Friday, July 27, 2007

The Laptop Is Dead

1. The hinges on my laptop are completely done for. The monitor will not stand up, but flops back and forth. This, however, isn't the main problem, because,

2. The monitor itself is pretty much dead. Aside from the occasional flash of normal color, the monitor shows everything in a shade of gritty purple. This makes viewing anything difficult, but that's okay, because

3. My computer shuts down every five minutes or so anyway. It takes a little longer if I'm not doing anything with it, but the downside then is that I'm not doing anything with it.

In other words, my posts might be irregular for another week or two.

But I would like to take the time to mention that I'd hate if anyone read my last post and thought, because of it, that I don't like the Hogwarts Chronicles. I am voraciously reading the last book, and enjoying it rather a lot -- as I have enjoyed the rest of the series to this point. I just don't think it's a flawless series, and the depiction of magic in it is a particular aggravation to me. Still, the books are quite fun and engaging.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Harry Potter: Magic Detective

I don't know about you, but I'm kind of glad this Harry Potter thing is just about over.

Sure, we have a couple more movies to wait for, but the beginning of the end is all but here: the seventh and final book is out this very month, yea, this very next week.

Ms. Rowling has jump-started the Children's Fantasy movement again, paved the way for a trilogy of likable and lengthy Lord of the Rings movies (and their oncoming imitators), and has managed to not suck. We owe her a bit of thanks, even if we are consternated by her success. All of this has really been a mixed blessing: the Lord of the Rings movies are more popular than the books, without deserving to be. The new Children's Fantasy movement is just as full as derivative crap as the Adult Fantasy movement is these days. And while the Potter books haven't sucked, they haven't exactly changed my life, either.

I was reading the other day, and apparently ol' J. K. was talking about what she wants to do next: either she'll work on an Encyclopedia of Wizardly Things, or she'll write adult mystery novels. Considering that the first few Harry Potter books were pretty much Mystery novels with a bit of overly mundane magic thrown in, this makes an awful lot of sense.

It is, in fact, this idea of "mundane magic" that irks me the most about the Potter books. In this new film, the Weasley twins are old enough to use magic whenever they want, and so, when the rest of the kids are walking down the stairs, they simply bamf down instead. This angers their mother, who tells them that just because they're old enough, doesn't mean they have to use magic for *everything*. To which I thought, "This, coming from the lady who used magic to wash dishes last movie." The magic in Harry Potter is often so, well, unmagical. The Wizardly world is so unfairy-like. This is probably some of its appeal to mainstream audiences. In Harry's world, though, it's all rote memorization. If you know the right spell, you can do anything without breaking a sweat. Magic doesn't cost anyone anything. But we purists, we know that magic has to cost something to the people who use it. Nothing worth having ever came for free.

So, I don't find the Harry Potter books terribly magical. They're fun to read, and certainly imaginative (though not so much as, say, China Meiville, who has recently written a children's book entitled Un-Lun-Dun), but they're the fantasy equivalent of making a virus the cause of a vampire's curse. They're fantasy for people who don't like fantasy. Well...I happen to like fantasy quite a bit, thank you very much.

By the way, the new movie was pretty good, for those of you what liked the other movies. The flying-on-broomsticks part at the beginning was, I thought, one of the most "magical" parts of the series, and the climax was exciting in a decidedly D&D way. If you like the others, you might find this is one of your favorites.