The stress of their dependancy…

A quick follow-on about Charles de Lint. The first story set in de Lint’s fictional city of Newford, “Timeskip”, appeared in 1989. The first Newford novel, Memory and Dream, appeared in 1994, and there have now been four collections of short stories and eight (I think) major novels set in that city. The cast that started with Jilly Coppercorn and Christy Riddell has grown and grown, till it’s now a large ensemble of friends, musicians, artists, figures from myth and so on. It seems to me that this cast can be as much a burden as a gift. There’s so many of them, with so much history, that they begin to weigh down the story that’s being told. Could it be time to start fresh?

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  1. Actually, I’d say “Uncle Dobbin’s Parrot Fair” from 1987 is the first Newford story, though it’s not *set* in Newford — it does involve Christie Riddell, though, so I think it counts. You may have a point about the weight of history in his books, though in general he’s good about introducing new major characters (with Onion Girl and Widdershins being big exceptions).

  2. I loved “Uncle Dobbin’s Parrot Fair”. He is good about introducing major new characters, but he also almost seems to have an obligation about making sure most, if not all, of the others get a walk-on: something you see in both Onion Girl and Widdershins.

    Probably, though, I think his two great sins, as a writer, remain reducing characters to mouthpieces and a tendency to cuteness. If he could find other, character appropriate, ways for his characters to express the same or similiar views, it would be fine. But as it is, they do seem like mouthpieces. The cuteness, which is mostly in short stories, is a whole other problem.

  3. Yeah, I think you’re right about those failings. “Someplace to Be Flying” and “Trader” were the last novels of his I really loved, but I’m hopeful about Widdershins. From the little bit I’ve read, it looked like he was setting up an all-out race war between the European and Native American fairies, and that seems very promising.

    His “Triskell Tales 2” has a couple of very good stories in it, along with some slight fluffy ones (but they’re Christmas stories, so slight and fluffy is okay).

  4. I think that his tendency to cuteness is more pronounced in his short fiction, which tends to be less substantial than his novels, while his preachiness is amplified in the novels. He’d probably do better to avoid his repertory cast in the stories altogether, and to keep them in the background of the novels. I think there’s only so much Jilly etc we need.

    In terms of Widdershins – it is pretty good, though not great. The preachiness is pronounced.

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