Book Log – Northern Lights (or) The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass (or Northern Lights) By Philip Pullman

“I’d hire myself an armored bear.” – Sam Elliot

I saw the trailer for the upcoming The Golden Compass adaptation (opens Dec 7), and decided this looked like an interesting story. Reviews compared if favorably with the The Chronicles of Narnia and a small buzz has been created about this trilogy being an atheist’s answer to the 9-part Narnia series.

The original British title was Northern Lights, but for some reason was released as The Golden Compass in the U.S. Honestly, I think Compass is the more intriguing title.

The first book has a nice texture to it that should lend well to the film, a little bit fantasy and a little bit steampunk. The writing is engaging and the universe of the Compass is believable.

One of the fundamental premises is that the “souls” of people in this world are actually instantiated in a physical animal known as a daemon. The daemons travel with you and act as confidant and “soulmate”. A person’s character is reflected in the form the daemon takes. (Servants usually have dogs as their daemon). Children’s daemons shape shift constantly as their personalities are in development.

I was talking with terracinque about this first book, and we both agreed that if Mr. Pullman did anything well (and he did many things well) he communicated the relationship of person and daemon very clearly and made us care about it.

The only downside to this book is that is very clearly only part of a story. Whereas The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, for example, could comfortably stand on its own, we are not through with the story of Compass at the end and many things are left unexplained.

As for the reported anti-Christian rhetoric, the first book has little. There is a Science vs. The Church theme which will undoubtedly develop further in the coming books. My impression is this is less anti-religion and more anti-dogma.

Good read. I look forward to the film.

Modern Home Economics

I was just reading a post in dooce.com, which I heartily recommend, and read a line that said “…blast on the stereo while unloading the dishwasher.”

Only I thought it said “…uploading the dishwasher.” And I decided from that point on, I would refer to it as uploading and downloading the dishes from or to the dishwasher.

Also, I can’t wait to get home and download a Coke from the fridge.