In Regards to Chapters 3 and 4 of
Walter Mosley's Blue Light
25 January 1999
Getting back to the subject of characters from our discussion of the first chapter, Mosley's characters, however flawed from lack of dimension, had the virtue of not being stock SF characters. On the other hand, of the various SF novels I have read, I can't recall any that suffered from the supposed stock characters - then again, perhaps it's that stock characters are not all that memorable; but then neither are most one dimensional characters and my memory is notoriously bad.
As for genre seepage: I'm not very impressed by this concept. Maybe its because I knew Star Wars was a western for almost as long as I knew Star Wars existed. And maybe it is because I just read an interesting article on C-Net.com that dealt with the issue of genre seepage in video games and felt their discussion had more novelty.
... and maybe because I've read many superiour blends of SF and Mystery. I would highly recommend Mike Resnik's Stalking the Unicorn as my favourite example, followed at a close distance by Douglas Adam's Dirk Gently books and by Spider Robinson's latest Callahan's books.
Vampires? Hmm... I don't really see them here. Oh, I suppose there are trace elements: metahumans who give the gift of their blood to recruit new members. But it's not an issue I want to explore. I'm a strong believe in calling a spade a spade; call a vampire a vampire or in my book (or copy of someone else's book] there is none - well he didn't, so there isn't. Period. End of story. He doesn't like it: Fuck him, he can go back and rewrite the book.
Planets living, universe speaking... maybe in reality, but not in the way he would have us believe. The whole taste blood and thereby gain knowledge deal totally didn't work for me... he'd have sold me quicker with old fashion telepathy.
I'll be the first to agree that Orde seemed to be a cult leader. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. There are many empty lives. People need their mythologies, and perhaps a mythology of the present is better suited than many a mythology of the past. I'd condemn a good many organized religions before I started condemning any particular cults. Instead condemn this hollow and stagnant society which offers us nothing.
So Orde lead a cult. It didn't seem to me as if he was trying to exploit his position. It seemed to me that he had a genuine concern about how this blue light had affected all of them and how their new breed might thrive on this world. Even if this were not so, how can you blame a king for leading a peasant who insists on following?
Don't ask me to explain it - maybe I forget because I read the beginning of the book too long ago - but for some reason Orde was my favourite character in the entire book, the only one I was able to envision myself ever becoming friends with. I was really annoyed when Mosley killed him, cult leader or not.
When the blood turned to worms, the only thing I really thought about was the scene in Lost Boys when the Chinese noodles pulled a similiar stunt before being eaten by the vampires... and I don't think that impression really dawned on me until after we as a class mentioned vampires to begin with.
And I found that scene problematic. Again, I just couldn't buy it. Maybe I know too much about biology and maybe I just don't have enough faith in miracles, but I couldn't accept such great biological chances within a biological organism because of blue light.
I would have been more ready to accept the blue light if all the direct changes it affected were merely spiritual and/or psychological and perhaps only indirectly (i.e. mind over matter] did it physically affect the carriers.
But in such a scenario, the problem of passing on the enlightenment would have been ludicrous. It would be like asking a guru to share his nirvana with a blood transfusion - maybe I eve would have bought that more.
The coyote was the source of yet more problems for me. Maybe it's the old question of "Does a dog have Buddha nature?" I don't know. I suppose the real problem is just that the coyote's importance seems to hinge on the acceptance of this blood communication which I could not accept.
There was also a problem with the way it was written. It was hard to tell at first reading whether this scene was actually happening or imagined because Chance was crazy. But then maybe that was intentional, especially in light of the ending, where we are left to wonder if Chance was indeed crazy.
Finally, as for Chance's metamorphosis, it was too subtle and downplayed. I didn't really feel any character development in him... a few words that told me he changed - but any pathetic writing student barely worth his salt can tell you a good writer shows not tells.