In the first half of the eleventh chapter of High Wizardry, Dairine sets out to create the ideal set of allies WHO ALL LOOK LIKE TURTLES. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
Some of the science in this chapter escapes me, but that’s okay. I don’t think it overwhelms me to the point that I don’t actually know what’s going on. The story is actually quite simple as it stands: Dairine knows it’s only a matter of time before she has to move on, but she has a responsibility to these creatures. If the Lone Power is on her tail, then she can’t leave them defenseless, easy victims. At the same time, here are creatures who could provide her help in the battle to come.
And let’s also acknowledge how brilliant this young woman is. All of her years of studying and obsessively learning things are paying off, because at Dairine’s age, I could not have pulled off the same thing she does. If you’d given me silicon turtles then, I would have made them all into puppies or something. Dairine, however, is thinking on another level, y’all. After examining Gigo and naming it, she realizes that she can improve these silicon creatures. It’s not just a matter of making them into what she wants, though. Duane takes us through the painstaking and detailed process of examination and then, creation.
The examination is unbearably cute, first of all. Their rudimentary design is tolerable for what they need to do, which is explore and sense the world they live in for the first time. But Dairine sees them as a canvas of sorts, using the computer’s utility program to turn them into utilitarian beings who will be more adept at living, sensing, and experiencing. But that’s not enough, though. As Diarine puts it:
The newly awakened intelligence had made all its mobiles alike: probably because it didn’t understand the concept of otherness yet. Dairine would start making them different from one another. But they were going to have to be different on the inside, too, to do any good. If some danger comes along that they have to cope with, it’s no use their information processors being all the same: whatever it is could wipe them all out at once. If they’re as different as they can be, they’ll have a better chance of surviving.
Here’s what is so striking to me about this: Dairine could just create an unthinking army for herself. She could turn these silicon turtles into a veritable army to fight against the Lone Power. But Dairine thinks of an existence long after she’s gone, one where these creatures are independent and members of community and must survive on their own. That is something that makes her special. I’d theorize that it’s one of the “raw materials” that Picchu referenced when talking about defeating the Lone Power. Dairine’s got it, and she’s perfect for this specific Ordeal. Who else would have given these creatures a greater emotional depth? Who else would have thought to create different models so that the creatures could manage any number of obstacles they faced? Dairine’s creativity and empathy is an integral part of this entire part of the book.
AND I LOVE IT A LOT. Compare that with what happens after all of this: the sun twists out of shape due to a MICRO BLACK HOLE. Now, that is shown to be a coincidental natural phenomenon, but after what we saw the Lone Power do in the previous chapter, I’m willing to bet that It is close. I thought about the Lone Power while reading about the Lone Power. So, let’s contrast: Dairine creates life, is responsible for what she creates, and tries to put aside any selfishness while doing so. The Lone Power destroys, corrupts, manipulates. There’s no accountability, no responsibility, no caring in the Lone Power.
There’s a huge confrontation coming up, and I’m becoming more and more aware that Dairine is the prefect fit to change the mind of the Lone Power.
Diane Duane is still offering a massive discount on the first 9 books in the Young Wizards series just to this community, so please take advantage of this deal while you still can:
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