Friday, June 12, 2015
A helpful graphic comparing religious symbolism in C.S.Lewis and John C. Wright
I've read the Hugo nominee novella 'One Bright Star To Guide Them' - as a non-voter in the Hugos I bought it and read it on my kindle. It strives to be a work that builds on the numinous in children's religious fiction (Narnia, Susan Cooper's Dark Is Rising, etc) and bring it to an adult and satisfying conclusion.
I don't object to such a plan for a novella in any way, and in theory there's no reason why it should not have been a good or even great story. [A good novel that does this is The Magician King, btw - and maybe it needs a novel length, and to be a sequal to work?]
However there are substantial difficulties with the novella as written - because its built on evocation, by naming things we haven't seen (but which are like things we have read of) a lot of the back story and naming comes off as derivative, and the reason why things are like X rather than Y is quite simply presented on a take it or leave it 'because the author says so' basis. This extends to the action of the story itself - whole sections of which occur off stage and are then recounted. Thus it demands a 'buying in' by the reader that it hasn't earned. A charitable reading would say this might be intended to be representative of faith, but a comparison with Narnia suggests how C.S.Lewis generates acceptance by appropriate choice of symbols, whereas John C. Wright here - to my mind does not.
For these reasons I think the novella a failure.
[Note, I know Jesus didn't ask the Disciples to Crucify him, that's why the resemblence is negative in the graphic. Yes, I know - the old testiment story of Abraham and Isaac, but to parallel that God would have needed to appear and offer an alternative to Tybalt's death, once it was clear Tommy would obey orders.]
Here's a graphic I hope will explain this: