Star Trek Ensigns etc.

McMullin, Elise emcmullin at
Wed Dec 22 18:13:49 EST 1999

	"To all you lovely people who mentioned and recommended "Freedom and
> Necessity" and "Sorcery and Cecelia", my heartiest thanks!  I've just
> emerged from a Polly-like bout of reading, and oh! what lovely books those
> are!"
	Glad you liked them!

The rest of this may contain spoilers for Freedom and Necessity:

	"What I also found really nifty was the way all the characters
seemed fragile--I was not sure that they'd all make it through the book, and
I desperately
> wanted them to."
	Say, you're so right about that.  I had forgotten how low I rated
the survival of some of the characters, particularly James C., but also
Richard.  And I hadn't thought too hard about James's dubious history -
hmmmmm.  I may have to read that again soon.

	"And here I must pick up on something I think Elise mentioned--the
> proverbial Star Trek ensign's uniform"
	The Dreaded Red Tunic. ("noooo, please! Anything but the red
tunic!")  I dunno, tunic sounds more interesting than the red Shirt or the
red Pullover.  How 'bout The Scarlet Pullover?

	"I find I always grow very fond of doomed-seeming characters,
> and I thoroughly second the opinion that I'd like to read a book where a 
> doomed-seeming character lives happily ever after.  (In fact, I'd like
> to write one, but that's another matter entirely.)  "
	Me too, I mean, the fondness part.  I end up resenting the main
character for being so lucky as to survive.  Probably not the author's
intent ;)

	"The other side of that coin I think is that it must be very
> for a writer not just to make the doomed characters not seem too obviously
> doomed, but also to make the non-doomed characters seem fragile enough
> for suspense.  (I wonder how that works, precisely.  What are the elements
> of a Convincingly Doomed Character?  Can one even pin them down?)"
	This has a Water Music by T.C. Boyle spoiler and a Jazz, by Toni
Morrison spoiler:

	Interesting question.  I can point to some elements which make me
suspicious that I am reading about a Doomed Character.   The real giveaway
is if the Main Character really cares about them, but they are not essential
to the outcome of the plot.  Luke's foster parents.  Mungo Parke's guide
Johnson in Water Music (not that they were family but that Johnson was
freighted with wit and gifts, they were friends, and clearly it would be
sooo much more harrowing for Mungo to have to go on without Johnson).  I'd
like to see a Doomed Character stand up and say, "I refuse to sacrifice my
existence in order to whip up your emotions and spur you on to action, you
selfish, egotistical Main Character.  Figure it out for yourself.  I'm going

	Actually, on that note - Jazz by Toni Morrison.  LOVED that ending.
That is EXACTLY what she did.  Pardon the caps but I only just put 2 and 2
together.  I loved the ending before, but I didn't realize before how much I
loved it by contrast.

	"I thought F&N was splendid that way, and DWJ also does this
> well.  Reading Hexwood, I trembled for Mordion.  I had a very nasty
> feeling that he wouldn't make it to the end of the book. Ditto Hern
> of Spellcoats, and quite a number of people in The Homeward Bounders."
	Many DWJ Spoilers (Hexwood, Cart & Cwidder, Drowned Ammet):

	You are so right.  I really never thought about that before.  I
totally had Mordion, Jamie, Dagner (or was it Dagnar?), Ynen, Hern --- I
thought they All were Toast the first time I read those books.  I must pause
and reflect upon the wonderfulness of dwj.

And now for the Lord of the Rings spoilers (although, can anyone really not

	"I had the same sinking feeling about Aragorn, actually--not until
> into the third book could I escape the thought that he'd meet some noble
> death."
	Really?  I hadn't thought of him, but my dad read that to us when I
was 7, so I think that was still in the era when I was surprised, shocked
and dismayed every time a Star Trek ensign bit the dust.  And boy! Was I
scared when he read about Bree and Weathertop - whew! *That* was a great
kids' book - snuffling dark riders - unbelievably creepy!  And Frodo putting
on the ring when he really ought not to - I really identified with that sort
of thing as a kid.  And Moria!  Eeeek!  I digress - this is probably a whole
other thread of - what was great about LOTR before time and reading a
million derivatives jaded you?  Say, parents, have you read this to your
kids yet?  Did they like it?

	I do recall thinking that Boromir was a gimme, upon re-reading it
not too many years later.  I felt like it was euthanasia as opposed to if
Tolkein had kept him around and showed us the effects of the ring's

	"I don't object to noble ends in principle--I rather like non-modern
> tragedy--but I do like to see my favourite characters survive, if it's 
> justified."
	A lot of times in modern tragic situations in books (and definitely
in movies), I don't think the surviving characters get upset Enough.  It
gives the game away, too.  To me it suggests that either the main character
is emotionally shallow, to bounce back in a few hours from all the pain -
and to only think of it thereafter when it is handy to the plot - or it
suggests I am reading a thin tissue of lies - gasp!  

	I liked where, in the movie Until the End of the World (it was so
long I thought it might continue until the end of the world, too), a
character passes away and you see people being Upset.  For a While.  I'd
need suggestions to remind me of any other movie that does that.
	The verbosity peters out.....

	(Happy Holidays to all having holidays!)
To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at

More information about the Dwj mailing list