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RE: [mythsoc] Re:Golden Compass/Northern Lights Award

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  • Mike Foster
    During my term teaching in Canterbury at Canterbury Christ Church University College in spring 2004, NORTHERN LIGHTS was one of the three assigned novels on
    Message 1 of 20 , Jun 25, 2007
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      During my term teaching in Canterbury at Canterbury Christ Church
      University College in spring 2004, NORTHERN LIGHTS was one of the three
      assigned novels on the syllabus in the Fiction & Drama course for
      underclass English majors. While it certainly started out very well, it
      was, as noted below, incomplete and thus unfulfilling. A few of the
      students had read the others and their verdict was similar to WCH's.

      THE BORROWERS, which I first read as a child, would have earned my
      sentimental vote; all of the series' volumes were well-wrought. I
      re-read as an adult years ago and they held up quite well.

      Far Westfarthing smial here in west-central Illinois has discussed
      adding GC/NL to our agenda for reading before the film appears.

      Cheers,
      Mike

      -----Original Message-----
      From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
      Of William Cloud Hicklin
      Sent: Monday, June 25, 2007 10:17 AM
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [mythsoc] Re:Golden Compass/Northern Lights Award

      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups <mailto:mythsoc%40yahoogroups.com> .com, John
      D Rateliff
      <sacnoth@...> wrote:

      >That Pullman utterly
      > failed to deliver on the promise of this first book
      doesn't, to my
      > mind, detract from his achievement, anymore than
      THE TOMBS OF ATUAN
      > diminishes A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA, or Book V of THE
      FAERIE QUEENE
      > diminishes Books III & IV.

      I can't concur. GC isn't a book in its own right,
      like Wizard of Earthsea, but merely Volume 1, like
      Fellowship. It can't to my mind be judged
      independent of the other volumes, and like David, I
      find the third in particular to be a trainwreck: Act
      III of Faust as imagined by William Burroughs.



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Walkermonk@aol.com
      I missed this, since I tend to skip Mr. Rateliff s posts. Just want to state for the record that The Tombs of Atuan is a fantastic book, absolutely worthy of
      Message 2 of 20 , Jun 25, 2007
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        I missed this, since I tend to skip Mr. Rateliff's posts. Just want to state
        for the record that "The Tombs of Atuan" is a fantastic book, absolutely
        worthy of following "A Wizard of Earthsea" and an excellent compliment to it. Far
        from diminishing from Wizard, it adds immeasurably to the development of Ged
        and shows more of the Earthsea world and its inhabitants.

        Just had to show Atuan some love -- now back to the debate about Pullman,
        whom I care nothing for and think very little of his writing, and certainly not
        enough to argue about him when others are doing such heavy lifting for me, so
        to speak.

        Grace Walker Monk


        In a message dated 6/25/2007 10:18:53 AM Central Daylight Time,
        solicitr@... writes:

        --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, John D Rateliff
        <sacnoth@...> wrote:

        >That Pullman utterly
        > failed to deliver on the promise of this first book
        doesn't, to my
        > mind, detract from his achievement, anymore than
        THE TOMBS OF ATUAN
        > diminishes A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA, or Book V of THE
        FAERIE QUEENE
        > diminishes Books III & IV.





        ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • David Bratman
        I read about the first half of the first Pullman volume, and found it an extremely poor book for several reasons - the polemics were so heavy-handed that they
        Message 3 of 20 , Jun 25, 2007
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          I read about the first half of the first Pullman volume, and found it an
          extremely poor book for several reasons - the polemics were so heavy-handed
          that they irritated me even where I agreed with Pullman's philosophy, and
          the book isn't written in the "fairy tale" style (as Narnia is, for
          instance) that can excuse dogmatics; the structure and politics of the
          secondary world were grossly oversimple, a fatal objection when it's
          supposed to be the high politics of an alternate reality of our modern
          world; and the daemons were as irritating as the Ewoks and E.T., and that's
          about as irritating as is possible short of Jar Jar Binks. On top of which
          the plot wasn't very interesting or engrossing.

          And that, I was assured, is the good part!

          If that's the great fantasy of the 90s, then the field truly has become a
          scorched desert.

          Comparing it to the magnificent and profound _Watership Down_ reminds me of
          the Monty Python sketch about how 9 out of 10 British women can't tell the
          difference between Whizzo butter and a dead crab.

