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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Discussions About Orson Scott Card » 1st Half of Magic Street (Spoilers) (Page 1)

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Author Topic: 1st Half of Magic Street (Spoilers)
unluckymolly
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Hey, y'all!

I have a question, actually - this is the Orson Scott Card forum, and I hope someone's actually read his new book Magic Street. I picked it up at the library a few days ago, and I've gotten about three chapters in and I'm kind of getting the urge to strangle someone. (Or, if you haven't guessed: I've got some not-so-very complimentary opinions right about now.)

So: SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST HALF OF MAGIC STREET, WARNING WARNING WARNING.

Magic Street is a fairy tale, right? About this kid found in a grocery bag when he was only a couple days old and adopted by a nurse from a local hospital. And because it's a fairy tale about an abandoned kid, we can safely assume that it's gonna follow the find your parents, blah blah blah, basic rules of fairytales.

I can dig it. I - I'm not so fond of that trick Card has, when he wants to show a poor but intelligent character - in the dialogue, he'll mangle their grammar and throw in some five-dollar words, and that particular trick always makes me roll my eyes but whatever, whatever, I'm grooving, I can deal with it.

See, the real STOP the car, WHAT the **** moment came when a character is talking about Miz Smitcher, the protagonist's adopted mother, and he says she told Mack to call her Miz Smitcher, not mother, because she didn't like to take titles she hadn't earned.

That whoomph noise you heard? That was my brain BLOWING UP IN PURE OUTRAGE.

(I'll spare you the swearing and the snarling and the spitting, but seriously to god, what is he thinking? It's one thing if he wants his thirteen-year-old protagonist to get bitchy about not having "real" parents, but to have his adopted mother - the woman who took him in and fed him and bought him clothes for thirteen years - say that she hasn't earned the title? What, that doesn't count? It's not ****ing enough, Mr Card? Adoption isn't real work; you're not a parent until you've dragged a fetus around in your belly for nine months and spent twelve hours shoving it out?

(And now, apparently, Mack is the product of a magical virgin pregnancy - which sounds a hell of a lot like rape to me, although I'm sure we'll never discuss that in the text. Because - and Mr Card, I am the last person who wants to discuss your weird religious issues, you tell a good story especially when you're not getting creepy like this, but if you force them upon me like this - in Christianity, y'know, women welcome being magically impregnated, because it means they'll be important in the grand scheme of things. They won't do anything, obviously; action is for their sons, they're just the vessels, but they'll passively accept the burden of pregnancy with none of the benefits. See here Magic Street, again, where Mack's "mother" is impregnated and gives birth in about two hours and retains no memory of it, although her husband and son do, and of course they're very territorial and pissed about it, and it comes from that gross place where it's all about don't touch MY woman, don't come into MY house and do weird magical things to MY woman, like, hello, woman has a brain of her own, how does she feel about being magically impregnated? How does her storyline get resolved? We don't know. We don't know because she doesn't remember because why does she need to remember when her magical pregnancy is all about how it pisses off her husband and her son?)

I guess what bugs me is ok, if you must spit in a character's face, you must, but ****'s sake, don't make a character spit in their own face.

And I understand that some of this is just his way of adhering to the lines of the fairytale - in every fairytale, the adopted parents are horrible or they don't matter, and the parents that share the child's DNA are of course wonderful perfect parents. Which is gross.

So. Anyone read the book all the way? Do we stick with the gross "the woman who's cared for you for thirteen years is not any kind of mother to you, because blood is the most important ****ing thing in the world," and the even ickier "woman was raped to create protagonist, but does not matter enough to remember it," or do we get a little character growth? Because I'm about halfway through now, but the mystery isn't enough to keep me reading if he keeps following these themes.


(And I haven't even TALKED about the mysterious evil woman - of course the only woman who's shown even a smidgen of sexual desire - who's already been textually compared to the devil. [Wall Bash] I don't remember Card hatin' quite so hard on women the last time I read his books, is this new?

ahaha, ok, yes, i know, that's definitely a "so when did card stop beating his wife" kind of question, but for seriously, people!)

