Monday, April 02, 2012

Spirits in the Wires by Charles de Lint - Discussion Part 1

Spirits in the Wires (Newford #13) by Charles de Lint

A Discussion of the 1st Half of the Book.
At a popular Newford online research and library Web site called the Wordwood, a mysterious crash occurs. Everyone visiting the site at the moment of the crash vanishes from where they were sitting in front of their computers. Christy Ridding's girldfriend Saskia disappears right before his eyes, along with countless others.
To rescue their missing friends, Christy and his companions must journey into Newford's otherworld, where the Wordwood, it transpires, has a physical presence of its own...
Today I am discussing the first half of Spirits in the Wire with Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings. We are reading it together as part of the Once Upon a Time Challenge. Be sure and check out his blog for his answers!

This week I cam up with 5 questions and next week Carl will come up with questions about the second half.

1. What are your initial impressions of Spirits in the Wire? How does it compare, so far, with other books you have read by de Lint.
I actually started this book a few years ago before I had read much else by de Lint and I couldn't get into it. I put it aside until later. Now that I have read more books by de Lint I found this one worked really well for me. It mentions character from books that I have read and refers to events that I am aware of from reading them before. I still think all Newford books can be read as standalone books, but it does pay to know what has happened before to get a basis for the storyline. I think I like some of the other story-lines from other books a bit better, but this one is still really good so far.

2. The book has a large cast of characters so far. Are any standing out for you?
I got a bit excited when appearances by Meran and Jilly were hinted around to, but the book isn't bad without them. I have to say there are a LOT of characters. Every time a new chapter starts, there is a new person I swear. I hope they don't add too many more because sometimes I have to think for a second about who is who. It is not too bad, though. You get a chance to get to know the characters. I am sure that people will stand out more as the book progresses.

3. What are your thoughts on the overall theme of the book? Is the idea of ‘Sprits in the Wires’ believable?
I have to admit I was a bit sceptical about the idea behind this book. I am sure that is why it didn't work for me so well the first time around. I wasn't read to give it a chance. Now that I am halfway through the book, though, I think it is a creative idea so far. It does stand to reason that the 'little people' can get inside anything that is habitable for them. There has always been the idea of gremlins in wires, so it is not like it is a new idea. And, really, machinery can have a mind of its own. So, yes, I believe this is a good idea for a book.

4. The book is a bit earlier in computer technology, does this affect your reading of it or do you think it still works for today’s readers?
The technology is a bit dated, but it isn't as bad as it could be to the point where it would take away from the reading. I suppose it helps that I remember when technology was like it is in this book. I am not sure if this book will stand up to future generations, though, but then H.G. Wells and such are still being read and they have limited technology in their books.

5. We have also been introduced to a few ‘other’ characters (the hob, Christy’s shadow, etc). Which is your favourite?
This question is actually a bit hard for me. I really like all the different sort of characters that are introduced in de Lint's book. The hob, for example, is a wonderful character because he loves books and lives in a book store. Then there is Christy's shadow who is a whole lot of fun. These are both characters that I have experienced before and enjoyed in their previous stories. I look forward to what else we are introduced to in the second half of the book.

Don't forget to visit Carl's blog!


  1. I love de Lint. This is a great book, and I to love the Hob, and the shadow. I am going to have to re-read this now.

    1. I hope you enjoy your re-read! I need to read more de Lint...

  2. I see that we had some similar experiences with the start of the book, at least in comparing your initial reaction to my feelings as this first started. I think the conversations between Saskia and Christy's shadow felt more like a tacked on prologue and although I enjoyed them in retrospect I didn't feel like the story really got into a "story-shaped" (to quote Gaiman) flow until a few chapters in. Had the book started at that point I'm not sure there would have been the same issues.

    I like that Meran and Jilly were mentioned a few times too. Also Sophie and Wendy, characters from some of the short stories we've read. Even when I cannot remember everything about them I like the name recognition and that warm glow of knowing that I "know" these people.

    You are write in pointing out that this "spirits in the wires" concept is indeed just a modern take on the whole "gremlins in the machinery" idea, great job in pointing that out. It is possibly the foundation of this not being a new idea coupled with de Lint's skill that take what could be a really silly concept and make it work.

    If books like this stand the test of time I suspect they will fall into more of the mode that today's "classics" do, in that the dated technology and ideas won't be such a big deal because it is a "period" piece. Unlike science fiction which 100 years from now may still be predicting a "future" time but have incredibly outdated technology, stories set in a realistic "present" at least have that working for them.

    Doesn't surprise me that you like the hob too. He is great. Cannot imagine anyone not liking him. I'm so glad we had read that story about Holly and him before this. It adds so much to our feelings about them.

    Really enjoying reading this with you, look forward to the rest of the book.

    1. This buddy read was a lot of fun. I look forward to the next one!

  3. love tuning in on yours and Carl's conversations on books!

    ~L (omphaloskepsis)

  4. I really need to read something by Charles de Lint one of these days.

    1. Yes, everyone should read de Lint!

  5. I haven't read this one by him! this makes me determined to run out tomorrow and buy it. I deserve an Easter treat! lol Now to wait for Carl's answers next week.


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