asakiyume: (God)
[personal profile] asakiyume
A truck was pulled up in a driveway in my neighborhood. It said "Devine Overhead Doors." (Here's a photo from the company's website, if you'd like to know precisely what it looked like.) Now, it seems that "overhead door" means a garage door that rolls up, but my thoughts went like this:

Devine Divine Overhead Doors

Divine overhead doors


It reminds me of one of the stories in The Ladies of Grace Adieu, where angels poke their heads out of windows in the sky.

In very slightly tangential news, I gave up on Every Heart a Doorway, not for any flaw on its part, but because I realized--belatedly--that I don't like sucking all portal experiences into one framework.

Date: 2018-01-08 04:21 pm (UTC)
cmcmck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cmcmck
What we call an 'up and over' door.

Not sure how divine they usually are though! :o)

Date: 2018-01-08 04:45 pm (UTC)
osprey_archer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] osprey_archer
Every Heart a Doorway sounds like it has a fantastically cool premise, but everything I've heard about it suggests that it doesn't do it justice. Which is too bad!

Although even if it did a better job overall, I'm not sure that would take care of the "sucking all portal experiences into one framework" problem. I guess it depends by what you mean by framework. Do you mean that the book suggests there's one underlying cause for all portal experiences? Or does having kids with different portal experiences meet make them all part of the same framework, even if the underlying cause is different?

Date: 2018-01-08 05:15 pm (UTC)
osprey_archer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] osprey_archer
I think a good author might be able to make something thematically coherent out of having people who have experienced different kinds of portal experiences meet - but it would be hard, and it would become exponentially harder the more portal experiences you add to the mix.

And I'm not sure that putting together, say, Narnia and E. Nesbit's nonsense worlds would ever come to much - there's no thematic weight to a nonsense world. Although now that I've said this, I think you might be able to do something with Narnia and Wonderland, even though Wonderland is probably the ur-nonsense world. It has some underlying structure to it, I guess?

But - swinging back around again - I'm not sure what a story would gain from that comparison. Maybe the idea of kids from multiple portal stories meeting is the kind of thing that sounds cool but just fizzles into nothing when you actually try it.

Date: 2018-01-08 07:59 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Rotwang)
From: [personal profile] sovay
The crazy thing is, since this story isn't dealing with actual extant portal story characters, it could avoid this problem all together, but it doesn't: even though it's creating all the various different portal experiences out of whole cloth, it still mixes whimsy with serious storytelling.

Caitlín R. Kiernan's "Onion" has a similar premise of a support group for people who have each had some transient interaction with another world, but none of the worlds are drawn one-for-one from any kind of portal fantasy or paranormal experience, and part of the point of the story turns out to be that not everyone in the group even reacts the same way: the protagonist was shaken for life by his childhood glimpse of red cinnamon fields and strange things moving beneath a bruise-colored sky, but his lover lives for the moments when her own strange underwater world rises and wraps around her, trilling and singing and leaving their bathroom full of weird-looking seaweeds, and if someday she drowns in it, she'd rather that than the rest of her life stuck here. I love that story. Every Heart a Doorway sounds increasingly like the unsatisfactory YA version, which I am sorry to hear.

Date: 2018-01-08 08:25 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Rotwang)
From: [personal profile] sovay
"Onion" sounds just beautiful. Is it available for standalone purchase?

I don't think so: it was published originally in Wrong Things (2001) with Billy Martin, reprinted in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: 15th Annual Collection (2002) by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, which is where I first encountered it, collected in To Charles Fort, with Love (2005), and collected again in Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan, Vol. 1 (2011). If any of these are in your library, go for it!

Date: 2018-01-09 04:23 am (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
Onion is amazing, like nearly everything Kiernan writes. I remember reading it standing up in a B&N when it was in that Best Of anthology and nearly passing out right there.

Date: 2018-01-08 09:17 pm (UTC)
osprey_archer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] osprey_archer
The funny thing is that Alice was based on a real girl, so you'd think she'd have more heft and solidity, but as a character - she's really just a viewpoint, isn't she? A transparent eyeball for the reader (to borrow a phrase from Emerson.)

