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ReReadable Books

(March 2007)

"The Soul-Time Hypothesis: Eternal Love"


Jacqueline Lichtenberg



 To send books for review in this column email Jacqueline Lichtenberg,jl@simegen.com  for snailing instructions or send an attached RTF file.  
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Dragon Champion, by E. E. Knight, RoC TP, Dec. 2005

Dragon Avenger by E. E. Knight, RoC TP, Dec. 2006

Journey Between Worlds by Sylvia Louise Engdahl, Putnam, 2006

The Blood Books, Volume Two, by Tanya Huff, DAW Aug. 2006

Smoke and Ashes by Tanya Huff, DAW HC, June 2006

War For The Oaks by Emma Bull, Ace Fantasy Special 1987

Forbidden The Claim by Samantha Sommersby, e-book, Linden Bay Romance 2006

The Butterfly Effect I and II – direct to DVD films --

In the January column, I noted that reincarnation to finish unfinished business (pursue a love affair for example, or to exact revenge) didn’t seem highly probable to me. It may just be my Saturn dominated personality, but I see life as lessons, and future lives as extra chances at learning lessons flubbed this time.

I have three books this time for younger people that sidestep these hard questions. Two use the very long lived but sentient dragons of another reality, and one is plain SF, a coming of age story of immersion in another environment.

Reincarnation theory has it that the first cycle of Saturn around your natal chart is for defining the issues of this incarnation, often reiterating mistakes made previously or regaining the skills of a well developed talent (such as music, dance, writing, etc.)

Children’s and Y.A. literature is very well targeted at helping a young person find their place in the developmental curve. If you somehow skipped that stage during your youth, you have a second chance when you find one of these children’s books that is actually carved from adult fare.

E. E. Knight has brought us two novels in The Age of Fire series, Dragon Champion and Dragon Avenger, which, like Tolkien’s works, are great as read aloud bedtime stories that you, too, will enjoy as you read them.

The two books tell of the growing up of two young dragons, brother and sister, ousted from their parent’s nest too soon to make their way in a cruel and changing world. This long lived species is nevertheless mortal, needing bravery and understanding to survive.

These dragons span the ages of Man and preside over the massive shifting of world populations.

With a much tighter focus, Sylvia Louise Engdahl tells the story of Journey Between Worlds, about a teenaged woman who has her life all mapped out for herself until her father invites her to live with him on Mars for a year. She meets a second generation Martian guy who expands her horizons. This book is for your teenager to read before bedtime – or maybe not. It’s a can’t-put-it-down read, especially if you believe in soul-mates.

Apropos of soul-mates, I must highly recommend a very different vampire romance e-book, Forbidden The Claim. The modern, computer equipped vampire is named Renfield, and he’s bereaved by the death of his long-time companion. He discovers letters in her room between her and a young woman. Through her letters to his companion, he falls madly in love with the young woman – before ever meeting her. Then she turns up on his doorstep, not knowing her protector has died. This is a short but very powerful karmic romance that raises many questions relevant to Time, the Soul and Love. This is a book for 20-somethings or anyone who has been 20-something in some life!

Now, for older folks with more mature issues on their minds, we have the new Omnibus reprint, The Blood Books Volume Two by Tanya Huff. This volume contains the two hard boiled vampire detective novels (which I’ve been raving about in this column from the beginning) Blood Lines and Blood Pact. I mentioned Vol. One in the January 2007 column.

Vicki Nelson starts out as plain human, an ex-police officer with a connection still on the force, Mike Celluci, an old and smoldering flame. She founds her detective agency and gets involved with Henry Fitzroy, a vampire who writes romance novels. She has a debilitating illness. The "Blood Books" are all about her adventures with Henry, a bisexual vampire without prejudice.

I especially liked the novels with Vicki’s mother. When she becomes a vampire, Henry must leave town – two vampires can’t share a territory. He moves from Toronto to Vancouver where his adventures continue.

