Saturday, July 14, 2007

Movie Sets and the World

I read very quickly. In fact, I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in the last two days.

I really like these books. They are nice and imaginative, but I find myself getting frustrated with the details. Like how the book seems like a movie set, and not a world. A movie set is one push on a poorly-supported flat away from being exposed as virtual. While I can appreciate that the story is good, I keep finding myself asking questions that seem to make the world inconsistent. A few examples:

- The ministry arrested an innocent person who was under the Imperius curse in this book and put them in Azkaban. However, when Sirius was in Azkaban he was able to escape because he was innocent.

- The books are very Britain centric. I rarely hear a reference to the outside world. As Voldemort is gaining power, you'd think they would bring in Aurors from the outside, but this isn't even considered or mentioning. In fact, we have no idea what goes on in the international wizarding community, or if all the wizards are mentioned.

- Cornelius Fudge talking to the Muggle Prime Minister was the only time we've heard of Muggles. Are muggles generally ignored? There can't be that many wizards compared to normal people.

- The book is also very Harry/Ron/Hermoine centric. It almost seems like they are the only character who are conscious, or whose decision processes we see. Nothing really happens, and I'm exaggerating here, without their thought or intervention.

It's not that I have trouble with accepting wizards - it is because I can, rather easily, ask questions about the world that make it look inconsistent. A book that is good at avoiding this is Perdido Street Station. It can be classified as "really fucking weird", mentioning thaumaturgy (magic), vodanyoi (human-sized sentient frogs), crisis energy and elyctrons in the same sentence. However, the world for all its un-Earthness seems to be real. It doesn't seem to be a film set that is just constructed to lead us around some plot points.

But maybe that's the point of Perdido Street Station, as opposed to the Harry Potter books.

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