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From: eli+@gs211.sp.cs.cmu.edu
Subject: Re: (urth) Re: Digest urth.v030.n119
Date: Fri, 25 May 2001 15:22:02 

Spectacled Bear wrote:
> At 20:56 2001-05-24, alga wrote:
> >But let me tell you something really fascinating. Kids *love* the third
> >book.

Interesting.  I wonder whether the difference is that they don't feel
the flaws that many adults do, or that they feel certain strengths more

> Leaving everything more or less as it was before, only better, is
> characteristic of children's fantasy [one more reason to admire Alan
> Garner's _The Moon of Gomrath_, which doesn't]. 

Retargeting a bit, what about leaving everything more or less like it is
in our world, whether it started that way or not?  Oooh, this can get my
dander up, and it's not just children's fantasy either.  Some authors
write as if I can't bring anything home from the book unless it reads
right up to my door, and slams the door behind me to boot.

> Here I think it serves
> the didactic purpose of encouraging us to build the republic of heaven
> where *we* are: it isn't Will and Lyra who would spend all their time
> searching for a second window - they would have a private one, hidden
> in the back of a wardrobe - it is us.
> Hey, I convinced myself!
> But I'm still cross.

That didactic purpose I can appreciate, but he weakens it by forcing the
story.  He tried to set up "Cold Equations"-style plot mechanism which
threatens global disaster to _coerce_ Will and Lyra's decision -- rather
than letting us see what their own wisdom leads them to decide.  That's
a lesser story.

I remember that my reading experience when I hit this was not one bit
high-mindedly didactified, but was on the same mechanical level as his
setup: but but but the Dust ecology is not at risk, because brief
openings don't leak on the scale of the natural influx we've seen, and
creating Specters is no problem with a little help, since the angel has
said she can deal with those.  If it had occurred to Will and Lyra that
the obstacles were not absolute, they could have gone on to ask more
interesting questions: what if everybody did it?  are we special, to
justify it?  And the question Pullman didn't dare to ask them: even if
we can, should we?

In a way, he did quite right.  I don't know that they would have
answered the way he wanted.  The honest story, I want to call it though
I really shouldn't, might be a tragedy.

     Eli Brandt  |  eli+@cs.cmu.edu  |  http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~eli/

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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