His Dark Materials

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Vaniver » Thu Dec 27, 2007 8:21 pm UTC

Torvaun is correct. Pullman bastardizes QM to give the magic in his books a scientific veneer; string theory (thankfully) is not touched.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby william » Fri Dec 28, 2007 3:52 am UTC

Not like Pullman could bastardize string theory more than it already is.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Antimatter Spork » Sat Dec 29, 2007 10:14 pm UTC

I don't see why everyone's getting so worked up over Pullman's mangling of QM. Mangling science is a hallowed tradition of science fiction authors. Hell, I think I've only ever read (maybe) one sci-fi series ever that didn't involve FTL travel (Orson Scott Card's Ender books started without FTL travel (though they did have FTL communication), but he added it at the end in Xenocide/Children of the Mind), and (as far as I know) Science says that FTL travel is impossible. Anyone remember Asimov's* Foundation trilogy with the galactic empire running FTL ships on nuclear power? (and even without nuclear power, after the fall of the empire all of the kingdoms were running interstellar fleets on coal and oil).

Handwavium technology is an ubiquitous element of science fiction, and authors have always slapped on whatever sounded cool/new in the science world at the time. It's a story device, and people are writing fantasy. Anyone who seriously believes that science fiction is actually meant to be a prediction of how the future will be is crazy.

*I know Asimov was a scientist, but he had his share of impossible/impractical technology, even if he didn't get science wrong as often as others do.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby william » Sat Dec 29, 2007 11:24 pm UTC

Pretty much all those are examples of adding things that didn't exist, not mangling things that do.

Actually, you could make a case with the whole "Positronic brain" thing, but anyways, don't use terms you don't understand.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Malice » Sun Dec 30, 2007 1:21 am UTC

Antimatter Spork wrote:I don't see why everyone's getting so worked up over Pullman's mangling of QM. Mangling science is a hallowed tradition of science fiction authors.


Sure. But Pullman is not a science fiction writer. The "His Dark Materials" books are fantasy, and as such throwing a thin veneer of misinterpreted science over what should rightly be simply termed "magic" isn't exactly something to be applauded. Imagine Gandalf the Grey shouting, "Cross this bridge and I'll break the bonds between your molecules!"
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Antimatter Spork » Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:32 am UTC

william wrote:Pretty much all those are examples of adding things that didn't exist, not mangling things that do.

Actually, you could make a case with the whole "Positronic brain" thing, but anyways, don't use terms you don't understand.


Yeah, but science fiction writers have the (apparently) irresistible desire to explain their handwavium technologies, which generally involves mangling more science than you can shake a test tube at. I'm not saying that they should, only saying that going after Pullman specifically is a bit unfair. Frankly, I'm all for sci-fi writers either not explaining how their magic technology works, or at the very least making up some terms, since calling something "atomic" when that's a) impossible and b) wrong is just going to make you look silly to readers in twenty years when we've got new scientific buzzwords (like "quantum" and "string theory") to use to justify our handwavium.

Sure. But Pullman is not a science fiction writer. The "His Dark Materials" books are fantasy, and as such throwing a thin veneer of misinterpreted science over what should rightly be simply termed "magic" isn't exactly something to be applauded. Imagine Gandalf the Grey shouting, "Cross this bridge and I'll break the bonds between your molecules!"

The difference between a fantasy novel and a science fiction novel is extremely ill-defined. Take Anne McCaffery's Pern novels, which look fantasy except for the fact that they're science fiction
Spoiler:
Pern is actually a planet colonized by humans in the distant past and the dragons are genetically engineered from a Pernese native life form.


I've read plenty of stories where the "magic" was really sufficiently advanced technology, and also stories where magicians build spaceships and go to the moon (Terry Pratchett's The Last Hero is a good example of that one). His Dark Materials straddles the line, in that it includes pseudoscience explanations for a lot (but not all) of the "magic" that takes place.

tl;dr version: Yeah, he may mangle Quantum Mechanics, but so does everyone else. Lighten up.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Zohar » Sun Dec 30, 2007 8:56 am UTC

I don't mind too much about sci-fi writers using unrealistic technology.
For me, good sci-fi means mostly one of two things:
The implications of imminent technology on our lives (meaning nothing too advanced, just within our reach. Any cloning story can serve as an example).
Or the behavior (social or personal) of people in extreme situations, where the technology serves as a frame for the extreme situation (Asimov's Psychohistory and Robots, V for Vendetta's government etc.).

