Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Not SF But...:Beverly Wood and Chris Wood, DogStar (Vancouver: Polestar, 2004)

I did get to the archive today and came across a rather nice book which was waiting for cataloguing. This is one of those books which because it has time travel in it, can slip into annotated bibliographies without comment. It isn't sf, and apart from the actual time travel it's barely fantasy.

DogStar is a time travel story in which a boy (Jeff) mourning the death of his bull terrier, is taken back in time by Patsy Ann, the famous ship-greeter bull terrier of Juneau, Alaska. There he helps to solve the mystery of a sunken ship and to round up a counterfeiting ring. The time travel is mystical, and the rest of the novel reads like a historical (and a rather good one) but it has a lovely scene in which Captain Harper shows Jeff how to use a sextant and opens up the depth of space to him (255). For that alone I'd be happy to add it to the category of "Not SF but..."/

It reminds me a bit of Robert Welch’s non-Carey family story, The Gauntlet, and I enjoyed it very much.

The ending though: Jeff gets back and applies the lessons he has learned to let go of his grief over Buddys death. In the end, the entire novel has been about this one, personal moment. Now that annoyed me. Sentimental tosh (and I speak as someone currently mourning a much loved cat). I realise I need to add a qualification here. I don't mind a boy getting over the loss of his much loved dog during an adventure. Or passing through any other emotional crisis for that matter. But I want the adventure, or the time travel. to matter in and of itself, and at the end of this book (and others I'll talk about eventually), everything is directed towards this emotional movement. The inner life experienced, not the outer life lived is what counts.


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