Friday, September 16, 2005

What if We All Had Demons?: Karen Traviss, "I Gotta Get Me One of Those".

in Navigating the Golden Compass: Religion, Science & Daemonology in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, edited by Glenn Yeff (Dallas: Benbella Books, 2005).

This is not totally off topic: one of the reasons I'm no fan of Pullman is that I think he's sloppy, and nowhere more so than in his failure to think through the implications of his daemons. My favourite rant is about a line he drops about the man in the kitchen with a daemon the same sex as him, who everyone thinks is odd and avoids. Because folks, in a world where daemons displayed your sexuality for all to see, either the Church would cull homosexuals at birth (given that for all the child-daemons' changeability, sex seems to be a given) or, while there might be hostility to a minority, there would certainly be no closet culture (and there's a thought, never having to worry that the object of my desire might be straight).

Karen Traviss, having never heard my rant, was asked to write a piece for this book, and wrote one on what our world would be like if we all had demons. It's hysterical, and utterly brilliant sf: because of course parents would pay for therapy to try to make sure their child grew up with the right kind of demon. Tough men would buy accessories for their "inner kitten" who is now embarrassingly on display. Cross-cultural prejudice would ensure that while a dog was a perfectly acceptable daemon in one culture, in another it doomed you to shovelling shit for the rest of your life.

[And just think what it would do to politics! George Bush would be accompanied by a small, anxious looking Jack Russell. Bill Clinton would have a bonobo.]

The rest of the book is ok, but I promise you faithfully, if you shell out the requisite tenner, Karen Traviss's chapter will reward every penny.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always wondered why no one's demon ever turns out to be a prokaryotic bacterium. Yet we've all met people for whom this would seem to be the natural choice!

3:34 PM  
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