          About the subsequent volumes I can't speak, except to note that by all
          accounts they are one story and so complaints I've read about the rampant
          illogic of volume three do reflect back on volume one, the same way that if
          Frodo had just dropped the Ring in the volcano and gone home, no harm no
          hurt no foul, it would have been a blemish on the whole LOTR and not merely
          volume three.

          Contrary, as Grace Monk says, to Earthsea. I'll leave volumes 4+ out of
          this, but the original trilogy is a true trilogy, three separate stories,
          and if _Farthest Shore_ is a little damp at times it's still a magnificent
          adventure, and _The Tombs of Atuan_ is every bit as good as _Wizard_, maybe
          better as it has a more unified plot: it's only flawed if you expect it to
          be told from Ged's viewpoint; whereas I found identifying him to be a major
          joy of a first spoiler-free reading.

          However, I doubt that Pullman's award went to a lousy book because the
          judges were atheists who wanted to give one in the eye to Tolkien and
          Lewis. That kind of tendentious misreading of people's motives is the kind
          of thing I'd expect to find in a Pullman novel. It makes much more sense
          to assume that, like John Rateliff - no Tolkien-hater he - they actually
          thought it was a good book.
        • John D Rateliff
          ... Yes, it s a sentimental favorite of mine as well; read and re-read them over and over in days gone by (except for POOR STAINLESS, which I could have done
          Message 4 of 20 , Jun 25, 2007
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            On Jun 25, 2007, at 8:28 AM, Mike Foster wrote:
            > THE BORROWERS, which I first read as a child, would have earned my
            > sentimental vote; all of the series' volumes were well-wrought. I
            > re-read as an adult years ago and they held up quite well.

            Yes, it's a sentimental favorite of mine as well; read and re-read
            them over and over in days gone by (except for POOR STAINLESS, which
            I could have done without). Though I think ARE ALL THE GIANTS DEAD?
            is actually a better book than any of them, excepting possibly the
            original THE BORROWERS, I didn't discover that until years later.


            On Jun 25, 2007, at 9:43 AM, David Bratman wrote:
            > _The Tombs of Atuan_ is every bit as good as _Wizard_, maybe
            > better as it has a more unified plot: it's only flawed if you
            > expect it to
            > be told from Ged's viewpoint; whereas I found identifying him to be
            > a major
            > joy of a first spoiler-free reading.

            Afraid that can't explain my reaction, since I read TOMBS first, with
            no preconceptions whatsoever about who should be in it. It was the
            first fantasy I read after discovering Tolkien, handed to me by
            someone who said "If you liked Tolkien, you'll like this". I hated it
            so much I didn't read any more LeGuin again for five years, when I
            discovered THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, discovered just how good a
            writer she was, and went back to give Earthsea another try. The first
            book is magnificent; the second does not improve for me on a second,
            third, or even fourth reading (love the setting, hate the story,
            uninterested in the characters); the third is, as LeGuin says, an
            ambitious failure but the good parts are very good, so I'm fine with
            that. I'm glad the middle book has its admirers, though, and that
            they get something out of it that I can't. My favorite Earthsea is
            actually "The Rule of Names", not just for obvious reasons but
            because it didn't feature any of the main characters: I wish she'd
            changed her cast entirely with each new book rather than revisiting
            the same characters time and time again.

            On Jun 24, 2007, at 4:31 PM, John D Rateliff wrote:
            >> just as I rank Pullman's the best of the 1980s.
            > Sorry: obviously, that should have read "best of the 1990s".

            --for the 1980s I would pick THE BRIDGE OF BIRDS for that honor.

            --JDR
          • David Bratman
            ... Oh dear. That kind of salesmanship was the bane of my existence throughout my teens, so I sympathize. The problem is that other books may be good, but
            Message 5 of 20 , Jun 25, 2007
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              At 11:07 AM 6/25/2007 -0700, John D Rateliff wrote:

              >Afraid that can't explain my reaction, since I read TOMBS first, with
              >no preconceptions whatsoever about who should be in it. It was the
              >first fantasy I read after discovering Tolkien, handed to me by
              >someone who said "If you liked Tolkien, you'll like this".

              Oh dear. That kind of salesmanship was the bane of my existence throughout
              my teens, so I sympathize. The problem is that other books may be good,
              but while you're anxiously waiting for _The Silmarillion_ to be published,
              nothing by anybody else will scratch that Tolkien itch.

