Two New Superversive SF Posts

First up is “Retrospective: “A Wrinkle in Time”, by Madeline L’Engle”. An excerpt:

You can’t really summarize the plot. It’s just too bizarre. To give you an idea, at one point Meg is rescued from the control of a giant, sentient brain and brought to live under the care of a blind monster who goes by the name of Auntie Beast. At another point, the protagonists are accidentally brought into a two-dimensional world and nearly suffocate to death – and this has absolutely nothing to do with the plot and is never mentioned again. And at ANOTHER point, it turns out that one of the main characters is really a fallen star who looks like a flying centaur and is just masquerading as a human woman.

And that’s not even why the book is worth reading! It’s the characters. Madeline L’Engle has a gift of characterization that I’ve only ever seen in one other author, the brilliant C.S. Lewis. L’Engle’s characters almost immediately jump off the page at you, real and solid.

And next there’s “Retro Review: ‘Watership Down'”. And why is this one a review and the other a retrospective? Because I said so, that’s why. An excerpt:

This book was outstanding. I’m not going to say that Adams was as good with his characters as L’Engle, Lewis, or T.H. White. That would be a step too far. But he was very, very good. Hazel, Fiver, and Bigwig in particular are extremely well-drawn. Bigwig was definitely my favorite, and had my favorite character arc in the book, from arrogant bully to stalwart soldier. He is humbled by Fiver and Hazel, who end up in the right, contrary to him, more than once – and to Bigwig’s credit, he accepts his humbling with good grace, and becomes Hazel’s most dependable rabbit. If Hazel is the most heroic and selfless of all of them, Bigwig is certainly a close second. And from the beginning of the book to the end, that’s a heck of a character arc.

Oh, I forgot one: General Woundwart. What a magnificent villain, complex and frightening. Woundwart has just enough admirable qualities that right up until he refuses Hazel’s parlay for peace you feel just a little bit bad for taking him down. After that, you want vengeance…and the warren gets it.

Comment here, there, or both, whatever tickles your fancy.

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5 Responses to Two New Superversive SF Posts

  1. dpmonahan says:

    I read A Wrinkle in Time as a small boy and had a hard time getting into it, it was a little above my age level and the main character was a girl. I read a sequel that featured Meg’s twin brothers going back in time to before the Flood, and thought it much better, though probably just because I was older.

    Watership Down! I loved the movie from the age of four and the book from about ten. People say it is too violent for kids, but I saw it not as gratuitous violence but as a serious story. It was beautiful too – very small children can have an experience of beauty if you let them.
    The group dynamics are great: Hazel is the leader in spite of not being the strongest (Bigwig) or the smartest (Blackberry) or the prophet (Fiver) but because he is able to manage all these personalities, win them over with his example, and even on occasion manipulate them. Adams based Hazel and Bigwig on officers he had known during WWII.

    • I really loved the scene where Bigwig announces that he will stay to defend the run, because he was ordered to by his Chief Rabbit, and all of the Efrafan rabbits are terrified because they can’t conceive of a Chief who doesn’t hold power by virtue of being the strongest physically. A wonderful moment.

  2. GRA says:

    Excellent choices. AWiT is one of favorite books regardless of its age demographic. I have not read WD, but I have seen the movie which I really like. The ending monologue is just fantastic.

    • The movie is a pretty accurate adaptation, but the book is better.

      AWiT is brilliant, and mandatory reading for anybody interested in sci-fi – ESPECIALLY superversive SF. It is one of the most superversive books ever written.

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