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Somewhere on my hard drive there are about 8,000 words of a story I wanted to write whereby my favorite writers actually became protagonists. The story pits JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Owen Barfield, and Charles Williams against Arthur Machen, the aging Cambion of Prydain, and his disciples, the occultist Alistair Crowley and the parapsychologist Alexander Cannon.
Machen, Crowley and Cannon are plotting against the Throne, attempting to manipulate Edward, the dissolute Prince of Wales, into marrying a q’arinah and opening Britain to occult influence in the way that their counterparts in Germany have succeeded with the Nazis.
Each of the writers held a particular responsibility; Tolkien was the Chief Druid, responsible for the embattled natural environment of Britain. Lewis was the Warder, the doorkeeper of the Thin Places where commerce between the natural and the supernatural took place. Williams was the Archmage Protector, who defends the realm against the dark powers, and Barfield was the Lord Emergent, the custodian of the still-nascent Council of Albion, responsible for guiding the English soul towards Final Participation.
For many reasons, not the least of which is that I am American, the story never got written.
But other stories have. The first one I heard about was Heaven’s War, a graphic novel written by Micah Harris and illustrated by Michael Gaydos. According to what I have read about it, it has Williams in the starring role against the diabolical Crowley, with Tolkien and Lewis as supporting characters. I need to overcome my prejudice against graphic novels and pick this one up. It is not supposed to be very good from the dramatic point of view, but it abounds in Inklings trivia, and is supposed to include a long dialogue between Williams and Crowley about co-inherence which would delight Williams fans.
A couple of years ago, maybe as far back as 2004, a series of fantastic books for young adults was begun by an American writer James A. Owen called Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica . Three young British soldiers have their summons to World War I interrupted by the Caretaker of an imaginary realm which is under siege by the Winter King. I know even less about this series, but the author uses the nickname “Chaz” for Charles Williams and “Ron” for Tolkien, which grate on anyone who knows these authors as anything other than action figures. Williams was called “Serge” by his closest friends, and Tolkien, affectionately, was known as “Tollers”.
But, at least he got Jack Lewis right.
The news that Guillermo del Toro and Neil Gaiman were collaborating on a short film called Death And Me , and that the film had just recently moved out of limbo and into active production sparked a controversy in our family as to which actress should portray Gaiman’s perky little Goth-girl Grim Reaper:
I always thought that Selma Blair would be the perfect choice. She’s dark-haired, slender, puckishly beautiful, and has experience in the fantasy/horror genre (Scream 2, Hellboy). My children were aghast. “Dad, you do know she’s almost forty, don’t you?” It was to no avail that I tried to point out that Gaiman’s fictional character was a good deal older than forty. Indeed, forty centuries would probably be a better measure. It didn’t matter. Death should have no wrinkles.
My son wanted to see Thora Birch (Ghost World, American Beauty) take on the part. Miss Birch is an impressive actress and I think she could bring both what my son calls “indie cred” and old-fashioned sex appeal to the part, but a large part of Death’s cachet is her appearance of waifish vulnerability. Miss Birch can certainly do vulnerable, but waifish she is not.
My daughter stood up for current Disney Channel queen Demi Lovato. Demi is dark, slender and very pretty, but she doesn’t have a hint of mystery about her. I was surprised that she didn’t mention fellow Disney protegée Selena Gomez. Selena has the same coloring as Miss Lovato, but she looks more like she could have a mysterious side. Of course, here we are talking about very young women with no track record outside the tightly programmed Disney teen market environment, but then former “Diz kids” like Reese Witherspoon and Hayden Panetierre have emerged from that environment and have established themselves well in the larger world.
Finally, this past week, I was able to catch a movie I had been wanting to see for some time; 500 Days Of Summer. The movie didn’t really live up to its hype. As a chronicle of post-modern relationships among the angsty twenty-something Belle and Sebastian set, I have seen better, but I thought the female lead, Zooey Deschanel, despite the obvious Glass family reference, deserved to be on any short list to play Gaiman’s heroine.
Anybody else with me?