In the first half of the seventh chapter of Wizard’s Holiday, Dairine gains an ally to help her deal with her first full day with her exchange wizards. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
It struck me while reading this how difficult it would be to describe great portions of my life, my society, the cultures I belong to, and many other things to beings who were not from Earth. The culture shock I’ve had to deal with from my non-American friends who’ve come to visit me was challenging enough, but at least there was some common ground there, you know? Explaining rest stops made sense once you got to see how vast and far-reaching our highway system was. (This happened when a friend of mine visited me and we went on a road trip, for example.) Same with food; just because some things seemed radically different, I could at least find a way to make things make some sort of sense.
Duane is dealing with a culture shock that’s much more far-reaching than I have seen, and SHE DOES IT SO WELL. Most of what we see here is humorous, and it’s a great take on a phenomenon that is a challenge to write. Duane had to think of practically every little thing that might confuse these three aliens in order to write this believably! She starts with something innocuous but UNDERSTANDABLY WEIRD: snoring. Filif would have no concept of it! Then there’s a reference to Dairine’s house being “enclosed,” which is totally something they’d notice, too.
The main force in this chapter so far, though, is Carmela Rodriguez, queen of my heart, doer of all that is good in the universe. She’s an absolute sweetheart to Sker’ret and Filif, which is great all by itself. It’s easy to see how her time spent in front of her wizardry-enhanced television has made her a better person. She doesn’t judge these beings, and she doesn’t make them feel unwelcome, either. She’s open, joyous, and celebratory, and you know what? I think Dairine needed that. This has been a bit more stressful for her than she expected, and Carmela provides a necessary levity in these scenes.
That is never more true than when Carmela meets Roshaun. SWEET CATHARSIS, YOU ARE MY EVERYTHING. It makes complete sense to me that Carmela would see Roshaun, give him one look, and go, “…and?” Her disinterest in him is actually precisely the best technique. Roshaun probably loves the reactions he’s gotten from Dairine, and he’s left feeling confused. Carmela doesn’t respond to him as he’s used to. Let’s celebrate this exchange:
“We have not yet been formally introduced, in that I–“ Roshaun finally said, trying hard to sound chilly about it.
Dairine opened her mouth, but had no chance to say anything, for Carmela was once again looking Roshaun up and down, this time with the expression of someone who’d been asked a personal question by someone who should have been asking her “Paper or plastic?” “Formally introduced? I’ll let you know if and when I think we need to be.”
Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m a better person for having read that.
Anyway, I was also fascinated by the “disguises” that the wizards wore for their first outing on Earth. Giving them “human” appearances wasn’t enough, and I was so pleased that Duane addressed this. Both Filif and Sker’ret are not humanoid, which means that there are a whole new set of gestures, expressions, mannerisms, and physical challenges that they’ve got to keep in mind. I am worried about the whole “no touching” thing. Being in public is a daring thing all on its own, but guaranteeing no physical contact at all? AND IN A MALL? What if someone brushes too closely???
I don’t know. I’m anxious about this, but at the same time… I KIND OF WANT TO SEE WHAT WILL HAPPEN. I’m just all-around fascinated by this set-up. Filif is gonna learn about human “decorations,” which includes Christmas. (That’s gonna be a nightmare, isn’t it?) We’ve got Sker’ret excited to try ice cream for the first time. And then there’s Roshaun, who is enamored with Carmela, but not so enamored with the bus or Dairine. How is he going to react in a mall? He’ll be in an enclosed space full of people he most likely will assume are “beneath” him. Do other people do the “shopping” for him in his home world? Is this whole thing beneath him? Honestly, I know he’s the only humanoid here, but I desperately want to know what his life is like. This chapter contains the only reference from him about wizardry, so… are there other wizards there, too? Is he the lone wizard like Quelt is on Alaalu?
I CAN’T WAIT TO READ MORE.
I am thrilled to confirm that I will be a Guest at CrossingsCon 2017! Badges are now available, so COME HANG OUT WITH ME THIS SUMMER.
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