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Launchywiggin
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hi molly. Welcome to Hatrack.

Finish the book.

If you still have unanswered questions, come back with the spirit of discussion rather than frustrated complaining and lambasting of our favorite author. We don't appreciate it and I'm sure he doesn't either.

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Puffy Treat
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You think Card had the Bag Man give Mack's biological mother a magical pregnancy and amnesia in order to bash women?

(Because authors always agree with everything their characters do and say. Not.)

You think the Motorcycle Woman is evil?

Please, read the rest of the book.

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Synesthesia
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I agree. Finish it.
But I do get your points about adoption and stuff.
But, you got to finish the book, it gets better.
I like that book a lot, except one part kind of annoyed me a bit and I won't get into that.
But you do have a cool writing style, so welcome.

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SteveRogers
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I really liked this book.
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Dark as night
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I agree with everyone above. You have to finish the book. I toyed with the idea of attempting to answer some of your questions, but then decided that you will find those answers yourself. If not, like Launchy said, come back for a good discussion. By the way, I loved this book.

And welcome to Hatrack! [Wave]

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unluckymolly
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Well! <blushes> Honestly, I know I came on very strong here, so everyone who said hi, thank you! And thanks for the encouragement; I'm gonna keep plowing through and see where it goes.
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JennaDean
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I remember being totally confused after the first chapter or so. Card is my favorite author because of the way he draws characters, makes you really feel them and care about them. And here he starts out the book with these characters that just seemed so unreal to me ... they weren't drawn fully enough for me to care about. This woman has a baby within hours of becoming pregnant, and then doesn't even remember it? And I find myself really not even caring about her? I was very confused, because one thing in common among all his books is that I cared deeply about the characters.

I finally realized that these parents in the beginning of the book - they weren't really the main characters. That's why the time wasn't taken to fully flesh them out enough for me to care about them. They were back-story. We had to know where he came from, how he came into the world in a magical way; but it was not a story about his birth parents.

Once I realized who the story was really about, I enjoyed it a lot more.

And just because his characters hold certain opinions - even opinions about themselves - doesn't mean Card holds those opinions. In fact, when he has his characters holding opinions that he doesn't agree with, he often shows later how they were wrong.

One more thing: "magical" births are not just found in Christianity, the stories are common to many cultures and fairy-tales. I don't remember this story having a whole lot of Christianity in it at all, frankly. He just started with a fairy-tale birth.

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mr_porteiro_head
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First of all, don't assume that OSC's characters are all advocates of his personal views. A character her created saying something is not the same thing as him saying it., feel free. W

They're characters.

quote:
I am the last person who wants to discuss your weird religious issues
Well, it's a good thing you didn't bring them up then.

quote:
And I understand that some of this is just his way of adhering to the lines of the fairytale - in every fairytale, the adopted parents are horrible or they don't matter, and the parents that share the child's DNA are of course wonderful perfect parents. Which is gross.
I was about to say "It's as though you didn't even read the book," but then I remembered that you haven't.

Finish the book. And then, if you still what to gripe about it, we'll still be here.

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Scott R
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quote:
I don't remember this story having a whole lot of Christianity in it at all, frankly.
Any chapter with Word in it has Christian elements to it.

quote:
when he has his characters holding opinions that he doesn't agree with, he often shows later how they were wrong.
Does he? I never noticed this tendency.

I really enjoyed Magic Street. I didn't have any of the problems that unluckymolly mentioned.

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El JT de Spang
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quote:
I finally realized that these parents in the beginning of the book - they weren't really the main characters. That's why the time wasn't taken to fully flesh them out enough for me to care about them. They were back-story. We had to know where he came from, how he came into the world in a magical way; but it was not a story about his birth parents.
If it wasn't for Water Baby (the short story that was expanded into Magic Street), they'd have been featured even less. I think that would have been a positive edit.

I echo all the advice that goes like this: finish the book, and then come and civilly state what you did or did not like.

