high-wizardry

Bout of Books 12.0 TBR

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr // Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater //Catalyst by S.J. Kincaid // Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secret by J.K. Rowling // High Wizardry by Diane Duane // A Wizard Abroad by Diane Duane

God, that took long enough. Been working on this for days, going back and forth between Daz 3D and Terragen.

One of the new covers for the NME version of High Wizardry will more or less be based on this.* (I may change it from daylight to more night-ish lighting; we’ll see how that goes.)

*Where I run into several cover ideas I like, I’ll do variants with different covers. Possibly I need my head felt as regards this, but… (shrug)

“OK. Fine…Fine. See you in a bit. Bye now.”

[Carl] hung up. “That was your mom in the background,” he said to Nita, “insisting on feeding us again. I think she’s decided the best thing to do with adult wizards is tame them with kindness and gourmet cuisine.”

“Magic still makes her nervous,” Nita said.

“Or we still make her nervous,” Tom said, getting up to shut the doors.

“Well, yeah. Neither of them can quite get used to it, that you were their neighbors for all these years and they never suspected you were wizards…”

“Being out in the open,” Tom said, “causes even more problems than ‘passing’…as you’ll have noticed. But the truth works best.”

— 

Diane Duane, High Wizardry

I see what you did there…

She never found out anything about the man who helped her. Nor did he ever find out anything more about her. Pausing by the door of the pay toilet after being released from station security some hours later, and being telepathically sensitive (as so many hominids are), he could sense only that some considerable power had been successfully exercised there. Satisfied with that, he smiled to himself and went on about his travels, just one more of the billions of hominids moving about the worlds. But many millions of light-years later, in some baking wilderness under a barren, brilliant sky, a bitterly weary Dairine paused in her flight, sat down on a stone, and cried for a while in shock at the utter strangeness of the universe, where unexpected evil lives side by side with unexpected kindness, and neither ever seems quite overcome by the other…
— 

Diane Duane, High Wizardry

Just one more example of Duane’s fantastic writing.  Also - was that supposed to be the Doctor??!

The Lone Power rose up, slowly, like one discovering walking after a lifetime of lameness. And Kit and Nita and Darine all gazed, and speech left them. Nita’s eyes filled with tears as she wondered how darkness could be so bright. Lightbringer He was, and star of the morning; and like the morning star, He needed the darkness, and shone brighter in it, and made it blessed. “Home,” He said, gazing upward; just the one word.
—  High Wizardry

“Powers,” Nita heard her father say behind her. “Creation. Forces from before time. This is - this is business for saints, not children!”

“Even saints have to start somewhere,” Carl said softly. “And it’s always been the children who have saved the universe from the previous generation and remade the universe in their own image.”

—  Diane Duane, High Wizardry
Book Meme - Day 2 - A book or series you wish more people were reading or talking about

Because:

This is one of my favourite series. If Harry Potter didn’t have all its cultural and personal resonance, it would by my number one favourite series. In strictly literary terms, I prefer these books to the Harry Potter books. And I have next to no one to talk about them with. I’m a member of the Young Wizards Discussion Forums, and it’s somewhat active, but I don’t know anyone on there.

Nita/Kit (the main protagonists) are my book OTP.

NO ONE KNOWS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PHRASE “Took you long enough”.

It’s an open ended series with nine books already published, so there’s SO VERY MUCH to theorize and obsess over.

THERE MIGHT ONE DAY BE A MOVIE MAYBE I DON’T KNOW. And I’m very conflicted over whether this is a good idea or not. I know I wouldn’t be heartbroken if they didn’t make one. I’m still holding out that they’ll turn the books into anime.

Fun Fact:

The tenth book, Games Wizards Play, was just announced and is (I’m hoping) coming out in the next year. And it shall be marvelous.

Just finished High Wizardry and I have a vague sort of feeling that I didn’t like it as much as a child?  Maybe because it was more on the sci-fi end of things, and/or I didn’t understand all of the concepts completely.  Maybe because it focused more on Dairine, and I didn’t appreciate having my regularly scheduled protagonists interrupted.  Or maybe it was just too fricking painful to read.  But it hurts more reading it now than it ever did then.  Because it’s really heavy stuff, about mortality salience, and how life always hurts, and I think that was a much more difficult and frightening concept for me to grasp than planetary motion or a sentient computer planet or Olber’s paradox.  Even ten years later I don’t know how to handle it.  The only thing that I understand better now is why the younger wizards have the most power.  I mean, Duane says outright it’s because kids don’t know what’s impossible yet, but there’s a difference between knowing it and feeling it.  I took the Wizard’s Oath when I was still young enough to believe in magic, and I was fully prepared to accept the power to risk my life in grand battles for the sake of the universe; now I’m glad I never actually received that power, because I know I’d never be able to handle it.

