Snyder, M.V., Inside Out, Mira Books, 2011
One of the book reviewers quoted on the inside cover of Maria V. Snyder’s book Inside Out, says that the world of the book: “…is by turn alien and heartbreakingly familiar.” The haunting familiarity of this alien world is one of the most far-reaching consequences of Inside Out that stays with you long after you’ve closed the book and thoughtfully placed it back on the bookshelf. There’s probably no point in asking yourself where you could have possibly fished up such a vital memory, lest it be some primal, inter-uterine souvenir. The world of Inside Out is above all a world of touch and tastes and smells, a world of blood and water, a world of skin and textures, yet in which a caress would seem suspicious if not dangerous. And extreme wariness is justified: the slightest deviance could be sanctioned by a sharp knife and a brutal end.
Inside Out is alive with a constant hum of unspecified machinery, but it is not a world dominated by machines. Although the world is made of sheet metal bolted piece by piece, that surface is smooth and curved rather than hard and angular. The hardness springs rather from those who keep order and channel people’s efforts in well policed routines. It is a world of limited space, of dense crowds and narrow passages. It is a world where most people hold their peace. A nod speaks louder than words. So when Trella, the Princess of the Pipes as she is nicknamed because her job entails cleaning the many pipes that criss-cross their world, begins playing with words in her search for passwords to open secret doors in quest to get outside, her linguistic ability jars, sending out warning signals that ripple through the whole world of Inside Out, as if she were from another world. Her use of words and her subsequent reluctant acceptance of leadership heave her above the undifferentiated mass and single her out as special. Someone to look up to, someone to believe in, someone to die for.