It's stated a number of times in the Angier journal that they are dead. Not once is it discussed that there are any other attributes to the dead bodies. There are any number of circumstances that could lead to lack of decay, that have nothing to do with the absence of death. They are at all times referred to as corpses, and as dead.
"Well if they're not decayed, then obviously they are not dead and must be able to communicate telepathically"
That doesn't strike you as a flawed argument?
If you’ll forgive the lapse into Orwell, it seems like you’re trumping up a set of rules to justify your negative instincts about the book.
Granted, these are my percieved rules about dealing with fantasy.You don't have to accept them, but I personally think they are fairly self evident.Think carefully about abandoning them as "nonsense" just to defend this novel.
Again-with regard to fantasy writing :the only rules of the game an author has, when things do not conform to reality, are the rules the author establishes for the novel. When they are broken, nothing matters, because anything can happen.
Anyone can write a book like that. A singularly egregious example of this, was a book we read a little while ago for the book club by Michael Marshall Smith called Only Forward
where, by the end of the book all internal logic had been thrown to the wind for the sake of of cool, wild blasts of reckless imagination. Thankfully, this book doesn't have that lack of restraint, but I think Priest bends his own "rules of the game" in the context of the book, to come up with a cool ending.
You can say "So what?" and ultimately,that's fine. Then don't even bother rebutting my points. Let it go.
As for – ‘When you bring in fantastic elements you have to establish firm rules in how they work in the novel, and you can't rely on reader genre familiarity to bend them’ – this sweeping statement (which could be used to disqualify half the SF books written and a good many of your personal favourites, I’m willing to bet) is nonsense.
This is one of those patented Mugwump "this is nonsense" dismissals that don't have to be any truer than anything else.You open yourself up to having to give examples. Do you really want to do that?
Of course books are written that do it all the time, but you do come up with a flawed
result.I thought we were talking masterpiece here. Do you understand what I'm saying? I'm saying that the writer knows that the reader is familiar with certain conventions in genre fiction, and uses that to spackle the holes and inconsistencies in his narrative. Hence sticking telepathy in where it doesn't really apply. Do you really want to argue that this is a good thing? It screws up his whole wonderful, ironic, thematic dichotomy between magic and technology. It hurts the book.
I didn't say this was a bad book, but the plot does hinge on things that don't add up. He could have written this without the "shock ending" and I'm not sure the book would have suffered. There's a lot of good stuff in it.Take the two magician's journals, and imagine a restructuring of the framing story without the telepathy. Can't you come up with other possibilties that could even preserve most of the ending?
For a start – Priest is not a genre writer (he quit SF decades ago); or at least, not in the common interpretation of the word. The Prestige is a mixture of Wellsian SF, gothic, fantasy, horror and a couple of other genres. There is no assumption of ‘genre familiarity’ in the reader by Priest so the accusation of ‘laziness’ doesn’t stand up. His works demand the antithesis of genre assumptions.
He could be argued to be a Slipstream writer.Their big hero is Kafka.I think my whole point is, he's no Kafka. Kafka doesn't make these kind of mistakes. And to say he's not using elements of genre fiction in general
is not really being straightforward.
I can’t check because my copy is with someone else. Without it, I’m not convinced your accusation holds water. You say that he’s ‘remarkably calm’ – why shouldn’t he be? As you say, he’s not been exposed to any paranormal events. I won’t claim that I’d thrilled to bits about entering such a place in the middle of the night, but I wouldn’t be on my knees in terror. Andrew certainly is terrified when he bumps into Angier. He runs for his life.
Carrying a corpse in his arms-yeah he's running all right.
He finds a crypt filled with bodies that have somehow been preserved and labelled and he's stopping to read the tags!! Truthfully, what would your reaction to such a thing be?? I'd be right out of there,heading back to the car and calling the cops on my cell phone.I wouldn't continue to snoop around. wouldn't pick up a kid's corpse and run it out of the place.
The thing is, the rest of the book is so much better
than this ending, which is like something from The Mummy Returns
Gene Wolfe, who regularly leads his readers down blind alleys, is similarly ‘cheap’.
It's interesting that you should say this, because The Fifth Head of Cerebus
an example of someone playing this kind of game, following his own rules, and not throwing in any cheap shots. I'll have to take your word that he changes his MO with regard to ensuing novels.
As for Kate not venturing into the crypt – so what? My grandfather is buried in a crypt. I’ve never gone inside. I’m sure the vast majority of people who have relatives buried in crypts have no desire to enter them for reasons that should be obvious.
I don't percieve your motivations and hers to be the same in this regard. She's on an obsessive path to obtain info about her grandfather. What's even odder is that her parents left things down there as they are, with no provisions or protection of any kind after they were dead.
But in any case, the circumstances in which young Borden was tossed into the machine are radically different to those associated with the stage act. It is a fact of life that machines produce differing results when they are operated differently.
Why were they radically different? Why, because it was a kid wearing pajamas? How do you know the machine was operated differently? We're not given that kind of information. And why does that de facto lead to not being dead or telepathy? Go ahead, spin it man, make it work for you...
I'll remind you there was no telepathy even with Angier's seperated selves after the accident
As for telepathy – I don’t know whether there is an earlier indication. I’ll check
Heres another one to chew on:
Priest has an opportunity to establish that Angier is sitting there telepathically communciating with his prestiges. Does he do that?
When I read this novel, I said to myself "hey wait a minute, that doesn't work". This is not my reaction to every novel I read. If these are minor things to you, fine.
I've made my observations-neither of you have checked on it, but have adamantly rebutted me anyway.Not something I would be caught doing, but that's besides the point. I checked again. I have the book right here, guys, I've looked through it a number of times.
There's no direct connection between the Angier journal and the events at the end of the novel with regard to what Andrew and Kate know. Andrew is only acting because of the link with his dead "brother" , which as you know by now, I don't think much of as a plot device.I comes out of left field and exists nowhere else in the book.The guy is telepathically communicating with a dead body. And you keep trying to make an argument for the presence of telepathy in the rest of the novel with such tenuous and tortured inferences. I'm sorry, for me,
it would have to be a little more present than the things that you're spinning. I don't care that there is telepathy between characters in his other books, I only care how it works here. But if you want to put a little soap on the gears to keep the machine running, that's certainly your prerogative.
I've given responses to to every rebuttal. Ultimately though,it's less important to me that it be flawed than it is to you guys for it to be perfect. If you feel these things are all things I made up, then forget it.
It's a flawless masterpiece.
Last edited by ArthurFrayn; October 7th, 2006 at 12:53 PM.