1. I just finished reading S.M Stirling’s A Meeting at Corvallis, the third book in his Changeverse series, and in my opinion the best in the trilogy. Dies the Fire is dark, rather bleak because it’s about the death of civilization. The Protector’s War looks up quite a bit, focusing more on how people begin to rebuild and form new societies; but is the middle book in the trilogy. AMAC is definitely the best thus far. And as Dale Price promised in the comments at Dom’s blog, it is more Catholic. (For which, no small credit goes to Dale, who is credited by Stirling for his advice on all things Catholic. And there is one detail that made me laugh out loud. If you’ve read the book, and are Catholic, you probably know what I mean.)
I’m fascinated by the whole idea of the Change. And I think it’s interesting how each of the societies takes so much of its color from the founder(s). I thought the writing seemed tighter, the character arcs more interesting, the action better paced.
I like Juniper and the Clan Mackenzie; but am still bothered by the Wiccan thing. Mostly because Stirling takes it so seriously and not only goes into details of the rituals and prayers,, but shows that the powers are real, the mystical experiences are real. And maybe I’m just more attuned to this sort of thing living in Salem where there are so many real Wiccans. The thing for me is, I do take Wicca seriously. It is a real religion and the powers they call on do have real consequences. But the way I see it, being Catholic, supernatural power can only come from one of two places. And they aren’t calling on the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The idea of a good witch is nice. And I think there are nice people who practice Wicca. But they are playing with fire. The powers that come when they call are not the nice kind. So ultimately I find Juniper’s mystical experiences unbelievable. Someone that deep into ritual magic is not going to be unscathed by the very real stuff they are calling on. (Now I’m gonna duck cause that’s sure to get a pagan or two on my case.)
2. I also just finished A Canticle for Leibowitz.
[Warning: Spoilers ahead!!!]
I’ve gotta say. I feel very strong like and dislike for this book. On one hand, it’s a fascinating story. And it has to be the absolute hands-down best portrayal of the Church in science fiction. Every detail struck me as true. And I had to cheer at how strongly it adhered to the Church’s pro-life stance. The passages where the Church condemns both abortion and euthanasia are great, especially the defense of the humanity of thos mutants who are hideously misshapen after the nuclear holocaust who secular society wants to label unhuman.
But I hated the feeling of having the rug pulled out from under me. When the main character is killed at the end of the first section and then again at the end of the second section, I felt betrayed by the author. I consequently had a hard time getting through the last third of the book. The jump was just too much and I had a hard time caring. Until the very end, then I started to really care about the abbot.
And the world view is just so bleak. So cold war. Destruction is inevitable and we’ll never learn our lesson. I know, there’s the hope of the colonies. But I guess I’m as much a child of my time as the book is of it’s time. I refuse to believe things will ever get so bad that there is no human life on this planet. I see where he’s coming from. I remember that outlook. I remember when I realized exactly what mutually assured destruction meant. The tight knot in the pit of my stomach. But I was in high school when the Berlin Wall came down. And I have seen the Soviet Empire crumble. I don’t want to go back to that awful place. I don’t like being sucked back and so I resented the book.
Ok. It’s getting late. I’ve got more thoughts on the book; but I’ll have to get to it later. I look forward to a good discussion with Father Barry, as promised. And anyone else who cares to jump in.