Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Visions of Heat: Beam me up!

Great moments from last night's reading
Book: Visions of Heat
Author: Nalini Singh
Spoiler level: Low

Okay, here I am halfway through this book and I'm so into it.

Psy and Changeling: the rundown
For anybody who doesn't know the series, the world here is made up of three groups: the Psy, a race with highly developed intellectual and extra-sensory skills, and they can link via a kind of invisible web, and they're super into business and money, but have nearly stamped out their emotions. And then there are the animalistic Changelings, sensual, emotional, sometimes fierce shapeshifters who turn into various large cats and wolves and live a kind of idyllic existence apart from the Psy. Oh, and humans are around, too. BO-RING. They don't have a big part.

So why is it so fun and addictive to read about the Psys and Changelings? The Psy here is Faith NightStar, who lives in the middle of nowhere with guards and monitors, and has been groomed to use her rare psy foresight gift to make business predictions all day. She starts getting these awful dark visions, but if the Psy leaders find out, they'll likely confine/institutionalize her. So she seeks out Sascha, a woman who broke from the Psy race to be with a changeling and meets Vaughn, a jaguar changling. Rowrrr. Like, has anybody not read this besides me?

Anyway I've really been appreciating the whole Psy/Changeling contrast, and little exchanges like this one between Faith and Vaughn early on:
"I'm Psy. I don't feel fear." Pulling away, she angled her head to face him.
His focus on her was so intense, she felt stripped bare. "Then what would you call it?"

"A physiological reaction to unknown stress factors."

The slightest hint of a smile played about his lips. "So, what other physiological reactions did you experience?"
She thought he might be laughing at her but had no way of judging the veracity of that conclusion.
Another thing I love is when they're meeting and interacting on their sort of mental 'net', and they appear to each other as cold stars in a veil of blackness. It's really a kind of nightmarish world, but Faith thinks it's beautiful in its own way. I never forgot from Slave, the first book, how the Psy could mentally follow each other around on that web of theirs. It's also wonderfully creepy, because this mental web thing makes the boundary between psy minds feel dangerously thin.

One of the reasons I think these books are so satisfying is because the central romantic drama aligns with a central theme of the human experience: the intellect vs the emotion. It's an old battle, an old dance. And it just never gets boring!

The old Star Trek used to have this, according to some. Dr. McCoy (Bones) was emotion, Spock was intellect, and Kirk was the perfect joining of the two.

What's interesting is that in Star Trek, perfection was Kirk. But in Singh's world, or the way it looks 1.5 books in, the ideal is the changlings, who are way over on the emotional side of the spectrum (and not, say the humans who would probably be the mixture).

Though in another way, it makes sense that the fierce/sensual/emotional changling side would get the high value in the world of romance.

The human don't figure much, though they apparently have the better libraries. Perhaps to read about all the exciting Changeling on Psy action.


little alys said...

Isn't it wonderful? I LOVE this world and all the wonders of Ms. Nalini's books. Love it all.
So happy you're loving it too! :D
Can't wait to hear what you think of the next few. Very good stuff. :D

Tracy said...

Oh I just love Nalini's books! I love her worlds, all of them (although I agree the humans are pretty boring but we don't see much of them so...). I'm so glad you're enjoying VoH!

And Vaughn...I'd swoon for him! lol

Liza said...

I haven't read any Nalini's books, but I might have to pick one up now. Thanks for the suggestion.

Holly said...

Isn't the world building here fabulous? I love the separation of emotion vs intellect also. It makes for very interesting reading, but also something to consider outside of the series.

Also, I totally heart you. You did the Star Trek correlation! I love it.

I have to tell you, of the series so far, this is my least favorite book. Faith and Vaughn were ok, but I think theirs is the weakest story yet.

I can't wait for you to get to Judd. Mmmmm...Judd.

MK/Kati said...

CJ - I always love reading your impressions of books after I've read them because you're so perceptive and find things that I hadn't considered. I love the idea of the books mirroring the real human experience. I hadn't thought of that.

You rock, my friend!

Carolyn Jean said...

LA: Me too! I'm usually not so focused on the world building, but this is fun stuff.

Tracy: Vaughn is quite the creature!

Liza: These are good solid paranormals.

Holly: Thanks for the insight - I was wondering how this book stacked up for people.

MK: you are so sweet to say that!

Ladytink_534 said...

I've heard of this! I think I might actually have read one of the author's short stories somewhere before.

Anonymous said...

OOhhhhh I love me a Psy/changeling novel! woot! ANother convert!

My favourite hero is Hawke and we still have his book to come, but I love all of them in my own way. Riley is my newest heartthrob! Yay. I'm a wolf gal!

Humans don't figure much in the first three books but they do have bigger roles in the later books.

naida said...

This sounds very good. I like that you did the little Star Trek comparison there.


Christine said...

LOL You totally outed your inner geek by comparing and contrasting klingons & humans to the Psy & Changelings. Of course it takes one to know one . . .

Oh wait till you get to Caressed by Ice. There's a reason that Judd rhymes with 'THUD.'

RfP said...

I'm not sure why I've resisted these books, but it sounds like I'd better add them to my Yes, Read 'Em, Stupid! list.

Ciara said...

"the central romantic drama aligns with a central theme of the human experience: the intellect vs the emotion."
Spot on. Not only are Nalini's books great adventures and great romance, they make you THINK! I love books with themes, books that raise the big questions about what it means to be human. Great review!

Aymless said...

I love this series!

And Vaughn is one naughty playful kitty cat.

But, Judd.... YUM!

Sarai said...

For the record I have Vaungh in my hut. Nuff said

Carolyn Jean said...

Everybody loves Judd! And Hawke. Sarai, YOU got Vaughn? Hmmm. That will teach me to be a tardy reader.