Mon
Dec 19 2011 11:30am
A Read of the Dark Tower: Constant Reader Tackles The Waste Lands, “Argument” and “Jake: Fear in a Handful of Dust”—Bear and Bone, Sections 6-14

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,

And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,

And the dry stone no sound of water.

— From T.S. Eliot’s “The Wastelands”

Welcome to A Read of the Dark Tower series. Join me each week as I, Constant Reader, tackle the magnum opus of Stephen King’s career for the first time. If you want to discuss in general terms or talk about these first sections, join me by commenting here.

We last left Eddie swinging atop a pine tree, being violently shaken by a 70-foot-tall Demon Bear with something atop his head. Roland is sprinting to the rescue with Susannah perched on his shoulders, holding a gun. This week, we continue with the next sections of the first big division of The Waste Lands, called “Jake: Fear in a Handful of Dust” — Bear and Bone.

The Waste Lands — “Jake: Fear in a Handful of Dust”: Bear and Bone, Section 6

Finally, Roland and Susannah have arrived at the camp. Demon Bear is so huge, Susannah can only see parts of him through the branches of the trees. She freaks and asks Roland what to do.

Ro is having a mental meltdown — like there are two men inside his head, each with his own memories. This condition is getting worse, although this is the first we’ve heard of it. Eventually, he pulls it together long enough to shout that Demon Bear is “one of the Twelve. One of the Guardians.” Then he goes off in a mental tug-of-war about whether the boy Jake ever really existed. Apparently, Roland says he does and his alter-ego, whom we’ll call Rodetta, says he didn’t.

Finally, Ro tells Susannah to shoot the Demon Bear in the thing on its head that looks like a “little steel hat.”

Susannah thinks this is not a good idea and wants Roland to do it, but he tells her this is her true test, and she better pass it. So she raises the revolver and fires twice, hitting the bear in the butt.

Demon Bear, not liking this development, charges at Roland and Susannah, as Ro knew it would, giving Susannah a good shot at its steel cap.

What Constant Reader Learns: The bear, we’re told is “screaming like a distraught woman.” Sexist much? *screams like an annoyed woman*

Strangely (to me at least), Susannah is yelling, “It’s goan shake him loose!” at Roland — that’s Detta’s patois, which she seems to slip into every once in a while. Then she switches back to the more refined language of Odetta. Kind of odd — just to remind us she used to be two people, I guess, so their speech patterns were combined.

Uh...Roland is developing his own dual personality? Please say it ain’t so. Will he start talking in Mid-World gutter language when Rodetta comes forward?

Demon Bear is one of the twelve Guardians…okay, now we’re getting somewhere! Not sure where yet, but I sense the stirrings of a direction for the book.

 

The Waste Lands — “Jake: Fear in a Handful of Dust”: Bear and Bone, Section 7

Old Demon Bear seems to charge in slow-mo, giving Susannah time to sight on the little steel hat, which she thinks looks more like a radar-dish, while reciting Roland’s “I do not shoot with my hand” speech.

At the last moment, she finally understands what Roland’s been trying to teach her. Her fear disappears and leaves only a feeling of coldness. “This is what he (Roland) feels,” she thinks. “My God — how does he stand it?” Then with a paraphrases Cort’s immortal lines: “I kill with my heart, motherf**er,” and fires.

What Constant Reader Learns: Guess the Odetta part is the stone-cold killer, since she used proper King’s English instead of Detta’s “mafah.”

Seriously, though, I really love that speech of Cort’s that Roland taught her, and it’s cool that she is able to repeat it to herself as she sights on Demon Bear. Whether the speech itself holds some kind of power or just helps her focus, I’m not sure.

“Radar dish” on Bear’s head…does not compute yet.

 

The Waste Lands — “Jake: Fear in a Handful of Dust”: Bear and Bone, Section 8

Susannah’s bullet hits the little radar-dish thingie, which apparently is sitting atop a steel rod planted in Demon Bear’s skull. The rod is engulfed in blue fire, and instead of roaring when it’s hit, the bear — which obviously isn’t a bear at all — emits a “weird warbling sound like an air-raid siren.” Later, when it’s further along in the dying process, Eddie likens its groans to the sound of “some huge truck engine stripping its gears.”

As the bear lumbers around in a Camille-worthy death scene, Eddie climbs down the tree and Roland sets Susannah on the ground. She’s amazed at the size of it, and the amount of damage it caused to their camp — which is pretty much wrecked.

Finally, after much carrying on, “after all its strange centuries, the bear the Old People had called Mir — the world beneath the world — was dead.”

What Constant Reader Learns: Guess this really wasn’t your average demon bear.

So, if the bear is a “demon,” as we’ve been told, but the bear is also obviously a technological creation, then what is the relationship between technology and evil/demons? Is technology a tool by which evil half-human/half-demon Walter and others of his ilk create destruction? Or am I trying to read too much into it?

