Friday, 3 June 2016

The Tame Animals of Saturn by Adam Browne

The Tame Animals of Saturn by Adam Browne is a short, illustrated book. As far as textual length goes, it's in the realm of long novelette to short novella, and illustrations of the titular animals are presented around and between the text.

A large-format, heavily-illustrated compendium of fantastical animals inspired by the imagined extraterrestrial menagerie of nineteenth-century Christian mystic, Jakob Lorber.

I am inclined to describe this book as surreal, in what I think of as the artistic definition. I have also heard it called absurdist philosophical steampunk. Whatever you call it, that style is not really my sort of thing, to be honest. I'm probably too much of a scientist to get very into fantastical descriptions of animals of Saturn, particularly when coupled with a story-telling style I'm not especially enamoured of (the prose was a little purple). Which is not to say that others won't enjoy this book, just that I didn't.

The story is written more in the style of philosophical non-fiction than conventional fiction, and concerns itself with describing the inhabitants of a fantastical Saturn and their goings on. It also focuses on Jakob Loder and his writings, fixating at times on the possibility of a Saturnian Loder to parallel the real Austrian one. I suspect someone who had studied more old philosophers and philosophy than I, may have gotten more out the book, too.

The illustrations were detailed pencil drawings, mostly, depicting the surreal and/or absurd animals described in the text. Many of them were grotesque and, to me, a bit disconcerting. Although it went well with the text, it is not my favourite art style either (you can probably see a trend here...).

The Tame Animals of Saturn was an odd book and one I probably wouldn't've picked up myself. That said, I recognise most of my response is personal rather than objective and, if what I have described appeals to you, absolutely give this book a go.

3 / 5 stars

First published: March 2016, Peggy Bright Books
Series: No
Format read: eARC
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

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