Tesser Action

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 Some of the science is a bit outdated at this point, but the attitude toward it is quite positive.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.

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9 Responses to Tesser Action

  1. rocketdave says:

    It’s unfair when actors get typecast, but I kind of feel as though Oprah has become too well known as a talk show host for me to take her seriously in a dramatic role. If I had to guess, I’d say that’s probably at least part of the reason she got turned down for the role she wanted in the movie adaptation of Doubt. If Oprah had shown up on screen, it would have taken me right out of the film. So, it’s weird for me to see her in the trailer for A Wrinkle in Time.

    There was a TV movie adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time almost fifteen years ago that was pretty bad. It’s hard for me to say if this new movie will be much of an improvement, but at least one thing they got right was the scene with all the kids bouncing balls in unison. I don’t think that was in the TV version.

    • Nathan says:

      I’ll admit I’m not a particular fan of Oprah, but I’ll hold off judgment on her role as a celestial being until I’ve seen it. Since a lot of people look to her as a sort of guru, it kind of makes sense.

      • rocketdave says:

        A guru who peddles junk science… which I guess is somewhat appropriate given that the science in L’Engle’s books is probably closer to Deepak Chopra than Neil deGrasse Tyson. My bigger issue is that this new version still looks a bit too much like a TV movie- a sentiment I saw echoed in a reaction video by Beyond the Trailer.

      • Nathan says:

        Yes, although at least L’Engle admits she’s writing fiction.

    • Amy Weir says:

      I’m actually writing an article on the topic right now, but yes, Camazotz is definitely right in this trailer and was not right in the TV movie– that jumped out at me right away!

  2. It’s been many years since I read A Wrinkle in Time and its two sequels. I recall having a fondness for them, but I now can’t remember much of the plot, so they bear re-reading along with books 4 and 5, and the other series that they’re linked to (The Arm of the Starfish, Dragons in the Water, and A House Like a Lotus). As regards the film adaptation, I’m always dubious about Hollywood adaptations of any book, and only rarely do I find a film matches up to the original source material. Of all of them, the two that come to mind which surpassed their original form were V for Vendetta and The Shipping News. That said, the trailer looks interesting–a bit brighter and glitzier than I recall–but I’ll probably see the film before re-reading the books (a mistake I made with Return of the King).

  3. Amy Weir says:

    Yes, if you can believe it’s possible, Zachary Gray is even MORE obnoxious in the other books. I recall thinking that An Acceptable Time made him almost sympathetic in comparison.

    (A Ring of Endless Light is my favorite Austin family book, in which Zachary Gray is obnoxiously battling for the affection of Vicky Austin against the vastly superior Adam Eddington, another crossover character who was in fact just getting back from an internship with starfish regeneration expert Dr. Calvin O’Keefe, as portrayed in Arm of the Starfish. I actually have my L’Engle books shelved in chronological story-order, because I’m a nerd who named her daughter after the author).

    And it’s amazing how Philip Pullman can just keep finding new ways to offend me!

    I’m actually RIGHT NOW writing an article spun off on the Wrinkle trailer. Thanks! Now I don’t have to go through the intense trial of searching for the YouTube link to include myself! ;D

    • Nathan says:

      I just checked out Meet the Austins from the library. I’ve heard A Ring of Endless Light is good, but figure I should probably read them in order.

  4. Pingback: Giving This Wrinkle in Time Some Credit | VoVatia

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