I suppose when Carroll was telling the stories to Alice Liddell and her sisters he didn't need to add characterization with Alice sitting right there.

Lucy Pevensie IIRC is also named after a real child (the first Narnia book is dedicated to her), but not really based on her. That probably allows more scope for character development.

Date: 2018-01-08 09:31 pm (UTC)
osprey_archer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] osprey_archer
This happens with crossover fics a lot, I've noticed. There are a lot of crossovers that sound interesting in theory, but once you try to actually write them then the differences between the two stories/worlds make it impossible. The characters in one world are more developed and it makes the characters from the other look thin or even incoherent. One of the stories functions on that slightly absurdist sitcom logic that doesn't fit with a more down-to-earth canon. Or the world-building is just incompatible.

I think this last one works against Harry Potter crossovers a lot. The worldbuilding has a distinctive weirdness to it that makes it hard to mesh with anything else.

Date: 2018-01-09 01:24 pm (UTC)
marycatelli: (Default)
From: [personal profile] marycatelli
Well, all those hearing the story probably read the Alice they knew into it.

Date: 2018-01-09 10:15 am (UTC)
selidor: (Default)
From: [personal profile] selidor
I think it's more (having read this and the next one) that the whimsy is put there in a very particular sense: to have every character's experience in their own personal world explicitly validated by the text. So the other characters react in-keeping to a person whose world was in the Nonsense part of the world-space, because that's how they need to communicate.

(If it helps any, there aren't any whimsy characters past the first quarter or so of this one).

Date: 2018-01-08 07:48 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Lord Peter Wimsey)
From: [personal profile] sovay
It's that combination that's making for all the maladjusted kids that need the special school--but that's just not a combination I see that frequently.

So the Narnia filter is being applied to all forms of portal fantasy, even when these conditions were not a factor in the original template. That sounds very . . . flattening. And like the thing that bugs me so much about neo-noir where the received version has become more real than the thing itself, and everyone treats it like the authentic thing and praises themselves for subverting it when the original was actually more subversive in the first place.

[edit] It would be significantly more interesting to have the different kids from different portal worlds actually have had different experiences, as opposed to the same kind of experience in different registers of whimsy or dark—the kid with the Wonderland experience of one hot afternoon's sojourn in a realm of rigorously logical nonsense might be messed up from it, or miss it, or keep trying to find a way back in, but they would not fundamentally understand the time-shock of the kid who spent twenty years in Narnia and neither of them would share much with the kid who goes down every winter to reign over the land of the dead and that's just how it is.
Edited Date: 2018-01-08 07:52 pm (UTC)

Date: 2018-01-08 08:28 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Rotwang)
From: [personal profile] sovay
--but who knows! Maybe some of them can.

At least one of them should be able to: Dorothy could. Dorothy eventually moves to Oz permanently, along with the people who comprise her home, so she doesn't even have to choose between them. If you don't take that into account in your modern portal fantasy remix, you have left out a major part of the tradition.

I gather from reviews that what people complain about with this story is actually that it veers away from the whole return-from-a-magical-land-will-mess-you-up premise to a thriller-murder-mystery (I think? I think that's what I've read), which is just plain abandoning any attempt to examine the premise (if that's what the story does in fact do)

That does seem like a very different sort of story.

Date: 2018-01-08 08:50 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Rotwang)
From: [personal profile] sovay
And not just Dorothy and her family, but the other visitors, like Trot and Betsy Bobbin and Button Bright and the Shaggy Man.

Good point! There is a lot of traffic between Earth and Oz.

Date: 2018-01-08 08:53 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Sydney Carton)
From: [personal profile] sovay
It's looking more and more like I should either quickly skim the rest of the story or else just talk hypothetically, rather than in reference to the novella.

That's fair. I don't want to put you in the position of arguing either for or against something you have not read!

Date: 2018-01-09 10:18 am (UTC)
selidor: (Default)
From: [personal profile] selidor
The rest of the novella does in fact address all these concerns: examining returning and its possibility (and happening) motivates all the plot. I totally empathize if it didn't pull you in enough to stay with though asakiyume :)

Date: 2018-01-09 05:10 am (UTC)
marycatelli: (Default)
From: [personal profile] marycatelli
That was, however, not his original conception. He had to go on write Oz books because nothing else pulled in the money. One notes he manages to introduce major inconsistencies between even the first and the second book.

