Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Delicious Harry Dresden

There are many iconic characters in the canon of Science Fiction; Decker from Blade Runner, Paul Atredies from Dune, Captain Kirk, Luke Skywalker, Conan the Barbarian, Buck Rogers, Miles Vorkosigan, Wonder Woman and even Sookie Stackhouse, psychic barmaid from Charlaine Harris' fabulous "Dead" series.
Yet few icons have been as three dimensional, realistic and beautifully written as Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden, the gumshoe wizard from Chicago Illinois. Though the Dresden Files TV series was short-lived, it only proved to the legion of Dresden fans that their battered, wise-cracking hero was indeed the stuff of legends and that Jim Butcher should have a place reserved for him in the Science Fiction authors Hall of Fame at the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle.

"There's power in the night. There's terror in the darkness. Despite all our accumulated history, learning, and experience, we remember. We remember times when we were too small to reach the light switch on the wall and when the darkness itself was enough to make us cry out in fear."

"My third eye showed me Chicago in its true shape, and for a second I thought I'd been teleported to Las Vegas. Energy ran through the streets, the buildings, the people, appearing to me as slender filaments of light that ran this way and that, plunging into solid objects and out the other side without interruption. The energies coursing through the grand old buildings has a sold and unmoving stability about them, as did the city streets, but the rest of it, the randon energies generated by the thoughts and emotions of eight million people, was completely unplanned and coursed everywhere in haphazard, garish color. Clouds of emotion were interspersed with the flickering campfire sparks of ideas. Heavy flowing streams of deep thought rolled slowly beneath blazing, dancing gems of joy. The muck of negative emotions clung to surfaces, staining them darker, while fragile bubbles of dreams floated blissfully toward kaleidoscope stars."

Who can read such glorious graphs and still think that genre writers are somehow less adept at prose than literary fiction authors? Butcher treats us to his Hemingway-crossed-with-Fitzgerald-and-a-sprinkling-of-Steinbeck prose style throughout "Turn Coat" the 11th novel in the Dresden Files series. This time Harry is caught up in a race to prove Warden Morgan, one of his tormentors, innocent before the White Council Wizards catch up to Morgan and behead him for murdering one of their own. Harry's apprentice Molly, his vampire brother Thomas, the local werewolves and the pizza-loving pixies are also on hand to help Harry track the killer and solve the case, as well as find the real traitor on the White Council.
We are treated to a trial at wizard HQ in Edinburgh, Scotland, a party and fight at a pleasure emporium for the rich called Zero, and a battle with a 'shagnasty' skinwalker on a sentient Island called Demonreach.
As usual, Harry gets busted up pretty bad and barely makes it through the various crisis alive, and those who come to his aid often die in the process, but justice is served, the good guys win the day, and, though he breaks up with Luccio, Harry and Murphy have a tender moment before one big battle.
"Then she kissed my forehead and mouth, neither quickly nor with passion. Then she let me go and looked up at me, her eyes worried and calm. "You know that I love you, Harry. You're a good man. A good friend."
I gave her a lopsided grin. "Don't go all gushy on me, Murph."
She shook her head. "I'm serious. Don't get yourself killed. Kick whosoever ass you need to in order to make that happen." She looked down. "My world would be a scarier place without you in it."
"I chewed my lip for a second. Then I said, "I'd rather have you covering my back that anyone in the world, Karrin. I cleared my throat. "You might be the best friend I've ever had."
She blinked several times and shook her head. "Okay, this is going somewhere awkward."
"Maybe we should take it from "whatsoever ass" I suggested.
She nodded. "Find him. Kick his ass."
"That is the plan. I confirmed. Then I bent down and kissed her forehead and mouth, gently and leaned my forehead against hers. "Love you too," I whispered."

You just have to love that guy, he's so tough and so vulnerable and such a smart ass, all at the same time. He's the delicious Harry Dresden, and I love him, too.
Don't miss this latest in the series, as it's got all the action, adventure and twists fans have come to expect from the Dresden Files, with the added fun of great moments like the one above, and some truly insightful thinking and ruminating on the part of Chicago's favorite wizard.

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