*R* Johnny and the Bomb (possible spoiler)

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Barry Vaughan

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Feb 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/17/97
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Hi,

First thing: If you haven't read Johnny and the Bomb yet,
please be warned that reading this might spoil the ending.

Free space to avoid spoiler ---------

O.K. Has anyone noticed how the 'Johnny' books are all
carefully constructed leave open the possibilty that the
whole thing was just a figment of Johnny's imagination.

That is, except for JatB where at the end, although everyone
starts to forget and it looks like only Johnny will know
it all happened, Kirsty finds physical evidence. (A pickle)

Do you think that Terry deliberately contrived to leave the
endings of the other books open to the 'all in the imagination'
explaination, or do you think that he meant them to be real
and made sure that there was no ambiguity in JatB, but
pretended there was going to be?

Or am I just imagining it? ;)

Barry.

-------------------------------------------------------------
To explain the unknown by the known is a logical procedure,
to explain the known by the unknown is a theological lunacy.
David Brooks
-------------------------------------------------------------
Ba...@samael.demon.co.uk


Paul 'The Doctor' Hiscock

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Feb 20, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/20/97
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Barry Vaughan <Ba...@samael.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>Hi,
>
>First thing: If you haven't read Johnny and the Bomb yet,
>please be warned that reading this might spoil the ending.
>
>Free space to avoid spoiler ---------
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>O.K. Has anyone noticed how the 'Johnny' books are all
>carefully constructed leave open the possibilty that the
>whole thing was just a figment of Johnny's imagination.
>
>That is, except for JatB where at the end, although everyone
>starts to forget and it looks like only Johnny will know
>it all happened, Kirsty finds physical evidence. (A pickle)
>
>Do you think that Terry deliberately contrived to leave the
>endings of the other books open to the 'all in the imagination'
>explaination, or do you think that he meant them to be real
>and made sure that there was no ambiguity in JatB, but
>pretended there was going to be?
>
>Or am I just imagining it? ;)
>

What you refer to is a common literary motif in children's fantasy. A
fantastic adventure that afterwards seems to be a dream, apart from one
obscure piece of evidence that can't be explained any other way. I would
love to give you specific examples but my brain has just gone on strike. I
think it occurs in the Narnia books though.

--
The Doctor

"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning;
seas sleep and rivers dream;
people made of smoke and cities made of song.
Somewhere there is danger, somewhere there is injustice,
somewhere else the tea is getting cold"
Meanwhile in Bangor it just rains!

Terry Pratchett

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Feb 20, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/20/97
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In article <5ehkrn$h...@hydraulix.bangor.ac.uk>, Paul 'The Doctor'
Hiscock <elu...@bangor.ac.uk> writes

>
>>O.K. Has anyone noticed how the 'Johnny' books are all
>>carefully constructed leave open the possibilty that the
>>whole thing was just a figment of Johnny's imagination.
>>
>>That is, except for JatB where at the end, although everyone
>>starts to forget and it looks like only Johnny will know
>>it all happened, Kirsty finds physical evidence. (A pickle)
>>
>>Do you think that Terry deliberately contrived to leave the
>>endings of the other books open to the 'all in the imagination'
>>explaination, or do you think that he meant them to be real
>>and made sure that there was no ambiguity in JatB, but
>>pretended there was going to be?
>>
>>Or am I just imagining it? ;)
>>
>
>What you refer to is a common literary motif in children's fantasy. A
>fantastic adventure that afterwards seems to be a dream, apart from one
>obscure piece of evidence that can't be explained any other way.


Hmm...

In OYCSM Kirsty ('Sigourney') is involved and remembers it, and Wobbler
gets messages from Johnny on his own computer screen. OYCSM is, I
admit, deliberately the most 'equivocal' of the trio. I think it's not
an either/or case -- it's all read AND it's all happening in his
imagination.

In JatD newspapers float in the air, the Dead are heard to speak on the
radio (and the guys in the radio station notice this) and things happen
in the pub and the cinema.