Some sci fi tries to have a foundation of "look at all the cool ideas I have". That can be nice and interesting but usually won't leave a lasting impression on me.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Antimatter Spork » Sun Dec 30, 2007 2:54 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:The implications of imminent technology on our lives (meaning nothing too advanced, just within our reach. Any cloning story can serve as an example).

Yeah, but how many sci-fi writers actually try to figure out what cloning technology would actually look like? In all probability, it would involve some using variant of stem-cell research to grow replacement organs, but with science fiction it's always rapidly-aging clone armies.

(I don't really know much about cloning science, but as far as I know, clone armies are more trouble than they'd actually be worth, and clones take as long to grow up as anyone else, and anything that changes that is likely to have other nasty implications in terms of genetic dysfunction).
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Zohar » Sun Dec 30, 2007 3:26 pm UTC

Antimatter Spork wrote:Yeah, but how many sci-fi writers actually try to figure out what cloning technology would actually look like? In all probability, it would involve some using variant of stem-cell research to grow replacement organs, but with science fiction it's always rapidly-aging clone armies.


I don't remember any specifics but I'm sure there're sci-fi stories about only the rich being able to clone organs for themselves and thus they live for a long time while the poor die young, for example.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Antimatter Spork » Sun Dec 30, 2007 6:10 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:
Antimatter Spork wrote:Yeah, but how many sci-fi writers actually try to figure out what cloning technology would actually look like? In all probability, it would involve some using variant of stem-cell research to grow replacement organs, but with science fiction it's always rapidly-aging clone armies.


I don't remember any specifics but I'm sure there're sci-fi stories about only the rich being able to clone organs for themselves and thus they live for a long time while the poor die young, for example.

Yeah, but is that a story about cloning or about the effect of class differences on access to competent medical care? Or both?
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Zohar » Sun Dec 30, 2007 8:32 pm UTC

Antimatter Spork wrote:Yeah, but is that a story about cloning or about the effect of class differences on access to competent medical care? Or both?


I apologize if you misunderstood me. I meant that there's bound to be a story like that, not that I actually read it. The point is, I don't think sci-fi should (usually) be about actual science. It's just a tool to give the writers the situations they want. In some cases, though, it is about describing an interesting world or idea.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Antimatter Spork » Mon Dec 31, 2007 4:52 pm UTC

Ah. I had misunderstood. You are correct, sir.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Izzhov » Sat Feb 09, 2008 12:01 am UTC

Uh, someone briefly mentioned a book called Lyra's Oxford in this thread... what's that?

EDIT: I found the quote:
aion7 wrote:I liked the books in this order Golden Compass/Northern Lights tied with Subtle Knife (It's really a matter of Iorek or Will's beginnings, and I can't make that decision) then The Amber Spyglass (there were a few nonsensical parts, and a few unnecessary parts) and finally comes the abomination that was Lyra's Oxford. It totally ruined the ending. Also, it was just bad.

Yeah, I've never heard of that one. What is it?

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Vaniver » Sat Feb 09, 2008 6:29 am UTC

Izzhov wrote:Yeah, I've never heard of that one. What is it?
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby JayDee » Sat Feb 09, 2008 9:48 am UTC

I picked up a copy of Lyras Oxford secondhand a while back, but I havn't really even looked at it.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby SpitValve » Sat Feb 09, 2008 3:24 pm UTC

Re: mangling science

Two good axioms of pseudo-science in science fiction/fantasy:

1. You can get people to believe the impossible, but not the improbable.
2. You can only get people to believe the impossible if you do not try to explain that it is, in fact, possible.

I am happy to lose myself into a fantasy universe with multiple dimensions, magic talking stones and magic particles that make up our souls. But when the multiple dimensions are due to the Many-Worlds Interpretation of QM, the magic talking stones are due to quantum entanglement and the magic particles are actually dark matter, I can't help but say "No they aren't, it doesn't work that way."