Still, sometimes I have bad nights, when the weight of the universe seems to be crushing me and the fear of the Lone Power’s creation seems to paralyze me; and during these nights, I remember another night, hiding under the covers with a flashlight and a paperback, swearing to always put aside fear for courage and death for life.  And powers or no, I meant the Oath then and I mean to live by it even now.

Somewhere someone struck a bass gong: the sound of it went on and on, and in the immense sound Dairine fell over, slowly, watching the universe tilt past her with preternatural slowness. Only that brief flicker of her own senses was left her, and the bass note of one of her heartbeats sounding and sounding in her ears. Other senses awakened, filled her full. The feeling of living in a single second that stretched into years came back to her again; but this time she could perceive the life behind the stretched-out time as more than a frantic, penned, crippled intelligence screaming for contact. The manual software had educated the motherboard in seconds as it would have educated Dairine in hours or months; the motherboard had vast knowledge now, endless riches of data about wizardry and the world.s What it did not have was first-hand experience of emotion, or the effects of entropy… or the way the world looked to slowlife.

‘Take it. Take it all. Please take it! They have to choose, and they don’t have the data, and I don’t know how else to give it to them, and if they make the wrong choice they’ll all die! Take it!’

And the motherboard took: reached into what she considered the memory areas of Dairine’s data processor, and read her total life memory as it had read the manual.

Dairine lay there helpless and watched her life — watched it as people are supposed to see it pass before they die — and came to understand why such things should happen only once. There are reasons, the manual says, for the selectiveness of human memory; the mercy of the Powers aside, experiencing again and again the emotions coupled with memory would leave an entity no time for the emotions of the present moment. And then there is also the matter of pain.

But Dairine was caught in a situation the manual had never envisioned — a human being having her life totally experienced and analyzed by another form of life quite able to examine and sustain every moment of that life, in perfect recall. With the motherboard Dairine fell down into the dim twilight before her birth, heard echoes of voices, tasted for the first time the thumb it took her parents five years to get out of her mouth; lay blinking at a bright world, came to understand light and form; fought with gravity, and won, walking for the first time; smiled on purpose for the first time at the tall warm shape that held her close and said loving things to her without using sound: found out about words, especially 'No!’; ecstatic, delighted, read words for the first time; saw her sister in tears, and felt for the first time a kind of pain that didn’t involve falling down and skinning your knees…

Pain. There was enough of it. Frustration, rage at the world that wouldn’t do what she wanted, fear of all kinds of things that she didn’t understand: fear of things she heard on the news at night; a world full of bombs that can kill everything, full of people hungry, people shooting at each other and hating each other; hearing her parents shouting downstairs while she huddled under the covers, feeling like the world was going to end — 'will they shoot each other now? Will they have a divorce?’ Finding out that her best friend its telling other kids stories about how she’s weird, and laughing at her behind her back; finding that she’s actually alone in the world when she thought she had at least a couple of people to stand beside; making new friends, but by force, by cleverness and doing things to make her popular, not because friends come to her naturally; making herself slightly feared, so that people would leave her alone to do the things she wants to without being hassled. Beating her fists against the walls of life, knowing that there’s more, more, but she can’t figure out what it is: then finding out that someone knows the secret. Wizardry. And it doesn’t come fast enough, it never comes fast enough, nothing ever does… and now the price is going to be paid for that, because she doesn’t know how to save these lovely glassy creatures, her buddies, that she watched be born… helped be born… her children, sort of. She doesn’t know how to save them, and they’re going to be dead, everything’s going to be dead: pain!

'It hurts too much,’ Dairine thought, lying there listening to her heartbeat slowly begin to die away. 'It hurts, I didn’t want them to get hurt!’ But it was part of the data, and it was too late now: the motherboard had it, and all the mobiles would have it too, the second she released Dairine. 'Why should they care about slowlife now?’ she thought in anguish and shame at the bitter outrush of what her life had been. Cruelty, pettiness, selfishness almost incredible — But too late now. The motherboard was saving the last and newest of the data to permanent memory. Any minute now the mobiles would start the program running and entropy would freeze, and life would stop being a word that had a meaning. The last nanosecond crawled by, echoes of the save rolled in the link. Nothing ever comes fast enough: end of file…

Dairine lay still and waited for it all to end.

