Friday, July 20, 2012

Batty About Books - Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman - Part 2

The Bat-Girls are 
Batty About
Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman

Part 1 here.
This is the story of Tucker Feye. It's realistic fiction with a sci-fi twist. Tucker does some time travel through controlled portals, called disks or diskos, that only lead to terrible events. His parents disappeared and he's trying to track them down.

Obsidian Blade Part 2 - there are spoilers so please don't proceed if you haven't read it yet! My thoughts are in blue while Maria's are in purple.  Get more from Maria (@mselke01) at Maria's Melange.

I re-read this last half and found my feelings changed from my first read through of Obsidian Blade. This time, I had way more questions.

1. Why did Hautman decide to have the story of Iyl Rain and the diskos and the Klaatu interspersed with Tucker’s story? It was almost like those sections could have been at the beginning as a prelude.  They served to pull me out of the narrative as I struggled to make sense of them and where they would fit with the following chapters.
I liked this style - though some of the pieces felt like they fit better than others. I think I would have liked it more if I could have seen how it fit together better by the end of this book, though. Now I just have to trust that it will come together in the next book.

2 Why a 5-sided pyramid? Were the names of the five gates derived from five languages? (Heid, Bitte, Aleph, Gammel, Dal)
I had the same question (about the number of sides). Five seems like an odd choice. I’m just not sure what to think about that number.
On my second read the names stood out to me more. I noticed the spin of the altar. Is it random - which gate the sacrifice is tossed into? Bitte has a German flair... Heid also. Aleph and Gammel seem Hebrew. So maybe this is a tie in with the Amish Jewish thing? Kathy: Yeah, that makes sense, I looked up Aleph and Bitte because at first I thought it might be some sort of Alphabet or numbering system. Wonder if it’ll come up in book 2.

3. Agree or disagree: Alterations to the past lead to a change in the future and the further one goes back in the past the more profound the changes. (167)
Agree in theory - though the book seems to be making the case more for “the changes you go back and make reinforce the path you are already on”. Maybe there are alternate futures we haven’t seen?

4. Maggots = Timesweeps whose job it is to fix changes time travelers make. Did they do this? How was eating the gates fixing time?
This was a feature I found very confusing. Unless “eating” the gates was a way of capturing and then moving them? The maggot at the end had a gate within... maybe that was a gate it had eaten and captured?

5. Were you able to construct a time lime? I got Medicants-->Lah Sept-->Time of Awn. Also, the Digital Age was during the Medicants time. Did it end when the lah sept came into power? Were they in power? Confused.
Yes... but it seems like the Medicants and Lah Sept both actually STARTED at the same time. (Mom was an early Digital Plague carrier and Dad started the Sept). Then there was the fact that Tucker visited two different times with the Medicants - second visit had more sophisticated technology. I’m assuming the Klaatu came from the Sept and the Boggsians maybe are related to the Medicants... so there is some interweaving of the timelines. That’s what happens when people can jump around in time!

6. How did Hautman decide which events in time were horrible enough to warrant Klaatu wanting to visit? Some were obvious - Auschwitz, Bubonic Plague, “death of a prophet”.  Others not so much.
I have to say, I picked up on the prophet section the instant it was mentioned. I was a bit surprised that the son of a pastor didn’t get it more quickly. I’d be interested to hear him discuss how he chose them as well.

7. Did Hautman do a shout out to Bradbury with his “martian genocide” ? Brings to mind a story in the Martian Chronicles but I could be mistaken.
Sadly, it’s been too long for me to be sure on that one. I need to reread those.

8. When Tucker finally makes it back to Hopewell, Will does not seem surprised to see him.  Wasn’t he supposed to have been aged? He has a beard for goodness sakes.  Wasn’t he gone for a few years?
This was something I mentioned (being confused about how long it had been). In some ways it seemed like not too long, and in others it seemed years. Either way, Tucker has aged more than those around him... so it should have been more surprising.

9. Master Gheen is truly evil. How did he convince Reverend to want to sacrifice his son?
Ooo... this ties way into religion. How did God convince Abraham to sacrifice his son? Maybe Reverend thought it was a similar situation, and that he was just supposed to prove his faith? This brings another endless cycle in.... did the Reverend start the Sept or did Gheen? Chicken and the egg... if it hadn’t started here, there would BE no Sept... Kathy: Oh, so time-travelesque! But, hadn’t the Reverend already given up his faith? Does time move faster when you are away? Even though you come back not too long after you left? Because that first time he no longer believed. So whatever happened the second time, that changed him but I wouldn’t think it remade his faith...

10. Religion plays a huge role in this book. Ok, not a question but discuss it anyway.
This was a huge piece of the story. I like how Hautman didn’t take the easy road. Tucker’s father lost his faith - then found it again in a rather questionable source. Yet Tucker sticks with what he believed. Often science fiction plays down the importance of faith... so I’m curious to see where this goes. Kathy: Have you read Hautman’s Godless? Not science fiction but an interesting treatise on religion.

Okay - adding a question to this list. Why on earth did the Klaatu harvest the bacteria in Tucker’s appendix? Very odd.
Kathy: Another random happening, like the curing of Henry’s alcoholism, that we may have to wait for the sequel on. Though I don’t hold out much hope as that will be the second book in a trilogy. Which is not usually the question answering book but the place holding book. I do not love a trilogy.
Interesting thought... I’ll have to think back to other trilogies that I adored. I think the ones I really like still do feel like they have some “closure” - that or I can blow through the entire thing in one sitting so I get all the information I need.

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