27 August 2003 - 10:59 AM
In the Dark with a Good Book
I was just getting started on an entry about the birthday present Sis gave me yesterday afternoon when the power, quite unceremoniously, went out. Not even a good lightning strike as warning, just sudden darkness. The lightning strikes came later, taking down several trees in the neighbourhood, but none of ours, and not the widowmaker of a dead pine which the otherwise compulsive neighbours have not removed.
We had plans to meet with friends for dinner in the College Park area, and we were a little concerned about that, but without power we couldn't get at the phone number (stored in the computer) to ask if they had power, so we took the chance and drove over. Fortunately they did have power and we had a lovely time. It's nice to socialise outside of SCA events and family gatherings sometimes.
When we got home, there was still no power anywhere in the neighbourhood -- even the streetlights and stoplights were out. We stumbled around in the dark until we found the oil lamps (not too hard) and the lighter (more difficult), located the battery-powered alarm clock, and stumbled off to bed. Sometime after midnight the power returned, and while I haven't tested the home computer yet, things seem to be OK -- the contents of the freezer remained frozen, and no windows were broken or anything like that. One of the mothers at the book sale this morning told me that her plate glass window had shattered during the storm, which must have been really delightful.
Now, about the birthday present. Sis gave me the two volumes of The Kedrigern Chronicles -- the compendium of those favourite escapist fantasies I mention in my profile. Volume 1, The Domesticated Wizard, and Volume 2, Dudgeon and Dragons contain most of the novels (including one, The Dragon Comme Il Faut, which has not previously been published in English), many of the short stories, again including some new ones, and best of all, the promise that there will be more.
Here's why I like the Kedrigern books: they are smart and funny and parody the conventions of fantasy literature without parodying fantasy itself, which is a neat trick. They are full of the kinds of sly literary allusions which amuse me (Marie de France, Shakespeare, William Butler Yeats, and Anthony Burgess are invoked, among others). The plot twists are well-executed. Things don't always work out as the characters plan but the endings are always happy.
This not Literature with a capital L. None of the characters grapple with existential angst for more than a paragraph or two, and the major characters don't even usually do that. The deep mysteries of the universe are left largely uncontemplated. I can't say that the books have changed my life, except insofar as they have made me happier. Which is not a bad thing. Now that they're back in print, go see if they don't make you happier too.