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Izzhov » Sat Feb 09, 2008 6:12 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Izzhov wrote:Yeah, I've never heard of that one. What is it?
Every now and then, Wikipedia is your friend.

Oh, yes, quite good, quite good. *takes notes*

So, is anyone else psyched about The Book of Dust? I am, and I just learned about it two seconds ago. :D

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby aion7 » Sun Feb 10, 2008 3:39 pm UTC

Lyra's Oxford was bad enough to make me afraid of the Book Of Dust, because I'll read it, and it will probably suck. In my opinion, the ending was perfect at the end of The Amber Spyglass.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby lazydilettante » Sat Mar 01, 2008 7:19 pm UTC

Huh, am I the only one who really wasn't touched by the whole Lyra & Will love story thing? Because honestly, I thought the most touching relationship in the whole thing was the one between Lyra and her daemon. The part where Lyra and Will had to say their goodbyes didn't do nearly as much for me emotionally as when Lyra had to leave Pantalaimon behind.

I think though what really ruined the love story thing for me was that Pullman implied it was their "Oh me yarm sudden understanding of luuuurve" that caused them to "mature" enough to attract all the Dust leaking out of the world(s). Now I realize he was writing for an approximately teenaged target audience for whom falling in love might well seem like the first real step towards maturing into a true "adult," but really, there's so, so much more to being what society considers "mature" than merely falling deeply in love for the first time.

(I hope no one argues with me about their falling in love being the catalyst for their maturity, because Pullman beat it into readers' heads for 3 whole books that only mentally mature adults attract Dust, and that a daemon's settling is a sign of their human's entrance into true adult maturity--and those things don't happen for Lyra and Will until right after they fall in love.)

Maybe Pullman just didn't want to get too preachy and thus repulse his young audience, but if you ask me, Will's most mature moment in the entire book was when he was shown planning for the safety and care of his mother, not when he fell in love with Lyra. I'm not even arguing on the grounds that 13-year-olds can't have "true love"--I'll grant Pullman the (however ludicrous) idea that Will and Lyra were truly and deeply in love, since he made such a big point about it with all the daemon-touching and whatnot. The bottom line is that maturity comes with voluntarily accepting responsibility for lives other than your own, and Will and Lyra did that long before they fell in love--in fact, compared to all the other instances where they demonstrated courage and selflessness, the whole falling-in-love thing was one of their more childish moments.

Also, I actually liked the "mangled science" about Dust being dark matter and the whole multiple-worlds theory and all that. I don't care if Pullman totally butchered the science--the fact that he mixed so much pseudoscience into what was otherwise a 100% fantasy novel really helped set HDM apart from other similar series in my mind.

My rating for the books in the series:
The Subtle Knife >> The Golden Compass >>>> The Amber Spyglass (the ending of this really, really killed it for me, love story and stupid death of Metatron and preachy Mary and all)

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby JayDee » Sun Mar 02, 2008 2:05 am UTC

lazydilettante wrote:(I hope no one argues with me about their falling in love being the catalyst for their maturity, because Pullman beat it into readers' heads for 3 whole books that only mentally mature adults attract Dust, and that a daemon's settling is a sign of their human's entrance into true adult maturity--and those things don't happen for Lyra and Will until right after they fall in love.)
Hmm. I saw it more as 'pretty much exactly the time they had sex' more than 'some random point after they fell in love'. Which was kinda creepy.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Enneract » Sun Mar 02, 2008 5:31 pm UTC

I don't really think it was mental maturity at all, merely sexual maturity mixed in with some good old fashion non-virgin superstition. The ending of Amber Spyglass was horribly contrived, but I must admit that it was done in such a way that I didn't notice. (Of course, when I read it, I was horribly in love for the first time, and separated from object of said affection for an extended period, with (later to turn out accurate) overtones of utter failure of this relationship... so it was very 'knife in the gut', not the best moment for literary analysis)

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Dazmilar » Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:25 am UTC