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Rakeesh
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Welcome to Hatrack, unluckymolly. You certainly seem passionate, at the least! I agree with your views on adoption, that even though it lacks the physical and mental struggle involved in carrying a fetus and childbirth...well, I don't really think those things are what makes a parent any more than I think donating some sperm to a female makes one a father.

Now, that said...

How can you expect to be taken seriously when you're not even done with the story yet, eh? I'd advise less tantruming and more finishing the book before you begin with the criticisms, even though I understand you're feeling outraged about the half-completed set of ideas you've finished reading.

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Scooter
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Excuse the sarcams, but--"wow, a character in a book who has a worldview I don't agree with--that touches a personal nerve. That author must be crazy, have a wierd religion, be drawing upon tired cliches," etc.

I suspect you have read many a book with characters that hold a variety of view points, and your brain doesn't explode because you don't agree with some of them. My guess is that adoption is very important to you and you have strong feelings about it--but for your brain's sake, (and I hate to sound condenscending here) this--like many other books--is a story that includes characters with diverse view points, some of which you will disagree with.

(Yes, saved another brain today!) [Cool]

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Dagonee
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quote:
I'll spare you the swearing and the snarling and the spitting, but seriously to god, what is he thinking? It's one thing if he wants his thirteen-year-old protagonist to get bitchy about not having "real" parents, but to have his adopted mother - the woman who took him in and fed him and bought him clothes for thirteen years - say that she hasn't earned the title? What, that doesn't count? It's not ****ing enough, Mr Card? Adoption isn't real work; you're not a parent until you've dragged a fetus around in your belly for nine months and spent twelve hours shoving it out?
He's thinking that this character is DIFFERENT than you or me or most other people, and that one of these differences is an unusual mix of formality (for example, titles having formal requirements) and informality (seen throughout the book).

Beyond that, he might be thinking that "different" is not the same as "less than." He might further be thinking that a reader having the reaction you are having - assuming that he thinks Miz Smitcher is "less" because she's not the mother (as SHE defines it) - probably is exposing the reader's views more than his own.

I think the real question here is "Why do you think so little of adoptive parents that you think they need to hide the fact that they aren't biological parents?"

It's not a particularly fair question, but it's more fair than the question you asked about Magic Street. Adoptive parents who care as lovingly for their adoptees as Miz Smitcher did certainly are wonderful and deserving of praise. Acknowledging the difference between her an the woman who gave birth only "lessens" her if YOU bring that baggage to your interpretation.

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Perplexity'sDaughter
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Welcome! I'm pretty new too!Ü

I definitely agree with most of the posts above-finish the book.

I think you'll find you were a little quick to make assumptions about how the book is going to end and how the characters are going to turn out. That's one of the things Card does best: surprise you.

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pooka
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I think the "fairy tale" moniker is misleading. I'm not sure where it came from, though I had read that as well.

Well, if you want proof of what you already think about Mr. Card, maybe you should read Kingsmeat. [Wink]

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mr_porteiro_head
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Brilliant!
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pooka
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:bows:
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Survivor
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My complaint about Magic Street was that Card alludes to the transcultural nature of these faerae or whatever you call em, and even introduces a character with a background in African mythology, but then bases everything on a single play by Shakespeare. I had a similar complaint about The Elephants of Posan, with the difference that there I thought the attempt to assert that elephants have some kind of deep theological significance in Christianity (rather than looking to other religious sources, hello) was the culprit.

Enchantment was much better, he really convinced me that the whole thing with Ivan and Baba Yaga and all was probably the result of some kind of lost history. Perhaps not a temporally transposed passanger aircraft worth, and certainly not a magical talking bear as what shouldn't be talking's worth, but enough that I felt he could have done a much better job finding faerie parallels in other mythology (not necessarily African) or at least looking past one play (however brilliant).

Also, the end was kinda freaky [Wink]

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DDDaysh
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Magic street is dull at first, but it leaves open enough doors that you just can't quit reading it, which is a good thing, because it gets much better.

