Back to School

I am on my lunch break at the Math Faculty Computing Facility at the University of Waterloo. Today is the first day of my temp assignment with Prior Resource Group. It’s been the usual first-day scramble of setting up codes, passwords and equipment, but the people here are friendly and welcoming, and the assignment looks promising.

I’m also told that the position that I’m temporarily replacing will be advertised in the coming weeks. I’ll have to keep my eye out for this.

I’ve just finished Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass. It’s a brilliant novel, but I’ll have a lot more to say about it once I finish the remaining two of the trilogy. A lot more. However, one particular idea intrigues me.

The key to The Golden Compass is that every human in Lyra’s universe possess “daemons”, intelligent animals that are permanently bonded to their humans by an invisible, psychic force. These daemons shift form until puberty, before deciding upon one animal and sticking to it.

This is a unique feature of Lyra’s universe. When Will enters Lyra’s universe, he has no daemon (and the locals consider that to be the equivalent of having no head). Over time, however, he gets one. All humans who enter Lyra’s universe get one. I’m told that Phillip does not go into detail over exactly how one appears, so I’m left to wonder if you go to sleep one night and wake up next morning with, say, an Osprey nibbling at your hair. Talk about a surprise!

And how would adults from outside Lyra’s universe react to their deamons? I’m pretty sure the instinct would be to compare them. I can just see two people, a short, thin man and a tall, muscular fellow. The short man has a bald eagle, the tall man has a mouse.

Shortie (smiles at the big man with the small mouse)
Burly: (surly) What are you looking at?
Shortie: Do I detect a little… daemon envy?
Burly: It’s not the size that counts, you know.
Shortie: No. I’m sure it’s how well they fit (chuckles)

Daemons, of course, fight alongside their humans, which alters the course of battle accordingly.

Burly: Why you snug little—
Shortie’s Bald Eagle Daemon: (snatches mouse into its beak)
Burly: (choking) I give!!

What an interesting universe Phillip has created for us. I wish we saw more of it.

Erin and I are off on a flying weekend visit to my sister-in-law in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Erin’s mother will be there on a flying visit of her own, so we decided to flock together. We’ll be back Sunday, but I might be able to post tomorrow.

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