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The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  3,993 ratings  ·  767 reviews
Professor Vellitt Boe teaches at the prestigious Ulthar Women’s College. When one of her most gifted students elopes with a dreamer from the waking world, Vellitt must retrieve her.

But the journey sends her on a quest across the Dreamlands and into her own mysterious past, where some secrets were never meant to surface.
ebook, 166 pages
Published August 16th 2016 by
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Enso The setting is the same, as well as being the Cthulhu Mythos. I think you would understand most of it if you read it but you'd be best served to read …moreThe setting is the same, as well as being the Cthulhu Mythos. I think you would understand most of it if you read it but you'd be best served to read "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" before this as it is a homage and response to it.(less)
LM I'm sensitive to these things too, so a mild spoiler: while Vellitt and the cat share some tense scenes and danger, the cat comes through it fine. I o…moreI'm sensitive to these things too, so a mild spoiler: while Vellitt and the cat share some tense scenes and danger, the cat comes through it fine. I only recall the cat being directly threatened once, briefly, but no harm comes to the cat. Kitty gets a happy ending.(less)

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Elena May
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
We’ve seen this book so many times – someone from our world ends up in a portal universe and goes adventuring. Everyone from the portal world, with all their rich stories, cultures, relationships, dreams, becomes just a part of the landscape, a prop for our protagonists to experience a strange world and discover themselves.

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe is not this book.

This is a book about people and cultures from the portal world – the Dreamlands. People from our world might end up there by dr
Dan Schwent
When a student from the Ulthar Women's College goes missing with her dreaming lover, Vellitt Boe journeys across the dreamlands to find a way to the waking world to bring her back. With a cat in tow, will Vellitt be able to find Clarie Jurat?

Ghouls, ghasts, and gugs, oh my! The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe is a new spin on HP Lovecraft's The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, with less racism and more women! It was already on my wish-list when it popped up on Netgalley.

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe i
This novella is a real delight! I love all things Lovecraftian, with or without the inherent racism of the original, but fortunately, almost EVERY hand put to the task of building upon the mythos has recreated it into something egalitarian and deep while still retaining the rich, rich imaginings.

This continues the quest within the Dreamland but from the point of view of a middle-aged teacher of mathematics from *within* this other world, helping out a student from our world who had fallen in lov
Althea Ann
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Before reading this story, I highly recommend reading Lovecraft's 'Dream Cycle,' or, at the very least, "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath," ( as this is a commentary on it. Kij Johnson's piece is both an homage and a criticism. She captures the wandering, questing tone and the series of encounters with eldritch and weird situations perfectly - I would venture to say that her writing even improves on the originals.

But what convinced me to up this to four
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Aug 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016

I didn't plan for it, but this is my second in a row fan-fic story. The title should have been familiar from a highschool short foray into Lovecraftian horror, but the source of inspiration only became clear to me when reading the afterword / acknowledgements:

I first read it at ten, thrilled and terrified, and uncomfortable with the racism but not yet aware that the total absence of women was also problematic. This story is my adult self returning to a thing I loved as a child and seeing whethe
Heidi The Reader
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Weird and wonderful short tale of a university professor who is looking for a missing student. I hadn't read any of Lovecraft's stories but I still enjoyed this very much.

First of all, I learned what a group of cats is called: "A clowder had congregated with the quad, as well; they ceased whatever was their business and watched as Vellitt and Oure passed, and one, a small black cat, separated itself from the rest and followed them into Jurat's stairwell." pg 15. A clowder, how cool is that. I ne
Jun 03, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars - I read this not originally knowing that it is a kind of response to Lovecraft's 'The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath'. Even without that prior knowledge, I enjoyed this but having read over the synopsis of the Lovecraft tale, I probably would have enjoyed it immensely more if I was previously familiar with that story. This would be good for fans of Lovecraft who are not fans of the blatant racism and sexism of that time. ...more
Sep 07, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The writing in this book was odd from the beginning. Very stilted. And then there were some seriously confusing sentences. Here are two examples:

He offered her two additional gifts of great value: a password that should secure safe passage and the aid of any ghouls she encountered, and a carved red opal suspended from a fine black iron chain, which would allow her to see in the lightless under-realms.

I had to reread that three or four times because I kept counting that as three gifts rather than
Jason Bradley Thompson
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Many reviews of "Vellitt Boe" start with something like "I hate Lovecraft but I love this book" but as a fan of Lovecraft, and specifically "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" (I drew a comic based on it after all), I'm here to say that I, too, loved this novel.