In JatB bits of the town change, Mrs Tachyon has fresh fish and chips
wrapped in a 1941 newspaper and is seen by people in the past after
being in the present, the gang appear mysteriously in front of the old
folks' club, Johnny (I think) finds that there's someone in the old
newspaper picture which (if you know it's Wobbler) looks like Wobbler,
and Johnny also has the playing card missing from his grandad's pack
(and grandad got a medal for running a distance which couldn't possibly
be run in the time). But what happens is the familiar 'history
reasserting itself' motif, as in Back to the Future III -- there have to
be *clues* that the process misses, of course, otherwise there'd be no
point. Remember that (in addition to all the other stuff) it's not the
pickle that's the clue, it's the fact that Kirsty now *remembers*.
--
Terry Pratchett

Barry Vaughan

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Feb 22, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/22/97
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In article <xt87wGA5...@unseen.demon.co.uk>, Terry Pratchett
<tprat...@unseen.demon.co.uk> writes

>In article <5ehkrn$h...@hydraulix.bangor.ac.uk>, Paul 'The Doctor'
>Hiscock <elu...@bangor.ac.uk> writes
>>
>>>
>>
>>What you refer to is a common literary motif in children's fantasy. A
>>fantastic adventure that afterwards seems to be a dream, apart from one
>>obscure piece of evidence that can't be explained any other way.
>
>
>Hmm...
>
>In OYCSM Kirsty ('Sigourney') is involved and remembers it, and Wobbler
>gets messages from Johnny on his own computer screen. OYCSM is, I
>admit, deliberately the most 'equivocal' of the trio. I think it's not
>an either/or case -- it's all read AND it's all happening in his
>imagination.
>

OYCSM introduces the idea that Johnny may be under stress because
of his family difficulties, so I always thought that it might have
been just in his mind.

>In JatD newspapers float in the air, the Dead are heard to speak on the
>radio (and the guys in the radio station notice this) and things happen
>in the pub and the cinema.
>

As I recall, though it's a little while since I read it, 'natural'
explanations are given for all the things that happen. Only Johnny
actually sees the dead. I thought that this was deliberately
ambiguous?

>In JatB bits of the town change, Mrs Tachyon has fresh fish and chips
>wrapped in a 1941 newspaper and is seen by people in the past after

Kirsty points out that reprints of old newspapers can be bought.

>being in the present, the gang appear mysteriously in front of the old
>folks' club, Johnny (I think) finds that there's someone in the old
>newspaper picture which (if you know it's Wobbler) looks like Wobbler,

As you say, you would recognise it if you knew it was him. Isn't this
meant to mean that it might not actually be him? If the gang were
to show the picture to their parents I'm sure they would dismiss it.
(Oh yes dear, that's nice!)

>and Johnny also has the playing card missing from his grandad's pack
>(and grandad got a medal for running a distance which couldn't possibly
>be run in the time). But what happens is the familiar 'history
>reasserting itself' motif, as in Back to the Future III -- there have to
>be *clues* that the process misses, of course, otherwise there'd be no
>point. Remember that (in addition to all the other stuff) it's not the
>pickle that's the clue, it's the fact that Kirsty now *remembers*.

So it is all meant to be real then? Is it all that simple?
I thought it was meant to be a deep exploration of childhood
angst where the protagonists fantasies are projected onto reality
in an attempt to escape into a different world where they are important
and meaningful individuals rather than the rejected and forgotten
people they are in actuality.

But it's really just a story about going back in time using
a Tesco's trolley - oh well.

By the way, it was good to see the way that racism and sexism
where dealt with 'head-on' instead of being glossed over.

Terry Pratchett

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Feb 22, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/22/97
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In article <0Oq8TAA6...@samael.demon.co.uk>, Barry Vaughan
<Ba...@samael.demon.co.uk> writes

>
>So it is all meant to be real then? Is it all that simple?
>I thought it was meant to be a deep exploration of childhood
>angst where the protagonists fantasies are projected onto reality
>in an attempt to escape into a different world where they are important
>and meaningful individuals rather than the rejected and forgotten
>people they are in actuality.
>
I can't be having with that pernicious rubbish. 'Window' books, they
are called: young Sid has big problems at home, so in his dreams he
battles a dragon, and this gives him the strength to deal with the
problems -- as if imagination and fantasy were some kind of medicines.
Yo-less trots out this handy explanation in OYCSM.