              A few books I read in those days were good enough on their own terms, and
              sufficiently individual and distinctive as LOTR was, to overcome this
              burden: the Earthsea books and _Watership Down_ among them. Others, like
              the Conan stories, had nothing in common with Tolkien except for having
              heroism in a vaguely barbaric setting, and I couldn't figure out why people
              were recommending them to me at all.


              >--for the 1980s I would pick THE BRIDGE OF BIRDS for that honor.

              A delightful, colorful book. But not what I would call a great fantasy by
              any standard. The book from that decade, indeed even the very same year,
              that I keep returning to is _Fire and Hemlock_, which I still consider
              Diana Wynne Jones's best.
            • Cathy Akers-Jordan
              ... I had the same problem as a teen/college student, John. After reading LotR at 15, I quickly learned to avoid any books that friends or cover blurbs
              Message 6 of 20 , Jun 26, 2007
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                > It was the first fantasy I read after discovering Tolkien, handed to
                > me by someone who said "If you liked Tolkien, you'll like this".

                I had the same problem as a teen/college student, John. After reading
                LotR at 15, I quickly learned to avoid any books that friends or cover
                blurbs compared to Tolkien because 1. *nothing* could compare, 2. it
                was usually nothing like LotR, and 3. I usually hated it (like
                Sharnara and Thomas Covenant, which I've mentioned before).

                For years I didn't read sword-and-sorcery fantasy because nothing
                could compare to an epic like LotR and I hated the books my friends
                thought were wonderful. I liked Piers Anothy in high school but
                outgrew him long before my friends did. I read things like Watership
                Down, Ray Bradbury, and lots mysteries (still love those!) -- until I
                discovered Harry Potter. :)

                Now I see I have lots of catching up to do!

                So many books, so little time,

                Cathy
              • alexeik@aol.com
                ... From: John D Rateliff To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Sent: Mon, 25 Jun 2007 2:07 pm Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re:Golden Compass/Northern
                Message 7 of 20 , Jun 26, 2007
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                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: John D Rateliff <sacnoth@...>
                  To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                  Sent: Mon, 25 Jun 2007 2:07 pm
                  Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re:Golden Compass/Northern Lights Award






                  On Jun 24, 2007, at 4:31 PM, John D Rateliff wrote:
                  >> just as I rank Pullman's the best of the 1980s.
                  > Sorry: obviously, that should have read "best of the 1990s".

                  --for the 1980s I would pick THE BRIDGE OF BIRDS for that honor.

                  --JDR
                  <<

                  I might have said _Little, Big_.
                  Alexei





                  ________________________________________________________________________
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                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • lynnmaudlin
                  So why did The Golden Compass/Northern Lights win, instead of the whole His Dark Materials book? *confused* Reading the variety of responses and reactions
                  Message 8 of 20 , Jun 26, 2007
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                    So why did "The Golden Compass/Northern Lights" win, instead of the
                    whole "His Dark Materials" book? *confused*

                    Reading the variety of responses and reactions to this and LeGuin and
                    others, I can only think "Your Mileage May Vary--" we are individuals
                    and respond as such. This is a good thing, imho.

                    -- Lynn --

                    --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "William Cloud Hicklin" <solicitr@...>
                    wrote:
                    >
                    > I can't concur. GC isn't a book in its own right,
                    > like Wizard of Earthsea, but merely Volume 1, like
                    > Fellowship. It can't to my mind be judged
                    > independent of the other volumes, and like David, I
                    > find the third in particular to be a trainwreck: Act
                    > III of Faust as imagined by William Burroughs.
                    >
                  • WendellWag@aol.com
                    In a message dated 6/26/2007 10:32:42 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, lynnmaudlin@yahoo.com writes: So why did The Golden Compass/Northern Lights win, instead
                    Message 9 of 20 , Jun 26, 2007
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                      In a message dated 6/26/2007 10:32:42 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
                      lynnmaudlin@... writes:

                      So why did "The Golden Compass/Northern Lights" win, instead of the
                      whole "His Dark Materials" book? *confused*



                      Because, as I said in my post last night, the whole nomination procedure was
                      very arcane. They started with all the winners of the Carnegie Medal. _His
                      Dark Materials_ was never voted on as a single book for the Carnegie. Only
                      the part published as _The Golden Compass_ won a Carnegie. Then some
                      committee decided that the following ten books were the finalists and they were the
                      only books that the online voters could choose from:

                      David Almond _David Al
                      Melvin Burgess _Junk_
                      <WBR><WBR>Kevin Crossley-Holland
                      Jennifer Donnelly _A Jennifer Donnelly
                      Alan Garner _The Owl Service_
                      Eve Garnett Eve Garnett <WBR><WBR>_The Family
                      <WBR><WBR><WBR><WBR><WBR><WB
                      Philippa Pearce Philippa Pearce <WBR><WBR
                      Philip Pullman Philip Pullman <WBR><W
                      Robert WestallRobert Westall<WBR><W

                      The online voters chose _The Golden Compass_, possibly because it was the
                      only one that they had read (or even heard of).

