Susan Cooper

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Wed Oct 29 00:58:04 EST 2003


On Tue, 28 Oct 2003 23:51:08 +0000, minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:

>(But I still think that taking away Rowland's memory at the end, against
>what he has said, is wrong, both morally and artistically.  I can't put my
>finger on why it so offended me; it did, and not being sure why also
>offends me!)

I find it offensive not just because it violates the rule I referred to, but
because it seems clear that Rowland is not going to be harmed by his
memories either of the Light's battle or that his wife turned out to be La
Belle Dame Sans Merci.  When the Lady says that it will be better that way,
with no explanation, I question the motivation.

It's like in _Dark Lord_ where (oh crap I really am losing my mind) Derk's
daughter is molested to some degree and then her memory is adjusted so she
can deal with the experience.  If there's a genuine benefit to having one's
memory removed--say, if the Lady knew that Rowland was going to turn into a
bitter hermit and eventually throw himself off a cliff because he was
brooding over the past--then that's at least open to debate.  But as Rowland
was probably the most noble and emotionally-centered human in the entire
series, it just sounds like Cooper trying to tie up all the loose ends.  And
making a stupid choice in doing so.  After all, it's not like she ever has
to revisit that world and cope with John Rowland wandering around with full
knowledge of what happened the day they saved the world.

I've just been reading Kage Baker's Company stories, and the question of the
high and lonely destiny comes up a lot.  Here you have these cyborgs who
have tremendous powers and are immortal, so some of them tend to look on the
mortals as being inferior animals.  But the cyborgs themselves were created
by a Company in the (to them) far future, and are looked down on by the real
humans from that time.  The end result is that the assumed superiority of
the Company's agents is constantly called into question by the text and by
the characters, but Baker never really seems to be cheering for either side.
You finish a story about a cyborg who feels empathy with humans and head
straight into one in which an immortalized and augmented Neanderthal glories
in his duty, which is killing humans.  It's very satisfying to me, probably
more than the straightforward stories in which an arrogant person realizes
he or she isn't as supercool as he or she thinks, and becomes humble.  I'm
totally in favor of this outcome, but I like reading about the ambiguities
more.

(There's a Zenna Henderson People story along those lines, and I judge it to
be good because of how many times I want to beat the snotty protagonist over
the head.  I could look up the title, but this time I'm just too lazy.)

Melissa Proffitt

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