As far as things being somewhat similar in all of his books, of COURSE they're going to be, HE wrote all of them. A person can't help the fact that their viewpoint comes across the same way. He tried something new, if he didn't pull off a perfect cross culture book it's because he isn't living a cross culture life... for that matter, no one really does. (cut here to alot of stuff from Children of the mind about people knowing other people)

I personally wouldn't rate Magic Street as one of my favorite books, but since "A Midsummers Nights Dream" is about the only Shakespear play that I actually LIKED I found Magic Street to be one of the most artistic books he'd written, and I'm very glad I read it.

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Puppy
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quote:
I personally wouldn't rate Magic Street as one of my favorite books, but since "A Midsummers Nights Dream" is about the only Shakespear play that I actually LIKED I found Magic Street to be one of the most artistic books he'd written, and I'm very glad I read it.
Define "artistic" in this context.
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BandoCommando
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quote:
Originally posted by Puppy:
quote:
I personally wouldn't rate Magic Street as one of my favorite books, but since "A Midsummers Nights Dream" is about the only Shakespear play that I actually LIKED I found Magic Street to be one of the most artistic books he'd written, and I'm very glad I read it.
Define "artistic" in this context.
I'm curious what "artistic" means, as well. Personally, many of my favorite turns-of-phrases (an art form in itself) come from Card's works.
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rivka
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I mostly liked Magic Street because every time I pass the landmarks now I get a thrill. [Wink]

Ok, that's not really the main reason. It is fun, though. [Big Grin]

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unluckymolly
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Whee, finished it!

And. um. I know I kind of deserved all the smacks I got for talking - excuse the pun - smack about a book I hadn't really read. So! Apologies!

That said...yeah, I read Ender's Game when I was, like, twelve, and drifted away from scifi-fantasy for several years. And I've recently started getting back into it (now that I'm twenty and oh-so-old) and I remembered really <i>liking</i> Card when I was a kid.

Look, I <i>was</i> wrong to jump all over the adoption before the storyline had been resolved. That was me, putting my foot in my mouth.

I've still got some serious issues with how he does women and sexuality and mothers and sex, in this particular book, but I realize I've already been pretty aggressive here, so I will stfu already, my goodness.

(Survivor: yeah, what threw me was that all the characters who saw fairyland all managed to integrate it pretty seamlessly with christianity - I mean, I don't think anyone had a huh, does Jesus fit into the idea of a fairyland and immortals that actually exist? I think it was done better in Enchantment, where we had characters actually explaining how Jesus and Christianity fit into a polytheistic world. But whatever, whatever, still not a bad story.)

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JennaDean
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
quote:
when he has his characters holding opinions that he doesn't agree with, he often shows later how they were wrong.
Does he? I never noticed this tendency.
Sorry, I didn't see this before now. I guess I was thinking of a couple instances but didn't want to spoil it when she hadn't finished the book yet. First of all, when Miz Smitcher won't allow him to call her "mother" because she hasn't earned it, doesn't she change her tune by the end of the book? It's sort of a pivotal moment, if I remember correctly.

The only other instance I can remember right now is something in the Ender books - when Ender is dying, Novinha hears Plikt give a harsh assessment of her and knows instinctively that it is true, and weeps because of it. I completely believed that moment. But then Valentine slaps Plikt and yells at her for lying to Novinha. Novinha says, "No, it's true." And Valentine proceeds to tell why it feels true for her but it isn't really true or fair.

Actually it's one of the things I like about Card, that he can have characters who completely believe something (and therefore we believe it too) and then it turns out to be false. Like the real world - every premonition does not come true, every foreshadowing does not happen just like the characters thought it would, every character does not stay the same - they change and their opinions change with them.

And for the record, I LOVED Enchantment. I think it's my favorite fairy tale by anyone.

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Puffy Treat
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quote:
Originally posted by unluckymolly:
(Survivor: yeah, what threw me was that all the characters who saw fairyland all managed to integrate it pretty seamlessly with christianity - I mean, I don't think anyone had a huh, does Jesus fit into the idea of a fairyland and immortals that actually exist?

At no point to the Magic Street fairies do what...say...a (fill in fantasy author of this type's name) fairy would do or say-a rant about how all Christians are evil bigots and misguided idiots and that pagan magic is the real truth...yadda-yadda-yadda.