                      Wendell Wagner




                      ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • WendellWag@aol.com
                      The book titles and authors got screwed up somehow, and I don t have time to figure out why. Look at the Wikipedia entry for the Carnegie Medal. There s a
                      Message 10 of 20 , Jun 26, 2007
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                        The book titles and authors got screwed up somehow, and I don't have time to
                        figure out why. Look at the Wikipedia entry for the Carnegie Medal.
                        There's a list of the ten finalists there.

                        Wendell Wagner



                        ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com


                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Diane Joy Baker
                        Oh, of course it did. If first volume is part of a series I can t separate what happens in the first book from what happens later in subsequent books, and
                        Message 11 of 20 , Jun 27, 2007
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                          Oh, of course it did. If first volume is part of a series I can't separate what happens in the first book from what happens later in subsequent books, and since he's so millitant, it shows in the later work. So although I enjoyed some aspects of *Golden Compass* I would not be able to give it my vote.

                          More things to add to my To Read pile, continually getting larger.

                          ----- Original Message -----
                          From: William Cloud Hicklin
                          To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                          Sent: Monday, June 25, 2007 10:58 AM
                          Subject: [mythsoc] Re: Golden Compass/Northern Lights Award


                          I can't help but suspect that Pullman's open
                          contempt for Tolkien and Lewis, as well as his
                          militant atheism, garnered him quite a few votes
                          from the Literati.





                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Diane Joy Baker
                          I certainly enjoyed Atuan; still hold some images in my mind from that book after years of not reading it. That s a compliment. ... From: Walkermonk@aol.com
                          Message 12 of 20 , Jun 27, 2007
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                            I certainly enjoyed Atuan; still hold some images in my mind from that book after years of not reading it. That's a compliment.

                            ----- Original Message -----
                            From: Walkermonk@...
                            To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                            Sent: Monday, June 25, 2007 11:43 AM
                            Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re:Golden Compass/Northern Lights Award



                            I missed this, since I tend to skip Mr. Rateliff's posts. Just want to state
                            for the record that "The Tombs of Atuan" is a fantastic book, absolutely
                            worthy of following "A Wizard of Earthsea" and an excellent compliment to it. Far
                            from diminishing from Wizard, it adds immeasurably to the development of Ged
                            and shows more of the Earthsea world and its inhabitants.

                            Just had to show Atuan some love -- now back to the debate about Pullman,
                            whom I care nothing for and think very little of his writing, and certainly not
                            enough to argue about him when others are doing such heavy lifting for me, so
                            to speak.

                            Grace Walker Monk


                            In a message dated 6/25/2007 10:18:53 AM Central Daylight Time,
                            solicitr@... writes:

                            --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, John D Rateliff
                            <sacnoth@...> wrote:

                            >That Pullman utterly
                            > failed to deliver on the promise of this first book
                            doesn't, to my
                            > mind, detract from his achievement, anymore than
                            THE TOMBS OF ATUAN
                            > diminishes A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA, or Book V of THE
                            FAERIE QUEENE
                            > diminishes Books III & IV.

                            ************************************** See what's free at http://www.aol.com

                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • John D Rateliff
                            Just a quick note to ask if anybody who d found errata in THE HISTORY OF THE HOBBIT could drop me a line off-list (sacnoth@earthlink.net) to let me know about
                            Message 13 of 20 , Dec 2, 2007
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                              Just a quick note to ask if anybody who'd found errata in THE HISTORY
                              OF THE HOBBIT could drop me a line off-list (sacnoth@...)
                              to let me know about them, so I can fix them for the trade paperback.
                              Think I've found most of them by now, but you never know; better
                              hearing again about one I've caught than missing one I didn't spot.
                              TIme is a factor, though, so if you know of any please let me know
                              right away.
                              Thanks all.
                              --John R.
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