I'd be the first to say that the exercise of imagination and humanity's
genius with metaphor can make a huge difference to our lives and are
part of what makes us human. I just hate to see fantasy dismissed as a
kind of poultice or, worse, as a drug. It's led to some godawful smug
books (and some very good ones, I have to admit -- but a lot of
dumb ones too)

There *are* natural explanations for a lot of the things that happen in
the books, if you are desperate to find them (and people will sometimes
go through some serious mental gymnastics to avoid changing their
preconcieved ideas about the universe) But I like to be equivocal about
what is 'real' and what isn't -- to Johnny it's all real, and that's
what counts. 'Saving the Screewee' isn't some code for improving his
own life -- he deals with all the problems on their own terms and half
the time he's projecting reality onto fantasy. Maybe sorting out one
part of your life gives you some strength to sort out others, but you
don't need aliens in your computer to tell you that.

So: is what happens in the books real? Yes. Does it all happen in
Johnny's head? Yes. Are the Dead a metaphor? Yes. Are they real? Yes.
Not just waving, but particalling.

>
>By the way, it was good to see the way that racism and sexism
>where dealt with 'head-on' instead of being glossed over.
>

Yep, no US sales there :-)

--
Terry Pratchett

Derek Lavin

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Feb 22, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/22/97
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In message <ypFvBBAH...@unseen.demon.co.uk>
Terry Pratchett <tprat...@unseen.demon.co.uk> writes:

> I can't be having with that pernicious rubbish. 'Window' books, they
> are called: young Sid has big problems at home, so in his dreams he
> battles a dragon, and this gives him the strength to deal with the
> problems -- as if imagination and fantasy were some kind of medicines.
> Yo-less trots out this handy explanation in OYCSM.

Now, I seem to remember reading a very humerous book which was,
basically, a parody of this whole "Window" book idea. There was this
noble galactic prince, or summat, who was having difficulties dealing
with *HIS* day to day problems - fighting aliens, et cetera - so in
his dreams he slips into a world where he's just a normal person,
dealing with day to day problems like the rest of us. Quite a clever
premise. I was very young at the time of reading. Anyone else aware
of a book along these lines?

I'm not particularly fond of allegory, in any of it's forms. I
remember reading Narnia and taking it all on face value; and then,
later on, finding out all the hidden little odds and ends - for
instance, some of you may know that Aslan was actually Jesus.


Rocky Frisco

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Feb 22, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/22/97
to

Terry Pratchett wrote:

> I can't be having with that pernicious rubbish. 'Window' books, they
> are called: young Sid has big problems at home, so in his dreams he
> battles a dragon, and this gives him the strength to deal with the
> problems -- as if imagination and fantasy were some kind of medicines.
> Yo-less trots out this handy explanation in OYCSM.
>

> I'd be the first to say that the exercise of imagination and humanity's
> genius with metaphor can make a huge difference to our lives and are
> part of what makes us human. I just hate to see fantasy dismissed as a
> kind of poultice or, worse, as a drug. It's led to some godawful smug
> books (and some very good ones, I have to admit -- but a lot of
> dumb ones too)

I found Joy Chant's treatment of this in "Red Moon, Black Mountain," and
"The Grey Mane of Morning" to be much better than C. S. Lewis' famous
trip through the furniture. I liked Lewis when I was a kid, but have
come to be a bit disgusted with his philosophical shortcomings as
evidenced in things like the Perelandra Trilogy, where he attempted to
elevate his own theological cowardice into some kind of great spiritual
revelation.

-Rock
--
<rocky...@earthlink.net> http://home.earthlink.net/~rockyfrisco/
Visit my Mini-Cooper page at http://www.geocities.com/~rockyfrisco

Barry Vaughan

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Feb 22, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/22/97
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In article <ypFvBBAH...@unseen.demon.co.uk>, Terry Pratchett
<tprat...@unseen.demon.co.uk> writes

>In article <0Oq8TAA6...@samael.demon.co.uk>, Barry Vaughan
><Ba...@samael.demon.co.uk> writes
>>
>>So it is all meant to be real then? Is it all that simple?

<parody of 'Late Show' reviewer snipped>

>>
>I can't be having with that pernicious rubbish. 'Window' books, they
>are called: young Sid has big problems at home, so in his dreams he
>battles a dragon, and this gives him the strength to deal with the
>problems -- as if imagination and fantasy were some kind of medicines.
>Yo-less trots out this handy explanation in OYCSM.
>

That's not quite what I meant. I was thinking that the stories
could just have been in Johnny's mind and that the reader
could be left wondering, but in JatB it seemed that you
were trying to make it absolutely clear that it did happen.
If OYCSM was the most equivocal then it seemed that JatB
was unequivocal.

