Mark Reads ‘High Wizardry’: Chapter 9

In the ninth chapter of High Wizardry, I have yet again reached a point where I don’t know how I would ever describe this sequence to a total stranger. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards. 

This series is truly going to be an experience for me, isn’t it?

How? How do you begin to even conceive of a character visiting a silicon planet, plugging their computer into it, causing the planet to freak out, and then offering themselves as a conduit so that said silicon planet can EXPERIENCE SOMETHING OTHER THAN ITSELF FOR THE FIRST TIME? I don’t even know, y’all. And it’s just so rare (at least in my reading/watching experience) to see science fiction that tackles silicon lifeforms! I admit that this made this section a bit challenging to read because it’s been YEARS since I last took a class relating to biology or chemistry, so some of the science went right over my head.

But that’s okay because it didn’t distract from the story itself. I understood what was happening even if some of the details escaped me. THe planet was alive, possibly roiling with a monocellular organism embedded into the surface of the earth. Thus, that’s why Dairine’s computer nearly burst once it was connected to a local source of power. Up to that point, it was highly likely that these life forms had NEVER INTERACTED WITH ANYTHING EVER. Ever! And then a computer connects to it, and it’s got information of galaxies and universes and species and cultures and art forms and the entirety of wizardry, and it’s just too much for this silicon planet to handle.

And I can’t ignore how adorable that very concept is. The planet is overjoyed to just talk with something, even if it’s just basic binary or in series. Yet I didn’t realize just how much joy the planet felt until Dairine offered herself up to it. Dairine gave up her body so that the planet could have senses. CAN WE JUST REMIND OURSELVES WHAT A HUGE THING THIS IS. She gave a planet FEELINGS.

Joy, it was simply joy, joy at discovering meaning: joy so intense that all Dairine’s muscles jumped in reaction to it, breaking her out of the connection and flinging her face down on the glazed ground.

This makes perfect sense to me. I get it, and I felt a wave of happiness wash over me when I read it. But how the hell could you possibly explain this without context? I love that Duane’s books reward you for the journey by including things that are strange and ethereal and otherworldly, yet they still fit perfectly within the story. It’s beautiful, simply put, and while I have no idea where this is leading and why this planet is part of her Ordeal, I’m thankful that she ended up there.

At the same time… what’s going to happen once the planet knows everything the computer does? We get a preview of that here, and I sensed from the computer’s reaction to Dairine’s request that it was probably a bad, bad idea. Yet there’s that moment of calm where Dairine watches the sun rise, and it’s so awesome, and I was tricked into thinking everything was fine until:

And then the crust cracked upward in jagged pieces, and the something underneath pushed through and up and out.

As far as I can tell, the silicon earth gives “birth” to… a computer. With fourteen legs. A computer. A COMPUTER. In a way, that makes a lot of sense! The planet interacted with a machine made of a lot of silicon, so it probably tried to emulate it. But that doesn’t make the sight of this thing any less difficult to cope with. Y’all, Dairine literally is all, “I’M OUT, PEACE, GONNA SLEEP THE SHOCK AWAY.” I don’t blame her! Her day has been so ridiculous that the word “ridiculous” doesn’t even fit anymore. It’s beyond absurd. And unfortunately, this is just the start: the Lone Power snuffs out most of the sun over the silicon planet.


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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I am now on Patreon! There are various levels of support, from $1 up to whatever you want! You’ll get to read a private blog, extra reviews, and other such rewards.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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