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The second ether

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  • The second ether

    I've made no secret through the years that this is one of my favorites, if not my very favorite of Mike's fantasies.

    Structurally, I love the flow of the books. Fabulous Harbors is an effective middle work, allowing you to catch your breath and mine the themes that the novels examine. Similarly, the episodes of the Corsairs (and their ultimate involvement with the resolution of the series) provide perspective and a valuable change of pace.

    I also love the characters. I cannot say enough about Jack, Sam, Colendo, and the Rose. More importantly, their relationships are real--complex, sometimes tragic, and intertwined in many ways.

    The idea that jugadors, playing the game of time, create realities and then see them play out is important to the larger body of Mike's fantasy, but is also intriguing on its own, particularly the manipulation of time and space as scale. I also like the inversion of what is familiar throughout all of the books. The American south is the most obvious inversion, but allusions to Mike's other characters provide even more subtle (and sometimes more rewarding) moments.

    More to say, but...

    I'm interested in others' thoughts...

  • #2
    I just finished this series a couple of days ago and am taking a mosey through Tales from the Texas Woods before reading the Multiverse comic. I'll have more to say after that - War Amongst the Angels completely blew my mind and I want to read the graphic novel as well before trying to put my thoughts in order. In another thread (What We're All Reading) I said this, though:

    Originally posted by Me
    Suffice to say that it's an incredible piece of work, somewhat akin to reading a fractal (if that makes any sense). I was really struck by how the reader needs to take on some of the attitudes of a jugador in order to absorb the book. Just as the players in the Great Game eschew the linear (or cyclical) nature of time, so must the reader divest himself of the same perspective. Above and beyond it's narrative content, it manages to capture the experiential quality of the multiverse. This is true of the whole Second Ether series, but really comes to the fore in the last book of the trilogy. Awesome stuff.
    I spent a lot of time teasing out the ramifications of what appear to be differing versions of Sam Oakenhurst. The realisation that there was more than one version of this character running about made me immediately suspicious of most of the other characters in the book, lol. Very interesting.

    It might take another reading to figure this out, but it also seemed in War Amongst the Angels that the Rose was experiencing the passage of time in a slightly different manner to Jack and Colinda.

    I was also intrigued by the seemingly casual use of the word "war" as a way to locate an event in time. Often there would be a phrase like "before the war" or "pre-war years" or a mention that it had been 8 years since the war. I started to get the impression, though, that these weren't necessarily referring to the same war in the same universe/scale. There is WWII (as references to nazi occupation make clear) but also the war in America, and of course the greater war amongst the angels. Excellent.

    Plus seeing the same things from the perspective of different characters was a real treat (Rose and Jack's occasionally unflattering opinions of each other were priceless).

    I'll rein myself in here now. Plenty more to follow...
    The name that can be named is not the true name.

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    • #3
      I agree with you on the way it hurts your head (a bit) to place yourself in such diverse points of view, and, on top of that, use them to understand notions of time and space that are very different than the manners in which we are used to considering them (and experincing them).

      Originally posted by Kamelion
      I spent a lot of time teasing out the ramifications of what appear to be differing versions of Sam Oakenhurst. The realisation that there was more than one version of this character running about made me immediately suspicious of most of the other characters in the book, lol. Very interesting.
      Sam is complex and compelling.
      Jack and Rose seem to be the most "stable" in the sense of having one aspect of themselves represented throughout, which makes their relationship, as well as their respective relationships with Sam, all the more interesting.

      Originally posted by Kamelion
      It might take another reading to figure this out, but it also seemed in War Amongst the Angels that the Rose was experiencing the passage of time in a slightly different manner to Jack and Colinda.
      Rose is different all the way around. Of course, variations of Rose appear in many of Mike's stories...

      Originally posted by Kamelion
      I was also intrigued by the seemingly casual use of the word "war" as a way to locate an event in time. Often there would be a phrase like "before the war" or "pre-war years" or a mention that it had been 8 years since the war. I started to get the impression, though, that these weren't necessarily referring to the same war in the same universe/scale. There is WWII (as references to nazi occupation make clear) but also the war in America, and of course the greater war amongst the angels. Excellent.
      Exactly. The different wars (also the Civil War) ground the story, but you aren't always sure where (and when) it is grounded. For that matter, you are never sure if Biloxi is Biloxi, or Biloxi at a different time (or scale)...

      Originally posted by Kamelion
      Plus seeing the same things from the perspective of different characters was a real treat (Rose and Jack's occasionally unflattering opinions of each other were priceless).
      I think Jack and Rose understand each other a bit better than any of the other characters in the novels. To me, much of the tension between them stems from seeing a reflection of self in the other. Some of it also stems from Jack and Rose being different, in ways that I cannot quite put my finger on, than everyone else.

      I also have to add that all of the characters are heroic and tragic in markedly different ways. There is something especially bittersweet in Jack's final "I'm feeling it, Sam."

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Kamelion View Post
        I was also intrigued by the seemingly casual use of the word "war" as a way to locate an event in time. Often there would be a phrase like "before the war" or "pre-war years" or a mention that it had been 8 years since the war. I started to get the impression, though, that these weren't necessarily referring to the same war in the same universe/scale. There is WWII (as references to nazi occupation make clear) but also the war in America, and of course the greater war amongst the angels. Excellent.
        I wonder if this "multiversal war" has something to do with the concept of unavoidable and constant event (nuclear bombing) in all universes, as MM suggested in his Oswald Bastable books?

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