One could argue meeting bona fide supernatural beings would make one more firm in one's belief in divine beings like the Saviour. [Smile]

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Synesthesia
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One of the few things that bugged me about that book was


spoiler


That sex scene where they had to have a sham marriage before hand. I guess it just annoyed me because it was a lecture against premarital sex in the middle of a cool story and I was like, who needs a lecture?
But, it was a funny good book and made me wonder what would happen if you fed a baby coke?
I wouldn't do it, but it would probably give them too much gas or something.

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Puffy Treat
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There are people in real life who don't believe in having sex before they're married. Do they not deserve to be represented in fiction?
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Synesthesia
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I suppose so. I'm not sure if I am one of them, but that's probably not what completely annoyed me.
They were in the middle of mortal peril after all, and technically were already married...
Perhaps the lecturing was what bugged me.

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Lord Of All Fools
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quote:
They were in the middle of mortal peril after all, and technically were already married...
Perhaps the lecturing was what bugged me.

Mack makes the point that Titania was married to Oberon. Mack is not Oberon-- Mack considers himself to be Mack.

As far as the lecturing, Mack didn't lecture. He said what he believed and stuck with it. That's not a lecture-- that's a demonstration of character. Or stubborness.

JennaDean-- that's a good point. Thanks.

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TomDavidson
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I must confess that this particular demonstration of character was one of only two things in Magic Street that felt so incredibly false to me that it temporarily kicked me out of the book.
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Cyronist
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I too picked up the book yesterday, and finished it this morning. I loved it.


And you haven't seen Card in weirdness until you read Emundies in the 3rd floor lavatory. They you can bitch (pardon the language) about card writing weird stuff.

Well welcome to Hatrack!

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Verily the Younger
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I'm sorry, but I couldn't let this stand unchallenged:

quote:
I can dig it. I - I'm not so fond of that trick Card has, when he wants to show a poor but intelligent character - in the dialogue, he'll mangle their grammar and throw in some five-dollar words, and that particular trick always makes me roll my eyes but whatever, whatever, I'm grooving, I can deal with it.
If "mangling their grammar" were what Card did, then you'd be right. That's what third-rate writers do. What Card does is have his characters speak in dialect. That's what real people use when they speak.

To have every character in a black neighborhood in Los Angeles, or a small frontier town, or a military school full of children, speak in flawless Standard English would be so phony that it would throw most readers completely out of the story.

Judging from your posts here, you don't even speak in Standard English all the time. That's not a criticism--Standard English is for formal writing, not for casual conversation. But why would you expect Card's characters to use it all the time when real people from their backgrounds and in their situations simply wouldn't?

I have always found his use of dialect to be one of Card's greatest strengths. He knows how real people actually talk to one another. His characters always talk like they're real people in real situations, rather than literary devices.

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Synesthesia
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He does a great job with dialect, I think.

But I don't quite understand the phrase "Common man"

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Verily the Younger
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Nobody used the phrase "common man".
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Synesthesia
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I know, but it's just something I'm reminded of from the Alvin Maker series, which I am rereading.
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BlackBlade
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I sure hope Molly never gets around to reading Songmaster. I read that book thinking, "Wow I am quite surprised Mr. Card can be so fair to characters this warped."

I like the way Mr. Card handles dialect alot.

I don't read his books to have the best morality spelled out for me. If I did, every book I read would knock a few pillars out and put new ones in, that just does not seem to be Mr. Card's intention.

I read his books though because of the diverse moral view points, and how justified in their own way they seem. Its one of the reasons I like hatrack because it too has this dynamic, albeit with a bit less structure and civility when compared to books, but thats normal [Wink]

If people in hatrack discussed the way people in Card's books do, it would be extremely strange in an awesome sort of way.

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TomDavidson
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I think people in Hatrack DO discuss the way people in Card's books do. [Smile]
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ketchupqueen
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quote:
Originally posted by Lord Of All Fools:
quote:
They were in the middle of mortal peril after all, and technically were already married...
Perhaps the lecturing was what bugged me.