I'm glad I'm not the only one who was not moved by the supposed love story in His Dark Materials. Pullman may have decided to state near the end of The Amber Spyglass, "Oh yeah, they're in love," but the entire relationship throughout the second and third books reads more like the development of a nice friendship. The entire trilogy seemed mediocre at best. Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel both undertake actions in places that seem out of character but required by the author for purposes of plot. And while it's not a problem in The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife is riddled with POV problems that continue into The Amber Spyglass. Pullman uses a 3rd person limited, with occasional more omniscient passages for thematic context, which works fine. But when Lyra and Will are together in a chapter, there are multiple occurences of the POV drifting between the two.

If you're looking for something sci-fi which observes the light speed speed limit, and where FTL travel not being possible is crucial to the storyline, you should check out Pellegrino and Zebrowski's The Killing Star.

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby ian » Sun Mar 30, 2008 10:35 am UTC

SpitValve wrote:Re: mangling science

Two good axioms of pseudo-science in science fiction/fantasy:

1. You can get people to believe the impossible, but not the improbable.
2. You can only get people to believe the impossible if you do not try to explain that it is, in fact, possible.

I am happy to lose myself into a fantasy universe with multiple dimensions, magic talking stones and magic particles that make up our souls. But when the multiple dimensions are due to the Many-Worlds Interpretation of QM, the magic talking stones are due to quantum entanglement and the magic particles are actually dark matter, I can't help but say "No they aren't, it doesn't work that way."


But it's clearly fantasy, so why does it matter if it doesn't work that way? Why shouldn't he be able to mangle QM so he can make a science/magic book? Personally, while I think that Pullman isn't a great writer, I think the ideas in it are pretty cool, even if they have nothing to do with reality.He isn't there to educate the public on QM and I don't think he has any responsibility not to mess up science. No fiction writer does.

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Torvaun » Sun Mar 30, 2008 3:40 pm UTC

ian wrote:But it's clearly fantasy, so why does it matter if it doesn't work that way? Why shouldn't he be able to mangle QM so he can make a science/magic book? Personally, while I think that Pullman isn't a great writer, I think the ideas in it are pretty cool, even if they have nothing to do with reality.He isn't there to educate the public on QM and I don't think he has any responsibility not to mess up science. No fiction writer does.

Because he doesn't have to mess up science. He could have done all these things by inventing new science, the kind that runs on handwavium, just like almost everyone else does. Dust was absolutely fine, right up until it got described with the words "dark matter." Quantum entanglement likewise does not work that way, but at least that one is only explained once, so it's possible to ignore it, and just call them "singing stones" or something like that.

Bad terminology can ruin good fantasy. Pullman made good fantasy, then used bad terminology. Hence, ruined.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Joeldi » Thu May 15, 2008 11:25 am UTC

I've just finished the series as an adult ( I read it when I was 12 or so) and I can now see how The Amber Spyglass falls so short compared to the others. There was just a lot of stuff that didn't seem to be explained fully or make sense, and some stuff that just seemed gratuitous.

Even though this is actually a Subtle Knife thing, my biggest gripe is where Asrael's massive fortress and army came from about a week or two after he left his home world for the first time ever. Did I miss something?
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby lesliesage » Wed Sep 10, 2008 7:52 pm UTC

HDM fans: the Birmingham Reperatory Theatre is doing an adaptation, 13 March - 11 April, 2009. Anyone? I could do a weekend that's not March 28th.

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby ACU-LP » Fri Sep 26, 2008 12:21 pm UTC

Jesse wrote:I liked the third one the most of all, and still do. But I think that is because watching them fall in love felt so wonderful to me at the time, and still does and then the ending makes me cry every single time.

and there was me thinking I was the only one.

I adored the series; you could just immerse yourself in their world.
There isnt much else I can say really without detracting from the fact that it was just plain brilliant.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Smiling Hobo » Tue Sep 30, 2008 3:58 am UTC

I remember loving these books when I was younger--I don't remember too many specifics, however. I guess I'll have to reread the series...

As soon as I finish Dune...

And House of Leaves...

And Jane Eyre...

And Life of Pi...

