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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

His Dark Materials 2.1-3: Dust, Dark Matter, and Multiple Universes


Back with a review of the first three episodes of the new second season of His Dark Materials on HBO.  I liked them a lot, and thought that, in a variety of ways, these episodes moved the series a bit from high fantasy to steampunk on the genre dial.  A good thing, in my book. (And speaking of books, I'll mention again that I haven't read any of Pullman's novels.)

Multiple universes or alternate worlds have become an increasingly important subset of science fiction.  One of the best novels I've read in years was the late J. Neil Schulman's The Fractal Man, a kaleidoscope of alternate worlds right here on Earth in our own time.  In His Dark Materials, Season 2, Lyra travels from the universe we saw last year, to one which is more like ours.  Smartphones, computers, and the like are in ample evidence in Cittàgazze, and play essential roles in the story.  But "Spectres" which turn adults into zombies are also on hand, and make this more-Earth-like alternate world markedly different from ours.

The computers signify a more scientific bent in this new world.  Lyra discovers that dark matter -- known in this alternate world as well as the world we all now inhabit, in which we can watch His Dark Materials on the screen -- is the equivalent of the dust we have all come to know by virtue of the first season.  Lyra now has a great vehicle for understanding what she needs to understand in order to save herself and all of these worlds.

It's good that she's joined in her often desperate adventures by Will, who understands at some of the workings of Cittàgazze.  They're just friends, at this point, but there's a chemistry that will likely move them closer than friends as the story progresses.  Mrs. Coulter is in good form, meting out cruelty as necessary but ultimately unwavering in her love for Lyra and her need to protect her.  

All in all, His Dark Materials occupies a unique niche of sheer fantasy ala Lord of the Rings and some kind of steampunk as in The Difference Engine, and it's most enjoyable to see.

See also His Dark Materials 1.1: Radiation Punk ...  His Dark Materials 1.3: Coulter's Daemons ... His Dark Materials 1.4: The Bears ... His Dark Materials 1.5:  Sleepers and Questions ... His Dark Materials 1.6: His Fast Materials


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