the characters. All together the found materials forms the mysterious story of deceased filmmaker Severin Unck whose life is slowly revealed.  Her documentaries were a reaction against her father’s over the top fantastical works and Valente notes that her own filmmaker father helped to motivate her writing of the novel.  Retro futurism has never been so delightful or thoughtful.  Read it in print from the Hoboken Library or as an eBook from eBCCLS!

A Trip to the Moon

Georges Méliès’s  A Trip to the Moon was inspired by the novels of Jules Verne and other science fiction novels from that time period.  It uses the effects and the aesthetics derived from the Féerie theatrical productions which were popular in France in the 1800’s; ironically the beginning of film saw the decline of its popularity.  Despite the fact that the film was created in 1902, it has kept its charm and due to the recent fad for retrofuturism it seems oddly modern with its depiction of astronomers who use a cannon to launch their rocket to the moon.  Beside Valente’s novel, it has been the inspiration for one of my favorite music videos, Smashing Pumpkin’s “Tonight, Tonight.”  There is a colorized version of  A Trip to the Moon.  Although currently films can be colorized via computer, at that time each print of films had to be individually hand colored.  The coloring leads another level of whimsy and visual interest to the film.  Valente discussed the job in her novel; I would definitely recommend watching the film while reading Radiance.  You can borrow the DVD, Méliès le Cinémagicien from BCCLS which includes a documentary about Méliès as well as several of his films.

Adam Rex’s Moonday

If your children, like my three year old son, are fascinated by the moon, then you should check out Adam Rex’s Moonday, where the moon takes up residency in a family’s backyard.  Although at first it seems exciting to be able to literally reach out and touch the moon, it soon has some odd consequences including the town’s people’s lack of sleep and a tide that begins to fill up the yard.  Rex’s realistic illustrations bring this surreal concept to life.  You may remember Rex from previous blog posts as the illustrator of my son’s favorite picture book series centered on Chu, the panda bear with the mighty sneeze, written by Neil Gaiman.  Moonday is available from Hoboken Public Library and you can borrow a picture book on video adaptation from Hoopla.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

2 Responses to “Moon Madness: Radiance, A Trip to the Moon, and Moonday”


  1. It Came from the Interwebz: Books that Started Out as Online Phenomena | Hoboken Library Staff Picks - May 10, 2017

    […] Home.  You can borrow several of the books as digital audiobooks from Hoopla.  I had previously blogged about Valente’s fantastic adult novel Radiance in a previous post and dubbed it one of my […]

  2. Historical Fantasies with Feisty Heroines by David D. Levine and R.S. Belcher | Hoboken Library Staff Picks - January 24, 2018

    […] these books; then check out my previous posts about Gail Carriger’s Steampunk series, Catherynne M. Valente’s Radiance, and Leanna Renee Heieber’s The Eterna Files, and Liesel Schwarz’s The Chronicles of Light and […]

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