And The Communist Manifesto...

And...

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Beacons! » Wed Oct 01, 2008 6:06 pm UTC

All discussions aside, are we all agreed that the only purpose of Serafina Pekkala is to be a consistant get-out clause?
We're all going to get killed by Tartars! Oh me yarm the witches are here!
We're going to get get killed by crazy children! Oh me yarm Serafina is here!
Seriously, its almost as bad the eagles in Tolkein.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Aequitas » Fri Oct 03, 2008 4:26 pm UTC

I was disappointed with the seperation of Lyla and Will at the end. It struck me as the author artificially placing a cost on them for what they did at the last minute. Surely they could've left a doorway between Lyra and Will's world for their lifetime without all of the Dust going away. Then, as soon as one of them died, close it. Lyra and Will get their due for being heroes instead of being screwed by their heroism. I would've much preferred the series if Lyra and Will had the courage to tell the universe it could burn for their love.

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Hexadecimator » Sat Nov 08, 2008 11:11 pm UTC

I read the series when I was twelve or so, but I just reread it over the last 3 days, so I thought I'd throw my two cents in:

The mangling of science was tolerable. Most of it was far enough removed from reality to allow for suspension of disbelief. Hive-minded subatomic particles that create consciousness? Sounds great. I can forgive labeling it dark matter because Mary only does so once, and her research is clearly in "shadows" not actual dark matter.
The rest of the books are a mixture of not-so-modern technology (zeppelins etc.) mixed with handwavium (eg. aircraft with unexplained means of propulsion controlled by thought).
The only part that actually threw me out of the story was the mention of entanglement. Unfortunately, this is so overused that the blame cannot be placed on Pullman, but the genre as a whole.

lazydilettante wrote:(I hope no one argues with me about their falling in love being the catalyst for their maturity, because Pullman beat it into readers' heads for 3 whole books that only mentally mature adults attract Dust, and that a daemon's settling is a sign of their human's entrance into true adult maturity--and those things don't happen for Lyra and Will until right after they fall in love.)
Read it again.
The dust thing was jarring, abrupt, and somewhat unexplained, but it had to do with the witches' prophecy, not maturity. Lyra "fell from the garden," and that caused the dust to stop leaking out long enough for the angels to fill the giant hole. I have a hard time believing that a pair of children can fall so strongly in love as to change the entire universe, but she clearly did not "fall" by being too mature.

The daemons, however, do indeed settle when they become mature. They settle immediately after Lyra and Will make the decision to give up their love for the good of everyone else, the sensible and mature thing to do. Earlier in the series, Will decided that Lyra was more important than the fate of the universe, but here he decides that she is not, no matter how much he loves her. This is the moment when they become adults, the moment they become capable of rational thought.


Overall, I liked it the second time through. The ending was still heartrending, but I suppose I will always be a sucker for that. The anti-religious sentiment comes out much more strongly now that I understand what he's talking about. Some bits were over-explained (eg. quantum entanglement, dark matter), and some were horribly under-explained (How the hell did Asrael get his giant mountain fortress and fancy impossible aircraft in such a short timespan?). But if you just read it and let the story carry you along, it turns out to be quite a good series.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Joeldi » Sun Nov 09, 2008 9:35 am UTC

Hexadecimator wrote: Everything


Everything you said, I agree with, although I didn't spend any time dwelling on what the story meant. I think I was too hung up on where the hell Azrael's army came from too worry very much on why their daemon's settled.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
EDIT: I dunno whether I should start a new thread to talk about the Sally Lockhart books, because they're not really notable, and Phillip Pullman in general is mostly covered here anyway.

The first three were, if not great, at least kept me entertained, and threw some originality in there somewhere, but The Tin Princess is just terrible - every character is a Mary Sue or a Wesley, and the god damn titular character I spent three books learning to like ISN'T IN IT. Mostly, though, the book reminds me of Bram Stoker's Lady of the Shroud for some reason, which was probably the most horrible book I've ever read.
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby DarkKnightJared » Fri Nov 21, 2008 5:58 pm UTC

I liked it when I first read it. I think I was more focused on the story then on the actual themes of it when I was reading it, so I've been meaning to re-read it with those in mind.

