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HRSFANS.org » Jerusalem, Post 4

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Jerusalem, Post 4

HRSFANS Book Club – read-a-LONG up to our Feb 2017 meeting: Alan Moore’s Jerusalem, “Book One—The Boroughs.”

Reminder: proposal is now that the official Book Club plan for February 6, 2017 meeting be to discuss Jerusalem‘s “Book One—The Boroughs”: the first third of the book.


This post has hints at plot spoilers.

It has moderate concept/perspective spoilers.


Start at “Do As You…” if you’re looking for a clue

Like I’ve been warning, this book goes on and on with minimal connection from chapter to chapter, and with each chapter being itself less part of a story than a character study in “short-story” form. Very worthwhile on its own terms, but confusing and potentially frustrating if judged by terms Book Club is more used to.

“Do As You Darn Well Pleasey” breaks this mold. Not entirely, but enough that I can recommend jumping to there if you’re getting bogged down. Read this and at least you’ll feel you’re being set down on a path that involves some narrative plan, and some planned central conflict, and ground rules for how that conflict will be managed.

SF/F bursts

He he. So right after writing in the last post that Jerusalem shouldn’t count as SF/F I come across a set of less than four pages that, to me, rattles off like machine-gun fire pretty specific tie-in references to a nicely wide variety of genre works that I like a lot.

Quotes from “Do As You Darn Well Pleasey,” perspective character Snowy:

It would be hard for Snowy because he lived in a world where everything was there forever, never ended, never altered. … When he looked at it objectively, he saw that the real measure of his freedom was that he was free of the illusion of free will.

i.e. Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five.

Hi death would come in a long corridor of rooms, like the compartments of a railway train, and Snowy’s mouth would be crammed full of colours.

… maybe Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination.

As if they and their lives were not the smallest and most abstract brushstroke, a pointillist dab fixed and unmoving in time’s varnish, there eternally on an immeasurable canvas, part of a design too vast for its component marks to ever glimpse or comprehend.

… i.e. Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry.

Ernest had explained to him and Thursa how there was a way of foldin our experience of space as easily as we might fold a map to join two different places together, say the Boroughs of Northampton and the streets of Lambeth.

… i.e. Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.

These two places were in fact unusually easy to bring into close proximity, due to the numerous others who had made the trip before and, doing so, had worked the fold into a worn and whitened crease.

This one hits me as so reminiscent of so much stuff I can’t quite put my finger on now (so to speak)–it definitely reminds me of the speculations on the workings of the Shadow Roads in Seanan McGuire’s October Daye novels, but I’m almost certain that’s attributable to my obsession alone (whereas for most of the others I can very easily suspect authorial intent).

Mr. Dadd, the fairy-painter who’d gone mad and murdered his own father.

Not checking this, I’m almost certain this “fairy-painter” is also alluded to in Terry Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men (almost certain because the allusion is explicated in an afterword, with a few key notes both on the painting and its author’s life).

[H]e allowed his consciousness of time to crystallise around the quarter-inch of the duration axis that the moment represented so that things slowed to a crawl, the progress of events barely perceptible. … “Pigeon eyes,” their dad had called this gift, without explaining why.

Well, in Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children it’s explained that only birds are time-travelers.

Earthiness

Quote, from “Modern Times,” perspective character with several aliases:

The woman laughed and it was music, more that of a pub piano on a Friday night than of Debussy, but music just the same.

Quote, from “Do As You Darn Well Pleasey,” perspective character Snowy:

… [T]he baby’s head was now emerged completely. Snowy’s wife had the appearance of those peg dolls you could buy that were reversible and had a head on each end at the junction of the limbs.

Then there’s any number of mentions of chamberpots and the smells of various excreta, in any number of chapters, which are, well, just rather more vivid than I’m used to in my reading. Even in other fiction set far enough in the past as to be before deodorant (or a concern for it), it usually isn’t pointed out that people, and living, and particularly living in cities, really smells. Here, that is pointed out.

2 comments

2 Comments so far

  1. Robbie Eginton February 12th, 2017 10:37 pm

    Not much to say, just **snaps** to the sheer amount of referencing/(intentional? )echoing of other SFF works here. I don’t think it begins in this chapter. I’ve mentioned other links in comments on other pages, but also: I think the angels in the Prelude remind me of Diane Duane’s Powers that Be in the Young Wizard series. And the whole thing reminds me overwhelmingly of Pratchett. Just, like, overwhelmingly.

  2. Robbie Eginton February 12th, 2017 10:38 pm

    But also not-a-little of DWJ in, say, FIRE AND HEMLOCK or DOGSBODY or TIME OF THE GHOST.

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