Sunday, November 27, 2022

Five top speculative fiction books featuring tarot

Electra Pritchett is a lapsed historian who splits her time between reading, research, and her obsession with birds and parfait. Born in New Jersey, she has lived on three continents and her studies have ranged from ancient Rome to modern Japan.

At she tagged "five works of genre fiction that incorporate the tarot or a tarot analog into the worldbuilding of their novels," including:
Nova by Samuel R. Delany

Nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel, this is one of Delany’s best and most readable books. Set in the year 3172, the novel follows Lorq Von Ray’s quest to secure a supply of the power source Illyrion. This will allow him to win his feud with his arch-nemesis, and therefore shift the galactic balance of power away from Earth and towards younger political entities like Von Ray’s own Pleiades Federation. Nova is immensely clever on multiple levels, one of them being that it is a classic Grail Quest narrative—and what’s more, characters in the book are aware of it, discussing in the text about how to thwart the supposed fatal curse that falls upon those who finish their Quest tales.

In Delany’s space opera, tarot has become a mainstay of galactic society: the cards are not only widely used for games, as they are in parts of Europe today, but readings are also extremely common and considered scientific. As the would-be novelist Katin tells the Mouse, a skeptic, “…the cards don’t actually predict anything. They simply propagate an educated commentary on present situations—” Astute readers will realize that these remarks describe Lorq’s entire journey, but relating the reading to the plot is part of the enjoyment.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue