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Wraeththu: The Picture Book
Marja Kettner and Zuaberfeder Verlag
Braunschweig / Zauberfeder Verlag softcover �19.90 / $32
review by Amy Harlib
When British speculative fiction writer Storm Constantines Wraeththu trilogy was published in the late 1980s and early 1990s - The Enchantments Of Flesh and Spirit, The Bewitchments Of Love And Hate, and The Fulfillments Of Fate And Desire (omnibus edition, 1993) � these stories soon garnered such a large following that a sequel trio of volumes eventually followed. Wraiths Of Will And Pleasure, Shades Of Time And Memory, and Ghosts Of Blood And Innocence released between 2003-5 � the entire oeuvre now available from Immanion Press, also comes supplemented by a comprehensive website, and online author-approved fan fiction and discussion, Internet list groups, author-endorsed companion novels by other writers, and likewise for an anthology of short tales, plus role playing games.
The appeal of Wraeththu lies in Storm Constantine's lush, vivid, resonant prose and her endlessly imaginative, gothic-tinged, future Earth yarns about a newly evolved successor-race to the humans we know. These folk � Wraeththu, also known as hara � unlike their predecessors, possess superior strength, enhanced energy, powerful psychic gifts, and androgynous beauty that comes with their hermaphroditic sexuality. All earlier notions of gender roles and social structures and old technology have been swept aside with new cultures emerging from the upheaval of irrevocable changes. Storytelling potential thus proves endless!
Now Wraeththu fans have an unusual new treat to please their fancies. With Storm Constantine's blessing and cooperation, German professional photographer and aficionado Marja Kettner presents Wraeththu: The Picture Book � a large-format, glossy, elegantly designed trade paperback. Containing an introduction and commentary by Storm Constantine, and a preface by Immanion Press editor Wendy Darling, this dream-come-true fruit of many years planning and labour features mostly professional and some amateur performers and models who portray prominent characters from the trilogies. The actors pose dramatically in carefully chosen, atmospheric settings whilst clad in imaginatively conceived, wonderfully designed costumes and graced with stunning hairstyles and makeup.
It is fun to note that the accoutrements were created by Sven Louis Weber, with some of the striking and original make-up and coiffures the efforts of Sandro Kopp � both of these individuals can be prominently found among the on-camera talent. Andrea Pawlak, Elly Kloppe, and Mathias Ritzau also contributed admirable skills to the models' visages and hair, while the gorgeous jewellery and ornaments came from the expert craftsmanship of Sabine Wedemeyer-Schweirsch. The photographic subjects also include such notables as Francisco Bosch (Bagoas in Oliver Stone's Alexander) and Jarl Benzon (Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings).
The synergistic effect, of Marja Kettner's and her performers' efforts, in some 100-odd sensuous, erotic art style, full-colour photographs � brings to astonishingly believable life, the alluring characters of Storm Constantine's chronicles. Posed in dynamic tableaus, these fabulous-looking beings evocatively embody the beloved and significant personages Pellaz, Calanthe, Panthera, Caeru, Cobweb, Tyson and more. Whether professional or amateur, the talented models seem to perfectly inhabit their roles � their exquisitely androgynous, rigid-gender-role-defying beauty being provocative � arousing, challenging, and appealing to open-minded viewers.
The pictures' superb quality, tastefulness (rated PG-13) and creativity offers a must-have delight to Wraeththu fans and would certainly please anyone who appreciates fine photography. This book's imagery can be gazed upon repeatedly, for the intricately, beautifully detailed and staged visuals really evoke the fantastical Wraeththu world and stimulates the imagination. Definitely also provoking exciting thoughts about magnificent cinematic possibilities, Wraeththu: The Picture Book deserves to be a treasured addition to Storm Constantine's volumes of tales, while hopefully heralding the beginnings of many more thrilling media developments for this fascinating speculative fiction concept.
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