Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wolves of The Island

"[The] story has left me in a strangely disturbed frame of mind. I can't tell if it answers more questions than it raises, or the other way around." Wolves of the Calla p. 612

Book 5 of Stephen King's Dark Tower series, Wolves of the Calla was probably the least LOST-like book so far in the series. It's a way station of sorts on the way to the Tower. A pregnancy project if you will. As Eddie realizes:

Even though their main goal is the Tower, they aren't exempt from participation in other "quests." . . . and had Eddie really thought there was no work left for the line of Arthur Eld in this mostly empty and husked-out world? That they would simply be allowed to toddle along the Path of the Beam until they got to Roland's Dark Tower and fixed whatever was wrong there? p. 144

But there are some large thematic things happening in Wolves that remind me of LOST and make me wonder if they are clues as to what's going on on our favorite Island.

The Nature of Time

The very nature of time itself, a commodity that has been slipping throughout the Dark Tower saga is very present in this book.

Time is a face on the water. . . . The saying might have been true when Roland had been a boy not much older than Jake Chambers, but Eddie thought it was even truer now, as the world wound down like the mainspring in an ancient watch. Roland had told them that even such basic things as the points of the compass could no longer be trusted in Mid-World; what was dead west today might be southwest tomorrow, crazy as that might seem. And time had likewise begun to soften. There were days Eddie could have sworn were forty hours long, some of them followed by nights (like the one on which Roland had taken them to Mejis) that seemed even longer. Then there would come an afternoon when it seemed you could almost see darkness bloom as night rushed over the horizon to meet you. Eddie wondered if time had gotten lost. pp. 45-46

It reminds me of the crazy way time seemed to act in Season 2 and also in Season 4 with Daniel Faraday's arrival. It was inconsistent. All of a sudden it was dark. It seemed like days on the Island before Sayid tried to call from the boat. The doc arrived before he was killed. Maybe time is running down on the Island too. Or it runs at different rates depending on external events as Eddie thinks. "When a lot of interesting shit was happening, time seemed to go by fast. If you got stuck with nothing but the usual boring shit, it slowed down. And when everything stopped happening, time apparently quit altogether." p. 48

And time is not the only thing that's blurry. Eddie remarks, "The people are real. . . . But the way stuff from my world keeps showing up over here, that's not real. It's not sensible or logical, either, but that's not what I mean. It's just not real. p. 215 It makes me think of the Nigerian drug plane in particular. I still can't wait to find out how that got on the Island.

Even another character the main ka-tet meets along the way has experienced this time problem. Callahan says "For months--sometimes even years, as I tried to explain to you--time hardly seems to exist. Then everything comes in a gasp." p. 403 This reminds me of what's happened on Island since 815 crashed. Since the Purge the Others carried on in their day to day Land's End life in New Otherton and now "bam" the last 100 days have been insane. Same for Desmond. For 3 years all he did was push a button and now everything is coming in a gasp.

And we finally get a hint at what's going on with time when Roland, Eddie and Jake visit the Rose in New York. Eddie . . . saw the Tower itself in the burning folds of the rose and for a moment understood its purpose: how it distributed its lines of force to all the worlds that were and held them steady in time's great helix. . . . for every hand stayed from violence, there was the Tower. And the quiet, singing voice of the rose. "There are two hubs of existence," [Roland said] The Tower . . . and the rose." pp. 250-51 Is the Island also one of these hubs?

Travel Through Time and Space

Another big component of Wolves is the traveling the ka-tet does away from the Calla to 1977 New York. They manage this travel in two different ways. This first is by going "todash" which is a kind of very real dream. When it occurs, they pass between two worlds, the World they were sleeping in and the world of 1977 New York. And as they were "todashed" to New York only the barest bit of them remained in the other world. Could this explain Jacob? While Jake and Eddie were todash they flickerd on and off.

