Sunday, March 24, 2024

The Imagination Chamber, by Philip Pullman

In addition to Philip Pullman's substantial fantasies, His Dark Materials (three volumes) and The Book of Dust (two volumes published, the third, at present, forthcoming), Pullman has published some short companion volumes to the series. These are small illustrated books--Lyra's Oxford, Once Upon a Time in the North, Serpentine, and The Collectors-- basically short stories published on their own. Now comes The Imagination Chamber: Cosmic Rays from Lyra's Universe, which is pure commercial product. The publisher claims that "this is a book like no other"--that much is true--and "it contains untold riches"--the emphasis should be on "untold" for nothing told here contains any riches.  Furthermore, the publisher boasts: "Every page will give you an exciting glimpse into Lyra's world. Every page will give you an astonishing insight into the storytelling mind of Philip Pullman."  Well, the book is 87 pages, but (with one exception in the short foreword) all left-hand pages are completely blank, and the right-hand pages have usually one small paragraph of text (at most four paragraphs) that seem to be passages pulled out of Pullman's various drafts of the manuscripts of the books he has already published. The text is unburdened by illustrations. Very disappointing overall, and the only insight I found is to wonder why Pullman should have seen fit to publish such a blatant rip-off of his readers. Haven't his other books sold enough copies? Is he really in need of more money?

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