I was wondering if that was deliberate? A reaction to suggestions
that the earlier Johnny books were 'Window' books. Or is
it just the way the story worked out?

>There *are* natural explanations for a lot of the things that happen in
>the books, if you are desperate to find them (and people will sometimes
>go through some serious mental gymnastics to avoid changing their
>preconcieved ideas about the universe) But I like to be equivocal about
>what is 'real' and what isn't -- to Johnny it's all real, and that's
>what counts.

It's interesting to the number of people that won't watch
the X-files because they can't even suspend their disbelief
in the alien abduction stories long enough to watch a TV
programme. Personally I don't believe in Ghosts, Aliens
abducting redneck farmers or God(s), but I do like books
about them.

>So: is what happens in the books real? Yes. Does it all happen in
>Johnny's head? Yes. Are the Dead a metaphor? Yes. Are they real? Yes.

From the introduction to Neil Gaiman's 'A Game of You':
"In the world that we read as real, the the top floor
neighbour harbours a horde of crows in his rib cage;
the quiet girl upstairs ... is hundreds of years old;
the moon cares whether you have a 'y' chromosome...
this is a fantasy world too."

As I see it, everything that happens in the Johnny books
happens in a fantasy world, but I could never be sure
if Johnny lived in a fantasy or if the fantasy lived in him.

The Discworld is very clear, it is a fantasy world,
everything that happens is real to that world.

(By the way, I took the 'standard' route to the Sandman.
The No.1 from the Discworld to Preludes and Nocturnes via
'Good Omens', does Neil share his royalties with you?)

>Not just waving, but particalling.
>

It took me a couple of minutes to get that last joke. ;)
Mind you, I didn't see the Frank Spencer/Phantom of the Opera
connection 'til it was pointed out to me.

Barry.

-------------------------------------------------------------
Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves,
so thanks for nothing - Bart Simpson
-------------------------------------------------------------
Ba...@samael.demon.co.uk


Harvester

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Feb 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/24/97
to

Derek Lavin wrote:

> I'm not particularly fond of allegory, in any of it's forms. I
> remember reading Narnia and taking it all on face value; and then,
> later on, finding out all the hidden little odds and ends - for
> instance, some of you may know that Aslan was actually Jesus.

Anyone else find that reading books again that we read as children is
really dissappointing. I find The Narnia books are so self rightous
sometimes I don't want to read them to kids. I end up abridging whole
chapters and paragraphs. I actual censor the stories and I hate it.
Harv.
--
radio head | I want you to notice |
- creep | When I'm not around |

Colm Buckley

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Feb 25, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/25/97
to

> == Derek Lavin <sl...@zetnet.co.uk>

> I'm not particularly fond of allegory, in any of it's forms. I
> remember reading Narnia and taking it all on face value; and then,
> later on, finding out all the hidden little odds and ends - for
> instance, some of you may know that Aslan was actually Jesus.

Yeah... Douglas Gresham (relative of CSL, self-appointed Grand Master
of All Things Bright and Narnian) was on here a few months back being
extraordinarily self-righteous about the whole thing, and tying it all
into christian theology... it didn't do anything for my opinion of the
Narnia books. His thesis was that CSL wrote the books (TL,TW,ATW in
particular) not as an *allegory* for christianity, but rather as an
illustration of the fact that the god must have an incarnation in all
worlds - ie : Aslan does not *represent* Jesus, Aslan *is* Jesus, in
that world. This is hinted at (although never mentioned explicitly) a
couple of times in the series, in (IIRC) "Prince Caspian" or "Voyage of
the Dawn Treader" (where Aslan is informing some/all of the Pevensies
that they will not return to Narnia, and that they should instead "learn
his name" in their world), and again in "The Last Battle".

Spoils a good story, if you ask me.

Colm

--
Colm Buckley B.F. | EMail : Colm.B...@tcd.ie or co...@lspace.org
Computer Science | WWW : http://isg.cs.tcd.ie/cbuckley/
Trinity College | Phone : +353 87 469146 (087-469146 within Ireland)
Dublin 2, Ireland | "Microsoft : Where do you want to crash today?"


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