Hyung Yeul Kim Yeul Kim itibaren Henley, Haslemere, West Sussex GU27, İngiltere
Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy has acquired the reputation of being a sort of Narnia for Atheists. This reputation is, at least by the end of The Golden Compass, largely unearned. Though the religious beliefs depicted in Pullman's fantasy universe throw their real-world parallels into an interesting light, there is nothing that compares to the explicitly Christian message in C.S. Lewis' classic children's books. His Dark Materials is set in the Edwardian England of a parallel universe, where Pullman's fantastic reimagining of the staples of English children's literature makes them fresh again. The action begins at an Oxford full of stuffy dons, and the main character, Lyra, is a familiarly plucky urchin. She sets off on an arctic adventure in which she flies in hot air balloons, fights nefarious Tartars, and befriends fierce talking bears. The result is a heady mishmash that seems equal parts classic adventure tale, C.S. Lewis, and Edward Gorey. Pullman makes this all bracing stuff, but it's the ideas woven into the plot that hook you. Most compelling are the daemons. In the world of His Dark Materials every human has a daemon, a talking animal familiar that serves as a lifelong companion. The most affecting relationship in the novel is between Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon. It is emotionally familiar to anyone who has ever loved a pet (and Pullman doesn't refrain from pulling loyal-animal-in-peril heartstrings) but goes much deeper: daemons and humans are like Siamese twins bound by invisible flesh. Life as a fully autonomous human is as unthinkable as life without a head. The philosophical implications of this union give the novel a subtle but potent extra punch. In comparison to the novel's musings on identity, the religious stuff seems pretty tame. Some of the evil conspirators Lyra must elude are members of a church faction that hides naked political opportunism behind a veil of orthodoxy. Pullman is having some subtle fun here, but doesn't invent anything worse than the real-life machinations of Reformation-era Europe. In the world of His Dark Materials, theology and particle physics are all mixed up together. But again, given modern science's origins in religiously-minded "natural philosophy", this seems more historically astute than theologically mischievous. The end of The Golden Compass quotes from a parallel-universe version of the Book of Genesis, which makes a great teaser for Book Two, but should prove heretical only to those determined to be offended. Does Pullman show his true, insidiously humanist side later on in the series? I don't know, but I'm hooked enough by the first book to find out.