On the His Dark Materials series

I Gotta Get Me One of Those

By Karen Traviss

Location: a pub, somewhere in the city.

“Is that your d¦mon?”

“Yeah. He’s a registered pit-bull, but he’s great with the kids.”

“What’s his name, then?”

“Tyson.”

“Don’t you find him a bit . . . embarrassing?”

“No. Why?”

“Well, not many hairdressers have pit-bulls for d¦mons. . . .”

Every writer needs a Bloody Good Idea.

You can tell the difference between a Bloody Good Idea (BGI) and a McGuffin because the BGI is often the one facet that you still recall and savor years after you’ve forgotten the rest of the story. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the story isn’t as big as the idea, of course, or that the story is lacking, or that the BGI isn’t integral to the plot. It might just be that the idea is just so Bloody Good that it can stand on its own, apart from the book, and–more importantly–that it grips the imagination of the reader.

Pullman’s d¦mons fall into that category.

Ask most non-academic readers what aspect of the His Dark Materials trilogy springs to mind, and they’ll say d¦mons. We’ve all thought it: what would our own d¦mon be like? In the office where I used to work, a colleague confessed to spending her daily train journey ascribing different d¦mons to fellow passengers. If d¦mons had been available by mail order, she’d have bought one for herself there and then. D¦mons are more than a good fiction device: they answer a  …

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