- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books (Aug. 1 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312873980
- ISBN-13: 978-0312873981
- Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.5 x 24.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 748 g
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,179,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Spirits in the Wires Hardcover – Aug 1 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Canadian author De Lint follows up 2001's triumphant The Onion Girl with another fine novel dually based in the fictitious city of Newford and a magical otherworld, where spirits of faerie and folklore occupy modern technology and cyberspace is a fantasy realm in which imagination fuels artificial intelligence. When a virus crashes Wordwood, a Web site existing in an "impossible limbo in between computers," a lot of people disappear, including Saskia Madding, girlfriend of perennial Newfordian character Christy Riddell. Saskia literally sprang full-grown from a computer and was already suffering an identity crisis when sucked into oblivion. She escapes by taking up residence in the same body as Christiana Tree. The heroic Christiana, Christy's "shadow," must restore Saskia to her own body, sort out what happened to Wordwood, and figure out what can be done to save it and the rest of the spirit world from chaos. Meanwhile, Christy and a band of companions leave consensual reality and enter the Internet spirit world, seeking to save Wordwood and those who have gone missing. De Lint makes the binary tangible and handles his concept of technological voodoo with intelligence, verve and wit while introducing fascinating new characters and expanding on old ones. Not surprisingly, everyone eventually discovers that it doesn't matter where we come from but who we are that counts-but their journeys to that conclusion will please previous fans and find new ones for this master of the modern fantastic.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
With great enthusiasm, de Lint spins another tale of Newford, a twenty-first-century city that has access--sometimes very disturbing access--to what lies beyond the lands we know. The story is told by several narrators, including Saskia, who isn't sure where she came from but thinks she was born in a Web site, and Christiana Tree. Those two are linked to writer and Newport resident Christy Riddell, who has appeared in previous Newford books. Indeed, Christiana is Christy's shadow self, made up of personality traits he discarded at age seven. A strange crash occurs on the popular research site Wordwood, and everyone visiting the site at that moment disappears from in front of their screens. Christy and his comrades must then enter Newford's otherworld, in which Wordwood is physical, to rescue their friends and defeat the culpable virus. De Lint explores the notion that erstwhile spirits of forests and fields now inhabit the cables and other links of modern technology without slighting his customary superb characterization and plot development skills. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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When a virus disrupts the Wordwood site and a whole lot of people disappear into virtual reality, a disparate group of magic users and mundanes must use whatever means they can come up with to go to the rescue. Christy Riddell is one of the central characters, as his partner Saskia is one of the ones who has disappeared. We also get to see Holly Rue, Robert Lonnie, Geordie and a supporting cast of Newford's literary citizens (as opposed to Newford's painting citizens) as well as the usual faeries, sprites and elemental spirits.
And that's what kind of bothered me about this book. We had the usual suspects doing the usual things in pretty much the usual way; only the setting was somewhat altered, and that not by much. I think the question of spirits in cyberspace, so much a part of a lot of cyberpunk fiction, is a really interesting one. But I didn't find it addressed here in any interesting way. Rather, the idea seemed taken for granted and from there the novel read like a Michael Crichton action piece, with lots of fireworks and explosions, told from so many points of view that it was hard to care about any of them.
I'm also disappointed that DeLint's books seem to have lost the edginess that grabbed me in many of his earlier works. There aren't any great villains here, so the conflict is a little pale. There isn't any real sense of danger. Although the characters constantly must remember that "The otherworld is dangerous place," we don't see any real danger. Nothing really bad happens to anyone. It's all a walk in the park and the ending no surprise. We're told anything can happen, but it rings false. In reality "anything" CAN'T happen, because the heroes always come through safe and sound with very few scars. Call me bloodthirsty, but I think at this point DeLint's work could benefit from killing someone dead -- someone major.
This is another book that will probably be lost on anyone who hasn't read several of DeLint's short story collections. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone new to this writer or this genre. Although it's always interesting to see what's going on in Newford with these characters, I considered this one of their less thrilling adventures. Get it out of the library or wait for paper.
When his girlfriend is one of those sucked in, Christy Riddell resolves to go after her--even if it means entering into the spirit world. Of course he's never actually been in the spirit world and isn't even sure he believes in it, but he's willing to do whatever it takes to save her. Gathering a group of friends and questionable allies, he sets off. But things have gone downhill in wordwood and its problems are starting to spread even more widely. If he and his band don't succeed, the problems may become a lot more serious than just a few missing persons.
Author Charles de Lint brings new life to the concept of merging the computer and fantasy world. The fairy people aren't all involved with computers, but many shadows are given strength by people's belief in them and lots of people believe what computers tell them. de Lint's writing is lyrical, engaging the reader and giving the story a tang of its own. The power of this novel comes not from the conclusions, although there are some charming twists there as well, but from the progression through adventure, from de Lint's descriptions and concepts, and from the way he paints his story rather than simply telling it.
SPIRITS IN THE WIRES takes a fairly standard concept and really breaths light into it. de Lint fans will be happy to see many familiar characters return, as well as enjoy meeting some of the new characters and concepts that de Lint brings to the light. It's a charming story. Well done.
I'd recommend de Lint's "Trader", "Yarrow", or "Jack of Kinrowan" over this book. None of the three feature the Internet as a main player, but they are better examples of the urban fantasy for which de Lint is famous.
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