Diane Duane (was the ambiguous nature of Faery)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Thu Jul 29 01:41:53 EDT 1999

>> > So You Want to Be a Wizard?  -- Nita & Kit, brilliant
>> > Deep Wizardry -- Nita & Kit, brilliant

>I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't like this series.  I read _So You
>Want to Be a Wizard_ because a lot of people in rec.arts.books.childrens who
>like DWJ seemed to like these too, and I was sadly disappointed.

I think the reason I like it is twofold--I like the ideas Diane Duane comes
up with, and I'd like to be a wizard myself.  The books are on the surface
about fighting evil, but the essence of them is "here's how ordinary kids
become extraordinary, and anyone can do it!"  That's a pretty appealing
theme for some readers.  I also like a series of books by Wilanne Schneider
Belden (Mind-Call, Mind-Hold, Mind-Find) for essentially the same reason
(only with paranormal abilities instead of magic).

Orson Scott Card has said there are essentially four "types" of story, four
main driving forces that novels fall into:  Character, Idea, Plot, and
Milieu.  (Did I get those right?  It's 11:30 p.m. and I've been getting
ready for a camping trip all day.  Still getting ready.  My brain went on
strike about half an hour ago when I informed it I would be answering email
instead of watching The Brittas Empire on PBS.)  There's some overlap, of
course, but it's less a straitjacket than a way of categorizing books for
discussion and comparison purposes.  The Lord of the Rings, for example, is
a milieu book, even though the Plot of "defeat the Dark Lord" is also
important--you can tell by the wide variety of cultures the Fellowship
visits.  Diane Duane writes Idea books (there are wizards fighting an
eternal battle with and against the forces of entropy).

DWJ is unusual because her books are all multi-type.  You've got wizards
ruling the city (Archer's Goon) but the story's about how Howard copes with
the situation.  And the Plot of Thomas the Rhymer/Tam Lin would fall apart
if you didn't have all those great characters and the idea of how Thomas the
Rhymer's curse would work out in the modern world.  For my money, those
sorts of books are more literary--more durable, in terms of being able to
read them again, read them at different ages, read them fifty years from
now.  I really like Diane Duane's books, and I'm grateful to her for writing
media tie-ins with depth and substance, but few of her books actually rise
to the same level as most of DWJ.  This, combined with the fact that Duane's
Wizard books are dealing with The Ultimate Destruction of Mankind, ought to
say something about--

[brain falls asleep]

--what was I saying?  Oh.  I'm having a hard time expressing this.  Just
that I think what the story's about is not terribly relevant to how much a
book affects a reader.  I mean, a story about one person's life in a small
town might be more emotionally affecting than a story about people racing to
save the world from Imminent Destruction.

>In DW scene with showing the parents the wizardry just made me cringe.
>Parents aren't meant to just believe that kind of thing!  Then let the kids
>run of and Save The World because the recognise their offspring really know
>what they're doing!

Ooooh, me too!  But only since I became a parent.  :)  Meaning--you always
see your parents as Other until you're in their shoes.  I'm sorry, but even
if my kid came to me and PROVED they were a wizard, I'd still see them as
the stupid kid who consistently left the water running in the bathroom.  And
I'd be a little worried about the Fate of the Universe if it were in my
darling daughters' hands.

I'm going to come home to five hundred messages from you people, aren't I?

Melissa Proffitt
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