Pullman’s Black Magic

When he’s not pounding away for authors’ rights, Philip Pullman is sitting at a desk, doing a prodigious amount of work.  He’s just announced a trilogy of works which overlap the story of his earlier trilogy, His Dark Materials.

I am still reading His Dark Materials, so I am unable to say anything intelligent about the whole of it yet, but I can say that the darkness, the grimness, of the world that Pullman creates was one of the things that attracted me to his work.  I have the utmost respect for J.K. Rowling–her values, her generosity, her finely-structured work–but my tastes in fantasy run to the dark.  If, as writers and people, we are going to wrestle with the weighty questions of the origins of things, of God, of belief, of nothingness and extinction, we had best set those questions as hard as we can, because the questions are just that hard, and the simple answers offered to us by religion are not enough, even for the honestly devout.

Pullman knows that simplicity can be deceptive and illusory, and I suspect that The Book of Dust and the novels to follow are his final attempt to wrestle with the problems that matter and entertain us at the same time.


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