Many Waters, by Madeleine L’Engle – I’d read L’Engle’s original Time Trilogy back in my younger days, definitely in elementary school for at least the first two and probably the third. I remember A Wrinkle in Time pretty well, and the others not quite as much, although some parts of them stuck with me. They tended to mix scientific elements with Christian theology and pure fantasy: Jesus fighting a dark force shading various planets, a planet of flying centaurs who recite Biblical passages, a cherub going inside a mitochondrion, etc. Some of the science is a bit outdated at this point, but the attitude toward it is quite positive. We now know more about the workings of mitochondria and that they don’t contain sub-organisms called farandolae, for instance. And the word “tesseract” seems to be somewhat misused; it’s actually a cube extended into the fourth dimension. Still, it was these books that largely introduced me to mitochondria and dimensions beyond the third. The main characters in this fourth book are the twins Sandy and Dennys Murry, younger brothers of Meg and Charles Wallace. One of their parents’ experiments ends up sending them back in time to just before Noah’s Flood, bringing in the religious component. L’Engle’s version of the antediluvian world has humans accompanied by tiny mammoths, manticores, seraphim, and nephilim. There are also unicorns, but they only exist when believed in, which the twins compare to quantum physics. The characters, some directly from the Bible and others extrapolated, all have their own distinct personalities. I’m not sure how the weird mythical biology fits with the promotion of science, but it’s a good story.
An Acceptable Time, by Madeleine L’Engle – This is considered the fifth Time book, but it features characters introduced in another series (sub-series?), so I might have to go back and read some of those. The main character is Polly O’Keefe, Meg and Calvin’s daughter, who is staying with her grandparents and finds a way to travel back in time what she guesses to be 3000 years, although the mountains having become hills over that period hints suggests it’s actually longer ago. She finds out that a bishop who’s friends with her grandparents has also gone back and forth multiple times, and has taught English to one of the natives. Most of the others speak the old Irish language of Ogham, which is actually an alphabet rather than a spoken language. They consider making Polly a blood sacrifice, and her supposed friend Zachary Grey makes a bargain with an enemy tribe to capture her in exchange for their healer fixing his heart condition. He’s apparently another recurring character from books I haven’t read, and I don’t know if he’s as obnoxious in those. Even before considering making this bargain (which he later regrets), he’s uncomfortably hitting on Polly. One complaint I’ve seen a lot about this one is how Polly’s grandparents remain skeptical even though they’ve experienced some pretty miraculous things, some of which they even mention here. I mean, Alex Murry transported himself to an alien world many light-years away, so why is time travel so difficult to accept? The theology here is fairly prominent but pretty liberal, with the bishop acknowledging that the natives’ pagan nature worship is a valid aspect of truth even though he’s sure Jesus existed even in their time.
Before I close this out, here’s the teaser trailer for the film version of Wrinkle that’s coming out next year:
We’ll have to wait and see whether we can give this Wrinkle in Time any credit, but that Camazotz scene looks totally accurate and creepy, and I approve of the multi-racial cast. Yes, I know Meg had brown hair in the books, but the girl in the trailer still totally looks the part. And here’s an earlier post of mine that explains the origin of the name Camazotz. Also, while Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials is often said to be a reaction to C.S. Lewis, the bit about angels being made of dark matter seems very L’English. I’m not sure if he meant it as a parody or what, as he apparently didn’t like Wrinkle either.