Now Tanya Huff brings us a more modern, updated, slant on the laws of nature that produced Henry Fitzroy. Smoke and Ashes is the third book in the new Fitzroy series, but I haven’t read the previous two – Smoke and Shadows and Smoke and Mirrors. These books center on Fitzroy’s male lover, a street kid, Tony Foster who now works in Vancouver on the crew of a Vampire detective TV show. (lots of in-jokes for Forever Knight fans).

In her 1990’s Blood Books, Huff cleanly sketches out the foundation for the inter-dimensional warfare with hell-demons depicted in the Shadows series. But the complexity and power of that view of the world, partly introduced in the earliest Urban Fantasy (War for the Oaks by Emma Bull, Orb Books, July 2001) exploded into general consciousness with the success of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel TV shows. Lately of course Harry Potter has brought this view of reality back into children’s fantasy.

Now what has all this to do with the Soul entering "reality" through the dimension of Time?

Well, even though our general culture doesn’t have a good, solid, workable and shared model of reality that includes the Soul, these novels and their major motion picture counterparts are accepted as entertainment by people who don’t see the world as including Spirit and Soul.

Which brings us to The Butterfly Effect and The Butterfly Effect 2 – something of a new form in the fiction delivery system. These are "direct to DVD" films, and October 2006 has seen TV ads for the theatrical showings of The Butterfly Effect 2. Both are very controversial. Both filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia where Tanya Huff has set her Smoke novel series.

Butterfly Effect premise is vaguely similar to the film Groundhog Day. A disturbed but otherwise normal human being can, through the device of his own diary of forgotten episodes of his past, go back and change that past. When he makes one change, it changes other things in ways he (and we) never anticipate. It was a horrible past – and in change, becomes much worse, so these films are not for the squeamish or the young. Taboos are pulverized here.

However, these two films explore the unity of reality, and how "time" is bound closely to Soul. Probably the creators of these films didn’t have access to the Kabalah clue about Soul and Time we are discussing – nor do the viewers, many of whom can’t find a story or plot in the films.

Remarkably, only some viewers were left in utter confusion. Time-loop stories have entered the common vernacular. These films are part of a tide that is changing the face of fiction today. The direct to DVD format allows them to offer the director’s cut – with a different ending than the pasted on happy ending in theatrical release.

That’s the trend I wanted to note here. Technology – the Internet – is changing the way we consume fiction – and thus the fiction that we consume. Direct to DVD allows viewers to learn the science behind the SF premise, then choose the ending, more like a game than a film.

As I noted in the January column, I learned from Save The Cat! and other books on screenwriting, how the modern format for the "blockbuster" film evolved as a collaborative effort of producers, writers and movie goers.

"Blockbuster" means a film that costs so much to make it has to open everywhere and make back its costs in the first few weeks. It means a film everyone has to see and rave about to their friends and take people to see.

Contrast the responses to the foreign film Ushpizin (mentioned in January) with The Butter Fly Effect films. On Amazon Ushpizin has almost five stars, while Butterfly Effect 2 has barely 1.5 stars though that may grow as more people see it.

Ushpizin follows the structural rules set down in Save The Cat! for a blockbuster script, and it won awards though it didn’t make much money by Hollywood standards.

These rules of screenwriting define how to tell a story visually by using the viewer’s Time sense to lure them into the story. Save The Cat! starts with an explanation of how to get a viewer to identify with and like the main character. That is how to get viewers to invest a bit of soul into the film so it becomes personally comprehensible.

The Butterfly Effect films, along with the reality-stretching books and TV shows we’ve been discussing here may actually change the audiences enough to change the formula for a Blockbuster.

That standard 110 page screenplay formula evolved from stage plays. Originally, silent films were stage plays. Then they went out on location and did things you can’t do on stage. Today films use computer animation to generate things you can’t do on location, things that defy our sense of "reality" but use our sense of Time to captivate our souls.

Is our entertainment shaping us? Or are we shaping it? Is life about lessons or chances to do it over?

To send books for review in this column email Jacqueline Lichtenberg,  jl@simegen.com for snailing instructions or send an attached RTF file.  



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