And lightning struck her. The flow of data reversed. She would have screamed, but trapped in the quicklife time of the motherboard, everything happened before the molasses-slow sparks of bioelectricity even had time to jump the motor synapses on the beginning of their journey down her nerves. The motherboard was pouring data into her as it had poured into the mobiles under Dairine’s tutelage — but not the mercifully condensed version of the manual programming that it had given them. The whole manual, the entire contents of the software, which in book form can be as small as a paperback or larger than a shelf full of telephone books: it poured into Dairine, and she couldn’t resist, only look on in a kind of fascinated horror as it filled her, and filled her, and never overflowed, just filled and filled… The dinosaurs could have died while it filled her, life could have arisen on a hundred worlds and died of boredom in the time it took to fill her. She forgot who and what she was, forgot everything but this filling, filling, and the pain it cost her, like swallowing a star and being burnt away by it from the inside while eternally growing new layers on the outside: and finally not even the pain made sense anymore….

— 

(High Wizardry, Diane Duane)

I would have cut this passage down into smaller fragments for my rambling/observation purposes, but frankly, every time I tried to divide it, it didn’t seem right. This is one of the most strikingly powerful passages in YW for me, as well as being one of the most symbolically massive. It merges the concepts of birth, life and death into one experience as Dairine is essentially remade, opening herself up fully to the Motherboard and her mobiles and thus leaving herself open to receive wholly the knowledge and essence of wizardry itself.

Dairine lay there helpless and watched her life — watched it as people are supposed to see it pass before they die — and came to understand why such things should happen only once”. — Dairine is experiencing a sort of death-outside-of-death: the same pain that’s a part of birth and death, stretched out into a single ringing moment of life. No wonder it’s fucking her up.

With the motherboard Dairine fell down into the dim twilight before her birth”. — Because a huge part of this book’s plot is birth: we witness the birth of the mobiles, and their Choice upon their creation; but we also witness Dairine undergo this sort of rebirth, revisiting every moment of her life in excruciating detail and then recreating herself in the mobiles’ image as much as they are created in the image of the Motherboard, and of her…

“It hurts too much, Dairine thought, lying there listening to her heartbeat slowly begin to die away. It hurts, I didn’t want them to get hurt!”.She didn’t want them to get hurt. But birth hurts, life hurts, and death hurts; every sort of creation and transformation hurts, and what is life but as series of transformations? And though the mobiles have been born, they’ve been created, they have to accept that pain in order to continue living; they have to learn to fight the darkness without succumbing to it.

Any minute now the mobiles would start the program running and entropy would freeze, and life would stop being a word that had a meaning. The last nanosecond crawled by, echoes of the save rolled in the link. Nothing ever comes fast enough: end of file…”. — This book is interesting in that it’s the first one in the series that talks explicitly about how death is necessary for life to have meaning. Besides that, though — the fact that the phrase Nothing ever comes fast enough is used to end this part of the passage is and forever will be beautiful to me, because it’s such a statement of Dairine’s character. From the time she was a child: knowledge, life, comfort, friendship, information… nothing ever comes fast enough. What could have been more appropriate, then, than her bonding with and becoming one with quicklife, and learning a certain degree of forbearance and patience in the process? For all that this process is painful for her, she’s also experiencing eleven-plus years of life in less than a second of time; in a way it’s everything she’s wished for, and also nearly more than she can bear.

The dinosaurs could have died while it filled her, life could have arisen on a hundred worlds and died of boredom in the time it took to fill her. She forgot who and what she was, forgot everything but this filling, filling, and the pain it cost her, like swallowing a star and being burnt away by it from the inside while eternally growing new layers on the outside: and finally not even the pain made sense anymore….”. — I love how evocative this is: the pain of being born, juxtaposed with the concept of death; the description of the endlessness of this knowledge transfer contrasted with the fact that we know it’s happening over the course of nanoseconds. Not even the pain made sense anymore: Dairine forgets herself, is filled with herself and then forgets it all to make way for the endlessness of wizardry; is created and destroyed and created again in less than the time it takes to formulate a thought.

Dairine Callahan’s character does not begin and end with this scene, but I also don’t think it’s really possible to overstate the importance of its effects, the sheer massiveness of the ways it transforms her. Yes, she helps “birth” the mobiles: but, just as importantly, she helps “birth” herself.