Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Never Ceese 3: Curses Foiled Again

(Yes, I punctuated the title correctly. Thanks for noticing.)

The big deal in Sue Dent's Never Ceese (outside of the two main characters truly figuring out who they are) is finding a way to break the curses they're under. Oddly, little is said about what the curses are. Someone who is cursed feels cut off from God: it's painful (but not impossible) even to refer to God or holiness. On the other hand, such people heal quickly and don't age, though they also can't reproduce.

Vampires have the added quirks of extreme sensitivity to the sun, which really burns them up, and getting mobbed by bloodsucking bats whenever they're low on plasma. (This is extra odd: it's like waiting until someone's driving on fumes to siphon his gas. But I suppose the vampire's weakness at such a moment makes him an easy target.) These bats are always around, apparently, which makes me think they live in the vampire's undies. On the other hand, vampires get to levitate and ignore mirrors (or vice versa).

Werewolves? Well, they get to Hulk out furry fashion. They also seem to have some kind of telepathy going.

Now the quirk here is that, this being a modern story, we have to have some kind of quasi-scientific mechanism for all this. Easily handled: there isn't one. Seriously: there is no way I can think of to ascribe all this to some quirk of physics. These are therefore spiritual phenomena, in this case the work of demonic forces, not natural ones.

One of the major modern assumptions implicitly held even by Christians is that everything has a physical explanation. Angels should show up on film, the Flood was a natural event of unusual proportions, and so on. But there's a catch: if there is no spiritual dimension to anything--none that makes any difference, anyway--then is there a spiritual dimension at all? This is the argument of modern atheists such as Dawkins and Harris: ultimately physics explains everything, so there is nothing for God to do or be.

Trying to find a physical explanation for vampires and werewolves likewise tends to minimize the spiritual aspect. Their "curse" could be a subconscious response to their purely physical ailment. Indeed, even the oddball effects such as levitation could be psionic ("psionic" being the catchall term for behavior pre-scientific people called "spiritual") and thus ultimately a matter of physics.

But if the curse is purely spiritual, how do people who are bitten (in the case of werewolves, they may be clawed) get the curse? And how can it have any effect on the modern wonder drug, stem cells?

Okay, M.A. in English at work, so don't bother with boots--get out the hip waders. In fact, go for a wet suit.

If I had to come up with a "mechanism" for the curse, I would note that demons can "haunt" or "possess" an item, such as an idol. So let's start with vampires, because they're easier. (And not just in the sense that they like to neck.) What if the vampire's blood (which represents life--Leviticus 17: 12–14) is itself cursed/possessed? If there is a certain amount of give and take in the bloodsucking (Never Ceese, p 249), then the victim picks up a cursed/possessed object in the process, along with a spirit hitchhiker. (Despite Richard's tendency to use small animals for blood, there are never any reports of vampire rodents. Figure that out.) We may also suggest that this curse somehow deforms the blood cells, which means that the token mad doctor may have found a meaningless anomaly in the affected stem cells.

So what about werewolves? Since they are only contagious in wolf form, I would suggest that the communicable cursed matter is the wolf form itself: if it enters your body through biting or clawing, it passes on the curse. To keep it simple, we'll assume that the target is the blood again, since it will normally be involved in a bite or clawing. The lycanthropic demon then tries to take up residence in the blood, which it curses as in the vampire.

The problem here is that it should be possible at least for a Christian to reject this either immediately or eventually. But that I'll leave as a problem for someone else.

Next time: some of my characters take a whack at the story.

Other participating blogs:
The Christian Fiction Review Blog
A Frank Review
Susan Kirkland
Melissa Meeks @ Bibliophile's Retreat
Geralyn Beauchamp @ The Time Mistress
Cathi Hassan @ Cathi's Chatter
Caprice Hokstad @ Queen of Convolution


Sue Dent said...

I'm so very happy my book gave you the opportunity to share your overall views of vampire and werewolf lore/fantasy as a whole--Ithink. LOL

To be sure there are many things that do and do not make logical or theological sense. But that's the fun of it for me, to try and make it believable. And well, except for you, *ah, there's always one fly in the punch* it seems I've done a fine job!

What? You didn't know about vampire bats and vampires? I'm surprised that got by you. :)

Frank Creed said...

Despite Richard's tendency to use small animals for blood, there are never any reports of vampire rodents. Figure that out.)

I don't know about theology or lore, but this practise is jut plain wrong! I think Ms Dent should have picked snakes or Pit Bulls and Dobermans to serve Richard's needs.

What does she have against Teddybear Hamsters and loving little ginger rats and potential Easter bunnies (a personal favorite of mine).

Does this character Richard have any morals? I mean, he's easy (reference blog post above) and he targets fluffy little bunnies.

Even Raskolnikov chose a victim of his own size and shape -- then felt bad about it for the rest of his days.


Sue Dent said...

*crossing arms in front of her and arching a brow* Frankus, did you read the book? Of course you did. Hmmmmm . . . snakes.

Hey, they've already got fangs!

What if Richard took care of that nasty rabbit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail? You know the one. :)

Steve said...

I thought Richard already got that one (and maybe Ceese as well). It would explain a lot.

Sue Dent said...

Go here for an explanation of the "killer" rabbit.

Killer Rabbit


I couldn't resist.

Powered by WebRing.