Date: 2018-01-09 05:30 am (UTC)
marycatelli: (Default)
From: [personal profile] marycatelli
Oh, yes. In the book she wants to go home from the get-go, and never wavers. Learning this was something the movie tacked on. (And didn't integrate. For instance, why was she going to see the wizard if not to go home? Why not just stay put? Or have adventures?)

Date: 2018-01-09 06:35 am (UTC)
sovay: (I Claudius)
From: [personal profile] sovay
One notes he manages to introduce major inconsistencies between even the first and the second book.

Agreed, but however reluctantly he took to it, it is part of the original Baum canon, not even a Ruth Plumly Thompson addition, and therefore I think fair game for being acknowledged by any engagement with the trope.

Date: 2018-01-09 01:25 pm (UTC)
marycatelli: (Default)
From: [personal profile] marycatelli
It does complicate the treatment of it.

Date: 2018-01-08 09:05 pm (UTC)
osprey_archer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] osprey_archer
Now that you mention it, I don't think I have read any other stories that have that particular combo. In Pamela Dean's Secret Country trilogy, the kids fix it so that no time passes while they're gone - but that's because they've read Narnia; and in any case they're only gone for a few weeks, IIRC.

In Delia Sherman's The Freedom Maze, the heroine is gone no time at all - but she grows a few inches while she's away, and that stays with her when she comes home. (Of course that's a somewhat different book, because she goes to the past rather than a fantasy land.)

Are Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials books portal fantasies? I suppose technically they are, although I don't usually think of them that way. The characters are banned from traveling between worlds eventually, but not because they've reached a certain age (although honestly I thought it was even more unfair than the ban in Narnia. I know the series is meant as an anti-Narnia reaction but I think it ends up repeating a lot of Narnia's mistakes and adding a few of its own).

I haven't read Lev Grossman's The Magicians, but it also is engaging specifically with Narnia, so I'm curious if it follows this template too.

And of course there's Oz or Wonderland, which are both different again, or something like Fog Magic where the fog serves as a portal of sorts - but the heroine is never gone more than an afternoon.

Date: 2018-01-08 09:24 pm (UTC)
osprey_archer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] osprey_archer
You've mentioned Drujienna's Harp before. I've gone ahead and put an interlibrary loan on it; it must be worth reading if it left such an impression on you.

Plus it's been a while since I read a portal fantasy, and all this discussion of them is giving me a yen.

Date: 2018-01-08 09:39 pm (UTC)
osprey_archer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] osprey_archer
I looked Ellen Kindt McKenzie up, and it turns out I've read one of her other books! Stargone John, which popped up in the library database when I searched for books about gifted children lo these many years ago.

I remember one scene very vividly - at school everyone thinks that he can't read or write at all, and then when one of his classmates is teasing him he writes "Jane is Bad" on the board. Not very nice, but definitely an exhibition of skill!

Date: 2018-01-09 04:28 am (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
Aww, that's lovely.

Date: 2018-01-09 05:03 am (UTC)
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
From: [personal profile] sovay
I know the series is meant as an anti-Narnia reaction but I think it ends up repeating a lot of Narnia's mistakes and adding a few of its own).

*drive-by +1*

Date: 2018-01-09 05:07 am (UTC)
marycatelli: (Default)
From: [personal profile] marycatelli
There's always the whole metaphysical aspect of it -- how on earth are all those worlds possible?

A nonsense world implies that anything can happen. If so, why not in other worlds?

Date: 2018-01-08 07:45 pm (UTC)
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
From: [personal profile] sovay
Now, it seems that "overhead door" means a garage door that rolls up, but my thoughts went like this

I like that!

I would also accept an angelic garage.

Date: 2018-01-08 08:20 pm (UTC)
queenoftheskies: queenoftheskies (Default)
From: [personal profile] queenoftheskies
I love your sketch!

Date: 2018-01-09 05:40 am (UTC)
zyzyly: (Default)
From: [personal profile] zyzyly
Haha my first thought was Andy Devine.

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