Mack makes the point that Titania was married to Oberon. Mack is not Oberon-- Mack considers himself to be Mack.

As far as the lecturing, Mack didn't lecture. He said what he believed and stuck with it. That's not a lecture-- that's a demonstration of character. Or stubborness.

JennaDean-- that's a good point. Thanks.

I actually thought that part was more about Mack asserting his self-ness, his otherness from Oberon, than about marriage. Just my take on it. [Smile]
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Sibyl
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quote:
Originally posted by Synesthesia:

But, it was a funny good book and made me wonder what would happen if you fed a baby coke?
I wouldn't do it, but it would probably give them too much gas or something.

Gas would be the first thing, and probably painful (colic), but I'd worry more about the caffeine, and other ingredients. This is a newborn, after all, and for the whole first year or two, mother's milk or formula really gives them all they _need_, and you introduce new foods one at a time, very simple foods, and see whether that particular food is going to agree with them--about two weeks or more apart. Coca-Cola really has a lot of caffeine, more than coffee, even, I believe, and it's a pretty strong drug if you aren't accustomed to it, even for an adult who has a lot of body mass to spread it through. Babies have seriously delicate and touchy digestive systems. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Coke were fatal.
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Synesthesia
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*shudder*

Kind of like rabbits.

It still was vaguely amusing the way the child thought of doing it after the nurse told him not to.

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Scott R
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quote:
I wouldn't be at all surprised if Coke were fatal.
It's not.

As for gas/colic: the carbonation in soda is likely to come out in babies the way it comes out in adults-- as burping.

The reasons for colic are not known. I don't think soda is one of the contributing factors. [Smile]

Also, according to this website, coffee has a lot more caffeine/oz than Coca-Cola.

I do agree with the main point of your post, if not the details-- it's not a good idea to feed newborns soda.

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Seatarsprayan
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quote:
One could argue meeting bona fide supernatural beings would make one more firm in one's belief in divine beings like the Saviour.
On the contrary, since christianity claims there is no other God but YHWH, finding real fairies with magic powers would be a pretty good falsification of christianity.
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DDDaysh
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That is only if you believe that the word "God" equates to "magical". However, if you believe that there is a difference between being "God" and being supernaturally powerful, then there is no reason to believe that fairies would, in any way, contradict "God".

There is quite a bit of this sort of discussion in "Seventh Son". *Spoilers**Spoilers**Spoilers**Spoilers**Spoilers**Spoilers**Spoilers**Spoilers*
Think of how Reverend Thrower thinks that believing in curses and hexing is against Christianity simply because it is foolish, compared to how Armor-of-God thinks it is against it because you should trust in God instead of in Magic. The idea presented there is much the same as an argument about how fairies would impact the reality of God.

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umberhulk
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Bag Man is one of my favorite OSC characters, but Magic Street is my least favorite book. Some of the high school comic relief annoyed me (but some of the other comedy is the best in any card book), and the ending is dull.

Good book though.

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El JT de Spang
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quote:
Originally posted by Seatarsprayan:
quote:
One could argue meeting bona fide supernatural beings would make one more firm in one's belief in divine beings like the Saviour.
On the contrary, since christianity claims there is no other God but YHWH, finding real fairies with magic powers would be a pretty good falsification of christianity.
Seriously?

You bumped a 21 month old thread to say this?

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Flaming Toad on a Stick
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Necromancy! Kill it, kill it with fire!
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rivka
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*burns FToaS to ash*

So kind of you to provide your own stake. And fire!

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PSI Teleport
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quote:
On the contrary, since christianity claims there is no other God but YHWH, finding real fairies with magic powers would be a pretty good falsification of christianity.
Yeah, but it doesn't claim that there are no other supernatural beings. In fact, it names several of them. Sheesh.
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Seatarsprayan
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Hmm, good point. Although they are always subject to God's power which is absolute. Of course the existence of fairies would still falsify *my* beliefs since I believe the Bible teaches miracles would cease after the 1st century, and they don't occur today. But that's a subtler point.
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