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ameretrifle
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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby ameretrifle » Sat Nov 22, 2008 8:35 am UTC

I loved the first book. But... since The Subtle Knife's the shortest book anyway, I think he should've spent several more chapters introducing Will. It just seemed to me like we spent all this time being told "Will is awesome and he misses his mother and everyone thinks he's cool", without being shown any of these things. So the respect he immediately gets from each and every one of the characters (until Balthamus, which is probably why I immediately liked Balthamus) doesn't feel right, since we barely even know this kid. And he was a "murderer" because someone tripped over his friend Catherine? Whatever.

I didn't much like Will, myself. He seemed like a cardboard cutout to me-- too much the "noble" Adam of Milton, too little anything else. Never scared, never wrong that I can recall-- stiff upper lip's one thing, but sweet lord. I also wasn't very fond of who Lyra became when she was around him. Loved Mary Malone, though. She makes the third book worth it.

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby natraj » Sat Nov 22, 2008 7:22 pm UTC

ameretrifle wrote:I also wasn't very fond of who Lyra became when she was around him. Loved Mary Malone, though. She makes the third book worth it.


I reeeeeally hated Lyra when she was with Will all throughout the second book. I thought she got a bit better in the third book again, but never as awesome as she was on her own in the first book. It was like, in the first book she is this awesome clever independent awesome girl, and then suddenly Will shows up, and through most of the second book she is just like "Oh gosh I am far too stupid to ever do anything on my own so I am just going to wait and do exactly anything Will orders me to and nothing else. Ever. Because I am a silly thoughtless girl." It was totally grating.
You want to know the future, love? Then wait:
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The cards and stars that tumble as they will.

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby evren » Mon Nov 24, 2008 6:33 am UTC

I first read the series when I was somewhere around the age of the protagonists, maybe 11 or 12, and I came out of it reeling. I still remember how I felt when I finished them. I originally liked The Nothern Lights the most because I heavily related with Lyra at the time. After many readings, I find that I'm most fond of the third book, despite the Author Tract. I like the second book well enough, but I also have a hard time swallowing Lyra's behavior around Will (which was less noticeable when I was younger). I'm always saddened by the end of the series, but I'm not really invested in Lyra and Will's relationship, either. It was a different story when I first read the book, since I was a prepubescent girl at the time, haha. I'll never stop loving the series as a whole, regardless of its faults.

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Re: His Dark Materials

Postby Jorpho » Thu Dec 21, 2017 5:26 am UTC

Woo, nine-year bump. I didn't realize The Book of Dust had been announced so long ago! It finally came out recently, if you missed the news, and the BBC series might actually be happening.

But I just read the trilogy for the first time myself. It seems to me like Pullman clearly had some very different ideas about where the story was supposed to go before he got to The Amber Spyglass. ("Remember how I said I was going to destroy Dust? Well, I lied, haha!" "I made a vow to kill that person with this arrow! Whoops, there it goes!") Perhaps his storehouse of unused ideas is what got the production of new ones moving.

My biggest beef is how Mary notes that three hundred years ago corresponded to the invention of the alethiometer, the forging of the subtle knife, and the founding of the Royal Society – but then it turns out that the subtle knife itself was responsible for starting the drain of Dust from the worlds, and wouldn't that have the opposite effect of starting an unusual surge of creativity and invention?

The way people go on about these books, I was expecting the anti-religious sentiment to be a lot more heavy-handed, but you could readily ignore it outside of a few lines in the first two books – maybe not so much the third.

I think the description of the Specter attack in the second book was the most chilling thing for me. The endless rambling about how "Will and Lyra were tired and nauseous and in so much pain and they were tired" in the third book started to wear a bit, and the subsequent "Will and Lyra were in love and the loving loveliness was lovely loved loving" didn't do much for me at all. I also notice that Pullman is much too fond of describing things as "turned gold by the sunlight" (or various subtle variations on that theme) and "astringent".

But on the whole, quite nice books; I can see why they're so popular. That's part of what makes looking at the flaws so engaging.


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