What's more we meet a group of people, the Manni-folk who regularly engage in this sort of travel. The "elder Manni seek the other worlds[.] Not for treasure but for enlightenment[.] [Roland] also knew that some had come back from their travels insane. Others never come back at all. These hills are magnetic, and riddled with many ways into many worlds."  p. 533 I want to know if this is the sort of task that Richard wants to get his people back to.

There's even more time travel through alternate worlds in Callahan's story. While living in "our" world he often encountered "highways in hiding" that led to alternate Americas with different Presidents, different currencies and different town names.

And then there's a final form of travel and that's through a door, a door like those in Book 2 The Drawing of the Three, but to get through these doors you need a glass, Black 13 which was first introduced in Wizard and Glass. Using Black 13, the ka-tet and Callahan are able to direct their travels back to 1977 though there does seem to be rules.

Eddie believes that they can't go back in time via the door or todash to a point in 1977 New York they've already visited. If they were right about the rules, he couldn't go back to that day, not todash, not in the flesh either. If they were right, time over there was somehow hooked to time over here, only running a little faster. If they were right about the rules . . . if there were rules . . . p. 664

And as far as we can tell those rules do indeed hold, though they never really attempt to break them by going back to a day in New York they think has already past.

Can You Affect Time

But despite these forms of time travel, there are problems. For example, Black 13 tries to mess with you. It tempts you to in fact go back and do things differently.

Black 13 tempts you into going back and change things making you believe you will make them all better. Callahan says "I believe it lures people on to acts of terrible evil by whispering to them that they will do good. That they'll make things not just a little better but all better." p. 608

And these ideas continue to play out in the concept of ka and when you should meddle with it. For example, Roland tells Jake this advice from Roland's dad. "[W]hen you are unsure, you must let ka alone to work itself out." p. 508 Jake says this sounds like passing the buck. Roland emphasized again the "when one isn't sure about ka, it's best to let ka work itself out. If one medles, one almost always does the wrong thing." pp. 509-10 Sounds a lot like a Locke/Jack confrontation, though Locke is much more passive than Roland.

This is something I worry about with the O6 going back to the Island. The ka-tet discusses going back to prevent the Kennedy assassination and the fact that might have led to a worse person or people than Lee Harvey Oswald working to course correct. It makes me wonder if Desmond saving Charlie made things worse. And will Jack and the O6's return in the face of the "bad things" that happened when they left result in good things or just another form of bad things?

General References

Finally, a list of basic similarities.

There are magic numbers in the book. Nineteen appears over and over in the tree branches, in the clouds, in the number of petals of the rose and the number of letters in peoples' names. Also 99 and combinations like 1999. They also add other numbers up to 19 like the most rabid of LOST fans.

Susannah compares their experience with crossovers between worlds as a Dickens novel.   

There's a reference to the Red Sox winning the Series. They had not at the time.

There are several businesses that show up in all worlds, LeMark Industries, Sombra Corp., North Central Positronics. It reminds me of the everpresent Widmore.

There's a message on a loop.

There's a reference to George and Lennie from Of Mice and Men.

When the Low Men finally catch Callahan, they do it at an office building. Callahan remarks that most of the people there seem to be "extras," "stage-dressing," "a set-up . . . as elaborate as a Hollywood movie."

Callahan dies by falling out a window -- 32, not 8 stories.

Callahan crossed with Roland and Jake all the way back in Book 1 much like Jack crossed with Shannon at her father's death.

Susannah sneaks off from the group at night. This reminds me of Claire getting up and wandering off with Christian in the middle of the night.

The Jafford's special child is named Aaron.  

Twins are the focus of the Calla story.  And I'm still waiting for Bad Twin to be relevant.

In the Cave of the Voices/Doorway Cave you hear voices of people from your past. "The voices are coming from your own head. The cave finds them and amplifies them somehow. Sends them on. It's a little upsetting, I know, but it's meaningless." p. 662 This is a lot like Sawyer's encounter with the boar in particular and sometimes the Whispers.

