His didactic materials
When story-tellers fail:
On Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials
I'll never forget the shocked silence that greeted my ingenuous kindergarten announcement that, "I don't believe in God".
My class-mates, and even my otherwise perfect teacher, Miss Matthews, simply didn't know how to process such a shocking proposition. In Quebec in 1970, a five year-old atheist was nearly as strange and terrible a creature as one with green skin, fangs and a devil's tail. (I exaggerate, but not that much.)
Philip Pullman seems to have shocked much of the Christian world in the same way that I did my kindergarten class. His Dark Materials, a fantasy (or science fiction; see sidebar below) series whose plot revolves around an attempt to kill "god" is obviously at least in part a direct reply to children's books (or "young adult novels") probably best exemplified by the likes of C.S. Lewis' soporific apologia for Christianity, The Chronicles of Narnia.
In any case, the series has been taken as anti-Christian and a quick Google search will quickly find all sorts of horrified and angry reactions to it.
So I, as a both a life-long atheist and a long-time reader of F and SF, am (but for the fact I'm neither a father nor a teenager) am pretty close to Pullman's ideal reader. I approached the first volume with a lot of curiosity and no small amount of hope that I would enjoy it quite a lot.
Read the full review at Edifice Rex Online.
This entry was originally posted at http://ed-rex.dreamwidth.org/10731.html. Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.