(urth) Gaiman, Mieville, Pullman, etc.
Alice K. Turner
aturner6 at nyc.rr.com
Tue Nov 30 20:29:43 PST 2004
I've been off this list for quite a long time, just rejoined, and feel I
should add some <g> support to Hmpf (though that is a distinctly non-vegetal
name). Wow, pretty busy on this list. First, I have not read "The Problem of
Susan" (is that actually the name of the story?), though I would very much
like to as I have never, never forgiven Lewis (and we are going back to my
early teens here) for what he did to Susan. Where can I find it?
Second, for Lexicon Urthus, try siriusfiction.com. Technically it is out of
print, but you never know.
Third, I believe the Poughkeepsie ref goes back to Harlan Ellison who once
replied sarcastically to the eternal fan question at a convention, "Where do
you get your ideas?" "Poughkeepsie." It's an old factory town in upstate New
York. If it wasn't Ellison, it was someone else; perhaps someone more
conversant with SF history can set the record straight.
Fourth, I agree with the person who said that of Gaiman, Mieville and
Pullman, Pullman is far the most important writer. Gaiman is a charmer, and
a sort of god to the graphics-novel-manga crowd, and has done some really
good straight-prose work too, off and on. Mieville, I have to agree, is a
hack, and a clumsy writer too, though I will hand him the Armada, a
wonderfully visual idea--also I sort of liked his B-movie mosquito women.
But his soul is in pulp horror and doesn't extend much beyond it--certainly
not to decent characterization or plots that make sense. I own his third
book, but I'll have to have run out of everything else to read before I
tackle it beyond the first three tedious chapters.
But Pullman has acheived a classic, which people will be reading many
decades from now. Like a number of other people, including someone on this
list (forgive me, I've been catching up with a bunch of digests and can't
follow who-said-what), I have tended to scorn the third book as unworthy,
and I still think the mulefa sequence was a mistake (the London theatrical
verson left it out, and if I were scripting the movie(s), I'd do the same).
But I found myself recently passionately defending the "world of the dead"
sequence, and I'd do the same again. It is so right and so inclusive in its
descriptions (I'm speaking historically, and can make a case; I particularly
like the use of the harpies) and so beautiful in its fervent Buddhist(ic)
conclusion. Also, I found myself defending the sex-as-redemption ending,
though I have sneered at the concept in other books, particularly a dreadful
one of Sephen King's that I have thankfully forgotten the title of. (Mind
you, I think King has written a few pretty good books too.) But here--oh, I
don't know. "Spyglass" is a lumpy book, but I'll take those lumps and defend
them. Or so it seems. The first book of the trilogy is simply perfect. Or so
Fifth (as an aside), it seems to me that Tolkien presents a perfectly
workable agrarian-feudal society. It may be a little mysterious how the
dwarves and orcs and elves arrange for dinner (other than pillaging), but
not in the case of the men or hobbits. If anyone gets seriously exercised
about that aspect of the novels, I'd suggest half an hour's jogging followed
by a shower.
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