It's interesting that out of all Lovecraft's books, "Kadath", which Lovecraft didn't even try to get published and which many Lovecraft fans dislike (because it's too fantasy and not horror enough), has inspired no less than two critical
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm not familiar with the H.P. Lovecraft short story that this is a reply to (The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath), but Lovecraftian themes abound and I recognize a lot of the references.

Vellitt Boe is a Professor at the Woman's College of her University when one of her students runs away with a man from the waking world. Fearful that the College will be disbanded because of this, Vellitt heads off in pursuit on foot to bring her back. Her only companion is a mysterious black cat that has chosen t
What an amazing reading experience! I cannot believe that so much substance is contained in a short novella. It is a real testament to the author because no word in this entire story was wasted. The writing style is so enchanting, lush and evocative. I did not want to leave this magical world at all and when I did finish reading it, it was like coming out of a dreamy haze. Some of the vivid descriptions of the environment took my breath away. Even though it's on the shorter side, it took me a bi ...more
Matthew Quann
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
When one of professor Vellitt Boe's students makes an attempt to escape into the waking world, she goes in hot pursuit of her charge across an ever-changing, horror-filled dreamscape.

At first, I wasn't much for this novella, which seemed like it would be a fairly boring travelogue. As the book wore on, I ended up finding a lot to like in Vellitt's quest. The world in which the story takes place is visited by humans from Earth during their dreaming and is mercurial in nature. Distances that took
Her dreams were large, of trains a mile long and ships that climbed to the stars, of learning the languages of squids and slime-molds, of crossing a chessboard the size of a city.

Despite loving the idea of the Mythos, with it's Elder Gods and alternate worlds and roughly Victorian setting, I never could get into HP Lovecraft's work. And as much as I'd like to say it's the racism/lack of women, in the end they're something I've been able to get through before. The writing though, just leaves me c
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite stories by H.P. Lovecraft is The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, which is a shortish and somewhat formless novel about Randolph (Really, I'm Not an Author Insert) Carter's peregrinations through the Land of Dreams, which is suitably fabulous and occasionally nightmarish. But although I've read the story many, many times, I had never noticed: There are literally no women. No, I mean really. Not just that there are no women in the roles of major characters, but there aren't even ...more
Peter Tillman
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A really good fantasy-adventure with some sharp social commentary, inspired by Lovecraft’s 1943 "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath," which I don’t think I ever finished, back in the day. Johnson is a whole lot better writer anyway, so leave Lovecraft be, is my advice. An easy four stars, highly recommended for fantasy-quest and Kij Johnson fans. And a fine introduction to her work, if you’ve missed her up to now. $4 Kindle edition, at Amazon.

I loved the main character, Professora Vellitt Boe, he
Mar 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-fiction
[3.5 Stars] I thought this was very solidly written. I enjoyed following a character who has already had her greatest adventures, and is forced to go on one more. I would have benefited a bit, I think, if I had read Lovecraft first, but I don't think it overly affected my experience. I wish there was a bit of a more conclusive ending, but I liked what we did get. ...more
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Quiet, meditative, lovely. And a great answer to Lovecraft. Kij Johnson's Vellit Boe is a middle-aged woman who takes it upon herself to recover a student at her University who's taken off with a man. Boe used to travel in her youth, so is quite qualified to head off on her own after the young woman. And through Vellit, Kij Johnson responds beautifully to Lovecraft's stupid attitudes towards women:

'“Women don’t dream large dreams,” he had said, dismissively. “It is all babies and hous
3ish stars.

Would probably be at least 4 stars but I had to skim through most of the middle. Writing was self-indulgent and the quest got really tedious. Cool concept, cool ending, brief flashes of coolness in between.

And a great-looking cover!
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
(full review with quotes on my blog! )

This story felt like I was going on a journey with Vellitt, I could feel the air and see the landscape through her eyes; as if I was accompanying her, like the little black cat you can actually see on the cover.

Talking about the cover : isn’t it wonderful ? It totally made me want to dive into the story immediately. The art is by Victo Nga and design by Christine Foster.

So we follow Vellitt, a middle-aged woman (aroun
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I really enjoyed this novella. It is in dialogue with a short story by Lovecraft, which I have not read, but you don’t need to read that to enjoy this. And fortunately for me, this is fantasy, not horror. It is set in a portal world clearly conceived as the stuff of nightmares, with monsters, shifting natural laws and an angry sky; if this were made into a movie the horror would be inescapable. But through the eyes of a protagonist who hails from that world, these are simply facts of life, evoki ...more
Allison Hurd
A strange read for me. I hate the author of the lore this is based on, but I love the mythos. I love the writing of this tie-in, but I really did not like the structure.

