mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli

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Er' perrehnne. (53)

Among Others by Jo Walton.

Centralia burns,
the hell of Mordor, below.
The elves are coming.

It isn't often that a book affects me. That is, I can find plenty of good fiction moving, & be deeply absorbed in the experience of a book, but there aren't a lot that really stab at the heart. Among Others is like a tree, like an ent; it wriggles its roots in through the cracks of the stone & then they are fingers & they are prying apart the gates of Isengard, they are throwing themselves against the Orthanc of your heart. & that really is a perfect metaphor, because Jo Walton has this book simply dripping with cultural references to science fiction & fantasy. & on one level, you can see how I might identify with it; it is a book about an alienated teenager whose only solace is reading. It goes much deeper than that; little things like the nickname "Mor" really get to me, too-- details & flourishes like that are the steel tips on an arrow, the tiny but sharpest point-- but above all it is her utter devotion to the personal mythology of the magical world she inhabits, & her attempts to reconcile it with real life while never diminishing the reality of it. There are times when you can see how this is the same author as Tooth & Claw, like when topics of class coding come up, but it is just a more personal caliber.

Complaining about Aslan being Jesus & then citing Tolkien about it? Oh, ow, right in the heart, I remember doing that when I was a kid! & how about this line: I had said that Le Guin's worlds were real because her people were so real, & he said yes, but the people were so real because the were the people the worlds would have produced. That is some insightful stuff about world building right there, tucked in among the protagonist's diary entries. It is even an ode to Livejournal! I'm not surprised it won the Nebula & I won't be shocked if it takes the Hugo; I am pretty sure you'll see it on my best of the year wrap-up, too. You know what it reminds me of? The under appreciated Brother Termite; it has the same melancholia, the same distance from the world, the same second world of ghosts & otherselves hovering just out of reach. The sense of magic is the sort of thing you might talk to Grant Morrison about; the second half of Supergods is like the science-fiction counterpart to Among Others fantasy. It also reminds me of Jenny Lewis, but that is probably because her music is another piece of art that I can identify with, which is a rara avis.
Tags: books, haiku, walton

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