Friday, August 27, 2010

The Great Race Vs The Daleks

During my lunch break today I started the short story The Shadow out of Time by Lovecraft.  The description that he gives the Great Race brought to mind Dr Who’s Daleks.  (Now who wasn’t frightened by these exterminating villains when they were 10 years old?  I know I was!).  Lovecraft’s Great Race are massive ten feet high conical beings with flexible appendages which end in eyes, or terminate in massive claws or nippers for holding things.  Okay so the Great Race are biological, and the Daleks were horrible quidgey things living in a mechanised body but even when the Great Race goes to war they use camera like weapons which produce tremendous electrical effects……. sounds like a Dalek to me!
My next audio book was to be Carry Me Down by M J Hyland but I just couldn’t get it to load in sequence into i-Tunes so I gave up. Instead I loaded Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, and it’s really grabbed me. As well as being beautifully read, I really like the characters.  The haughty Margaret Hale whose father’s crisis of faith leads him to leave the church and take his family to the manufacturing district of Milton.  Dixon, the faithful but equally haughty servant.  The nineteen year old Bessy, who is dying because she was sent to work in the cotton mills and has damaged her lungs from breathing in the cotton dust. 
There was (and still is to some extent) a great divide between the North and South of England, as well as the class divisions.  Margaret has spent time in London with wealthy relatives in society, and is quite mortified when she finds out that the wealthy manufacturer her father has befriended originally worked as a ‘shop boy’.  In her eyes he’s is more lower class than she, even though he is much wealthier.  I suppose they will eventually fall in love.  I read Gaskell’s Mary Barton a few years ago and that really opened your eyes to the plight of workers prior to the trade union movement, and what true poverty meant.  Gaskell was a friend of Charles Dickens, and is also well known for her ghost stories, though I can’t recall any at the moment, I’m pretty sure I have read some.
I did pick up Flatland, and am reading through the introduction at the moment.  It will be interesting reading this at the same time as North and South as it is a satire on society during the 1800’s with it’s class distinctions and racist outlooks.  Abbott is asking the reader to look beyond these boundaries, take off the blinkers, and to accept people for more than what they seem to be.  In modern times this book can be read within the realms of the science fiction to accept that though we are three dimensional beings that does not limit other possibilities.  There can be a fourth dimension, and just because we can’t experience it doesn’t mean it’s not there. 
I’m still dribbling through The Time Traveller’s wife.  Clare is 16, and Henry is fading in and out through 1987.  He’s just beaten up a dud date of Clare’s…… I will finish it but it’s just hasn’t caught my interest just yet.  
Well, here's to a good weekend.........

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