CONTENT WARNING: (view spoiler)

Things that were fun:

-Vellitt. A strong, experienced, well-lived woman of a certain age and, I think, of color! You just don't see a lot of protagonists like this.

-The world. The Dreamlands are just cool to be in. There's a reason Lovecraftia
In this novella we're following an ex-adventurer, Vellitt Boe, who goes out on a mission to retrieve a student who has run away from the Uni Boe works at. This student was extremely gifted and valued and it would do a lot of harm to the uni if she were just to vanish, so Boe heads off into the wilds of Drealand to find her again...

The story was truly captivating at first and I found the majority of it kept me excited as I was constantly imagining all the wacky and weird things that were being de
K.J. Charles
This was a glorious read. Set in Lovecraft's Dreamlands, a place of shifting space and time and malevolent yet stupid gods, with a ferociously strong-willed older woman as heroine on a quest to find a runaway student. It's lovely to see Lovecraft's imagination reclaimed with women and queerness, the atmosphere on Vellitt's quest is extraordinary and immersive, and the ending, a defiant shout against the gods, is marvellous. A thorough pleasure.

I have never actually managed to read the HPL story
Dec 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, fantasy
I forced myself to read The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath for this. Was it worth it? This was fine, but DQUK was awfully boring, but I'm going to say yes. Just barely.

Prose: excellent. Kij Johnson is a very skilled writer. 5 stars
Content: A lotter better than Lovecraft, but she does closely replicate the form of the original, so there were still parts where it dragged dully. 3 stars
Character: Boe is a lot more interesting and sympathetic than Carter. I think rewriting this with a narrator *from
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The writing is so good that it's actually distracting. I started by taking Kindle highlights of plot points, then for ideas and adaptations on Lovecraft's Dreamlands, and finally to capture the pure joy of the sentences, to worry over particularly well-wrought combinations and tasting how they fit together. This is _gorgeous_ stuff, all the more because it takes the Lord Dunsany mode that Lovecraft was operating in, welds it to an intensely personal experience and intimate thoughts, turns the pe ...more
Tudor Ciocarlie
Apr 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Another great novella by Kij Johnson that will probably win many awards in 2017; and another great lovecraftian story that Lovecraft would've hate. ...more
May 28, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF'd halfway. I did not connect to this story in any way and it felt like a tour guide of a world I had no interest in. ...more
In portal fantasy, my sympathies are always with those native to the portal world, and I'm often frustrated by the tendency of the adventuring protagonist (and the author) to treat them like window dressing on a Grand Quest for Self Discovery. Which is to say that this is a book that is written exactly for me, because this is about what it's like to live in a portal world, to accept that portal world as normal and real despite its hazards and inconsistencies. It's about prosaic moments among gor ...more
And then, oh, I loved this. I like road narratives when they're well-done, and I was riveted to this one thanks to its middle-aged female academic protagonist (with sidekick cat!!), plus interesting incidents and a fascinating world to traverse.

I feel like I should've read The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath before this, to fully contextualise it and what Johnson was doing, but I could still absolutely appreciate this through the lens of ineffable horrors made commonplace, and a place in which ou
Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was sent to me by the publisher, at no cost.

A middle aged woman goes on an epic quest. You'll want to be reading this in August when it's released. seriously, what more do you need to know?

Vellitt is a mathematics professor at the only women's college in her city. Although it's not really "her" city - it's just where her youthful ramblings ended up taking her. Anyway one night she discovers that one of the students has left - run away with a boy - and not just any boy, but one fro
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SciFi and Fantasy...: "The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe" by Kij Johnson (BR) 58 45 Oct 27, 2019 01:01PM  

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Kij Johnson is an American writer of fantasy. She has worked extensively in publishing: managing editor for Tor Books and Wizards of the Coast/TSR, collections editor for Dark Horse Comics, project manager working on the Microsoft Reader, and managing editor of Real Networks. She is Associate Director for the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas, and serves as a fina ...more

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10 likes · 5 comments
“She had never met a woman from the waking world. Once she asked Carter about it.
"Women don't dream large dreams," he had said, dismissively. "It is all babies and housework. Tiny dreams."
Men said stupid things all the time, and it was perhaps no surprise that men of the waking world might do so as well, yes she was disappointed in Carter.”
“That night and for years afterward, she had envisioned another dream land, built from the imaginings of powerful women dreamers. Perhaps it would have fewer gods, she thought as she watched the moon vanish over the horizon, leaving her in the darkness of the ninety-seven stars.” 5 likes
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