Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Literary synergy ...

OK, so this weekend I had four books going -- three on audio: Gossamer by Lois Lowry, Larklight and The Black Tattoo, plus A Hat Full of Sky in print. I was revisiting Gossamer (less than three hours on CD) for my 4th and 5th grade book group, and am reading the Tiffany Aching adventure because it's a YRCA book this year (http://pnla.org/yrca/2007nominees.htm). I'm also reading it because Wintersmith is an audio candidate and I'm completely compulsive about reading books "in order."

So these four books all seemed to reflect each other in my reading/listening this weekend. Of course, the connections could be highly tenuous, but they made me pause (metaphorically) more that once.

For example, in Larklight there are some strange anemone-like sentient space creatures who are part of Jack Havoc's pirate crew, while in The Black Tattoo, Jack (the hero who doesn't get to be the Scourge's host) meets some fellow gladiators in Hell who are gooey and gelatinous beings. Larklight's aliens occasionally bore a resemblence to the demons from all worlds that are now the gladiator entertainers in Hell. Also, in those two books, the process by which space-traveling fuel is made in Larklight takes place in the alembic chamber, and one of the human villains in The Black Tattoo lives in the Alembic Tower.

Then, Charlie, Jack and Esme travel to Hell in The Black Tattoo, while Tiffany Aching spends a few moments in the afterlife in her story. (Hers is somewhat more pleasant place, but still not really where one would want to spend much time.) The gossamer touch of Littlest One in Gossamer was reflected in the gossamer spider strands that capture various spaceships in Larklight.

Art's shapeshifting mother from the beginning of time (Larklight) is connected to the Scourge, who's also been around forever -- albeit in a less benign form. The memories that Art speaks of in Larklight could have been used by Littlest One (and the Sinisteeds) to give Art his dreams and nightmares. Tiffany's an apprentice witch, Charlie an apprentice demon or demon-fighter, and Littlest One an apprentice dreamgiver.

OK, I'm stretching here ... but I think you get my point. Fortunately, the stories don't get mixed up in my head (not yet at least!), but occasionally the similarities are striking -- in this case, the appearance of alembic (a vessel used in distilling) was kind of cool.

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