SONG OF THE OCEANIDES is a peculiar but mesmerizing tale that follows three outcasts as they struggle to find meaning in the random events of their lives.
Three characters, each taunted by the song of the Oceanides, are outcast sirens from Venus. Set in 1903, they inhabit a bizarre world in which Martians and Venusians visit earth, but all look very human. Martian technology runs on alchemy, and mainly consists of a flying gazebo run by an intelligent moth.
Emmylou and her sister are orphaned Martian girls who are abandoned on Earth by their aunt and struggle to find their way home. Rory is a grade school student who is bullied by all his peers, and Giacomo is a lonely artist who publishes fantastical comics. These three stories are tied together when Emmylou and Rory discover Giacomo’s comics. Several themes cross their stories, from adolescent or sexual awakening to the value of art and one’s worth in society.
SONG OF THE OCEANIDES’ strength is its strangeness, and even though the plot moves mainly through the characters’ heads and thoughts, it is somehow captivating. Each one is a social outcast and lives through delusional ideas, with the Martian girl paradoxically being the most grounded. The writing itself is flawless and creative, both in the language and imagery.
Emmylou, Rory, and Giacomo are intriguing characters and are similar in that they are all socially dysfunctional. Both Rory and Giacomo are unable to relate to their peers and carry on imaginary relationships with women who have clearly rejected them. Emmylou is an outcast in her isolation as a Martian, constantly pursued by the authorities who fear her extraterrestrial influence.
Each character follows an unpredictable path, and this meandering aspect of the plot is the greatest weakness of the book. Several plot threads are unresolved, and much of the mystery behind the Oceanides and their meaning is never clear. With a better resolution, this may have been justifiable, but SONG OF THE OCEANIDES would not have suffered from being a shorter work.
SONG OF THE OCEANIDES is an imaginative journey through the lives of three fascinating and troubled characters who can never quite find their places in normal society.