We had a great time in Boston. The Phillip Pullman panel wound up being moved to a cinema (courtesy of New Line), and we got to watch a sneak preview of Golden Compass after speaking. We played to a packed house of about 160 students and teachers from BU. And as a special treat, Gregory Maguire (aka the dude who wrote Wicked) showed up, and Justine and I got to chat with him later.
During the panel, the religion profs discussed what a great exploration of theology His Dark Materials is, and how useful they’ve found it in their religion classes. We also discussed the bogus controversy around the series and movie, especially the persistent disinformation campaign that claims the protags of HDM “kill God” in the third book. (As those of you who’ve read it know, the Authority is an impostor posing as god, and Lyra and Will don’t actually kill him. Ah, if only the people who love to ban books would, like, learn to read books. Think of all the effort they’d save.)
In my capacity as resident novelist, I mostly went for laughs. But I did try to make some authorly points about Pullman’s awesome narrative structure, and stole some good lines from Carol Wilkinson’s essay in the HDM anthology I edited to talk about the importance of truth and lies in the trilogy.
I must say it’s weird talking in a movie theater, though. Here’s our lovely audience from the screen’s-eye point of view:
Once we were done, we watched the movie, which was really pretty good. It looks absolutely right, and the casting is perfect. The start of the story feels a bit rushed, as is always the case when you make a 100-minute movie out of an epic. But once the action moves up north and Sam Elliot appears as Lee Scoresby, everything gets very armoured bears, and armoured bears are always good.
The trip home provided me with an amusing tale. Our train had a loading mix-up that left us with no lunch, but Gregory Maguire happened to be in the same car, and gave us cookies. How lucky is that?
Thanks to Boston University, fellow panelists Donna Freitas, Christine Hutchison-Jones, and Jason King, and the Luce Program of Scripture and Literary Arts. Also thanks to New Line for renting us a theater and sneaking us a preview.
Free Book Alert! An autographed copy of Uglies is the prize at a contest over at Melissa Walker’s blog! Check it out.