Eddie refers to himself as being exiled from New York, yet he can return through todash and the door. Will that be true for Ben too?

The technology left behind by the "Old People" is technology of our world, of 20th century America. Reminds me of DIs left behind tech and that left behind by the 4-toes.

Jake finds a monitoring station full of TV screens fed by hidden cameras a la The Pearl, The Flame and The Hydra.

Andy the robot is tired of being dissed. Reminds me of Roger Workman and later Ben Workman.

And finally, we are briefly introduced to the Breakers who are telepaths and psychokinetics, i.e. "special."

So my quest for the Tower continues on. I'm going to have to add Salem's Lot to the reading list now. The general plan is to read Book 6 before the start of Season 5. Then read Insomnia and Book 7 before the start of Season 6. Until then, remember the face of your father.


Lost 2010 said...

Hurry up and finish this series. I really really want to discuss the last one with you.

Good point about Claire wandering off in the night. Was Susannah's song before or after this one? I think my points on that came from SS so I deleted them.

As for this particular book:

If we see Roland and Jack as similar characters - a hero that is really hard to like. One who makes the "hard" decisions with the goal in mind (reaching the tower) (getting them off the island) rather than the relationships in mind - (letting Jake fall) (letting Sawyer jump).

The Wolves of Calla lets us see Roland in his element - doing what he was born to do - what he was trained to do. In this book more than in any of the others, Roland IS a gunslinger - and he's d@#$ good at it.

In the Pilot, Jack IS the hero doctor. And he's d@#$ good at it.

But there's this whole other side to both characters where they aren't heroes. And they're both struggling throughout their respective journeys with whether the people or the purpose is more important. . .(and that's where I'll stop on that point since you're at WOC)

I can definitely see Ben as Andy the Robot.

This is the crescendo. Like the Season 3 finale. . . for the Dark Tower Series you're sitting at that pinnacle - on the hilltop near the (radio) tower - having just achieved a victory and ready to follow Roland/Jack anywhere he wants to take you. And even those who doubt him from time to time (Sawyer/Eddie) have no doubt that he'll lead them to the goal if they decide to follow. Because he's a hero with the goal in mind - -and he'll do whatever it takes to achieve it.

But will he reach the Tower - - what's in the Tower - -

HURRY UP and find out - there's more I want to say. . . LOL

Lost 2010 said...

forgot to mark e-mail

memphish said...

I like your Roland/Jack comparisons Lost2010. I think Jack needs a little Rosalita time to help him unwind.

I also like the radio tower comparison. Of course Susannah/Mia going through the door is creating a distraction from the Tower. While I like her more than I like Kate or Juliet, I'd still say let's leave her and move on.

Capcom said...

Interesting stuff. :-)

Lost 2010 said...

I didn't care for Susannah's Song much (I think that one's after Wolves of Calla). It got a little toooo wierd for me. (Why am I reading sci fi if I don't like wierd huh?)

I read these as they came out, and there was this excrutiating wait between them - - years would go by and you'd end up having to re-read the previous one to catch yourself up by the time they got to the next one. I felt like I'd been on the journey nearly as long as Roland by the time I finished the last one. LOL

memphish said...

You aren't alone on Book 6 Lost2010. Melissa Lossa was telling me it takes a while to get through and the Book 7 flies.

I don't know how I manage to miss serialized book fads as they are happening, but fortunately for me I have. I'm glad I don't have to wait between episodes, especially that wait between Books 4 and 5.

Lost 2010 said...

I started with the Wastelands (3?)right after it came out and went back and picked up the first two - - then I had to wait forever for the next one. :)

Blaine the Mono hooked me.

I wasn't a big fan of Wizard and Glass either - the idea that he let the love of his life get burned to death while pregnant with his child was a bit much for me - had a hard time liking Roland after that. Surely even Jack won't sink that low (let's hope).

The last one is awesome though - lots of good tongue in cheek humor scattered throughout - and all the little tie-ins are brought together - curious to see what you think of the ending. ..