At the University of Corporeal & Ethereal Studies meddling with unknown powers can be dangerous work. Courses in arts and sciences experiment with supernatural forces to solve the mysteries of the universe, but when school projects go awry, the students may discover more than they would like to about the madness of the cosmic 'Beyond'. Eight interwoven stories follow students whose school work, social lives and inner demons crash together, leading to fantastic and horrible experiences, supernatural powers, and a fuller understanding of the dark depths of their world. Classes include subjects such as time travel, alchemy, oneironautics, psychedelic transformation, rogue automatons, cosmic ghosts, reality-warping crystals, and more. Inspired by many authors of science fiction, fantasy and horror, including H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, Kurt Vonnegut and Isaac Asimov.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Upon entering the book, The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies, the reader is immediately greeted with an acceptance letter. Wolfgang Edwards uses this as a sort of introductory to foreshadow what is to come: you are literally stepping out of our own reality and into this new one and this letter serves to summarize that. What follows is the collections and stories of various students and characters who attend this university. Set in a fictional, sometimes bizarre, universe, Edwards explores various facets of the supernatural, blending fantasy with characters who have very human traits. I think an interesting way to categorize this book is like taking Harry Potter to the next level. You sort of get that feel because of the setting that it's in. It's not magic per say, but exploring otherworldly things, some of which I was unfamiliar with before learning about it. So that’s really the closest way to describe it, although it goes far beyond that. I learned a lot because certain things piqued my interest which I honestly have never heard about before. The book is intriguing and I became more interested the more I read. One such example was a chapter titled ‘The Oneironaut’ which is based off a concept called oneironautics. I learned that this is the concept of lucid dreaming, or being able to control your dream, whether it is trying to wake up from a dream or make something happen within the dream. The actual story is divided up into a number of different perspectives from each character. Some had more relatable stories and more developed characters than others; some were truly fantastic. It reads like a dark adventure of disconnected people that the author is able to draw together for a bigger purpose - much bigger, and much more dangerous. Throughout the various chapters, we learn of different schools within the University, from which the different characters attend. There’s the School of Coin, School of Metallurgy, School of Engineering, etc. Each school is headed by a dean; and one sticks out in particular. Dean Merkea - an unpleasant man with an ugly, tattered demon dog who even urinates on a character’s shoe at one point. My favorite chapter, Prisoner from Beyond, ties together Dean Merkea, a curator, and unravels the launch of a very unique exhibit at a museum. Despite its setting, the author manages to piece together a few solid pieces of insight every so often that can be just as intriguing as the story. One such example was of Arakatzeko, a character who can be related to someone like Socrates today: deceased, but full of wisdom. As Araktzeko is studied, we learn alongside the characters: “the true rulers of the royal palace were the cats, who were said to live through every change in royal families without incident”. Such tangible reliefs are welcome and help humanize an otherwise crazy setting. As the book progresses, you get a feeling it's heading towards something - just not sure what. The unique stories of each of the characters has surely got something for everybody, admittedly some more than others. It is guaranteed to stay fresh and new until the very end, which may leave you wishing that the author could’ve just kept going.
I very much enjoyed reading this book it hooked me from page one, a girl who works at the university, finds out about a project which was secretly done and she goes to search of it in the dungeons. She is trying to finish it and hopes to sell it so there will be food on the table. I won't tell much more, don't want to spoil to much, it is 8 stories total and so so worth your time . there is many in there, psychedelic, alchemy, oneironautics, time traveling etc!! Great book in my humble opinion.
Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite “Welcome to The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies, where the mysteries of the universe are solved one class at a time. This dynamic citadel stands vigil over the town of Byndal from atop Mount Dareo, a beacon of discovery thrust up to the cosmos and Beyond.” The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies (Students of Madness, Book 1) by Wolfgang Edwards centers on several students of the unique institution through eight interwoven stories. Rogue automaton, time travel, alchemy, oneironautics (dream travel), dangerous and numbing psychedelic process and much more. The premise is impressively original, imaginative and gripping. Initially, I thought this would be a purely steampunk sci-fi novel, but the concept is more than that, teasing the boundary that separates fringe science and its mainstream counterpart while incorporating dark fantasy horror. The plot is well-thought out and just as imaginative as the premise. Despite its name, the University has its share of bureaucracy and the world-building is laden with dogmatic teachings, overbearing families, greed, inequality, and other societal problems. The protagonists have to rise above all these and battle their inner demons at the same time, while trying to accomplish their ultimate goal at the University. Wolfgang Edwards does a great job of weaving the stories together. Eccentric, dark, and with solid characterization, this debut for Students of Madness series is an absolute joy to read and hard to put down. Edwards is an excellent storyteller, and I look forward to reading more about brilliant minds challenging the bounds of logic and sanity.