Demon Bear has quite the death scene. He moans and circles and shakes the tree and falls to his knees and convulses…and finally dies. It’s another one of those scenes that works in print but could be so very, very bad on film…or pretty awesome.

So if Demon Bear is part animal and part machine, or at least it’s seeming that way, what are the “parasites?”

 

The Waste Lands — “Jake: Fear in a Handful of Dust”: Bear and Bone, Section 9

Eddie and Susannah have a little tender reunion, where — interesting — Susannah says she hopes she never has to do that again, all the while thinking she’d very much like to do it again. She’s channeling her inner Roland.

Roland, meanwhile, has gone over to look at the bear “with an expression of pity and wonder.”

“Hello, stranger. Hello, old friend. I never believed in you,” he thinks. The Guardians were legends even in Roland’s childhood, and although Alain and Cuthbert believed in them (“Cuthbert believed in everything”), Roland thought they were only children’s stories. “But you were here all along,” he thinks, “another refugee of the old times, like the pump at the way station and the old machines under the mountains.” Roland wonders if the Slow Mutants in the mountains were the descendants of the Old People from this forest, and thinks probably so.

Eddie brings Susannah to look at the dead bear and the hordes of parasites leaving his mouth and nostrils. They’re shocked when Roland tells them the creature’s been alive two or three thousand years.

There’s a metal tag set on the bear’s rear legs. On it is etched

North Central Positronics Ltd.

Granite City

Northeast Corridor

Design 4 GUARDIAN

Type/Species BEAR

SHARDIK

SUBNUCLEAR CELLS MUST NOT BE REPLACED

Eddie and Susannah are trying to decide if the bear is a robot that somehow still bleeds when they notice Roland using his knife to gouge out one of the bear’s eyeballs (something, as I recall, he threatened to do to Jack Mort). He leans over the body of Shardik the Guardian Bear, and tells his companions to come and look at “a wonder of the latter days.” They see what sounds like a computer motherboard, to which Eddie responds: “It isn’t a bear, it’s a f**ing Sony Walkman.” (Speaking of a world moved on.)

Roland stands up and is trying to tell them they need to move camp…and then collapses, clutching his head.

What Constant Reader Learns: Uh, Susannah, babe? Here’s the deal. I know Eddie’s the love of your life, but that big honkin’ bear sneezed worms and snot all over him, and do you want to be kissing on that? How do you think that hair you’re running your hands through got wet? Huh? Demon Bear Mucus, that’s how.

As Roland’s watching the bear die, he thinks about his “deadly new friends, who are becoming so much like my deadly old friends. We came, weaving our magic circle around everything we touch, strand by poisonous strand, and now here you lie, at our feet. The world has moved on again, and this time, old friend, it’s you who have been left behind.”

I love that passage — it speaks to the passing of long eras, of whole worlds gone before, and I can’t help but wonder if, by the time all this is done, the world will have moved on again, leaving Roland behind after he’s set things to right.

Okay, we saw the Positronics name either back at the Way Station, I think (or was it in the mountains?). And, uh, Shardik’s electronic innards smell like bananas? What’s up with that? And Eddie thinks he recognizes that name from somewhere, and says he associates it with rabbits. Okay, I’m officially befuddled.

 

The Waste Lands — “Jake: Fear in a Handful of Dust”: Bear and Bone, Section 10

Eddie and Susannah and Suzanne are appropriately alarmed when Roland collapses. He’s still obsessing over whether or not Jake really existed as Roland and Rodetta argue the point. “The boy,” Roland says to Susannah. “It’s always the boy.” Then, with the immortal words “Go then, there are other worlds than theses,” Roland faints.

What Constant Reader learns: Roland’s in big trouble. If he’s unsure what is real and what is not, will that make him question the Tower itself, or is it just the Jake issue?

 

The Waste Lands — “Jake: Fear in a Handful of Dust”: Bear and Bone, Section 11

The trio makes its way to the clearing where Ro has been giving Susannah shooting lessons. They’re gathered around a fire, and Eddie’s looking at the stars and worrying about Roland. Ro is huddled under three skins, despite the warm weather. He isn’t eating — what he is doing is cradling the jawbone.

Eddie and Susannah decide they have to make Roland tell them what’s wrong, so they go to the campfire. Eddie puts Susannah on Roland’s right, and he sits at the gunslinger’s left. “How close you both sit to me,” Ro says. “Like lovers…or warders in a gaol.” Roland says it’s been so long since he’s had companions, he doesn’t know where to start. “Start with the bear,” Eddie says, and Susannah points to the jawbone: “And finish with this.”

What Constant Reader learns: Eddie figures it’s late summer in Roland’s world. I hadn’t really thought about the time of year also being relative between worlds, but makes sense. He’s also watching Old Mother rising above the horizon, and Old Star. Interesting that Eddie is beginning to think in RolandSpeak. Eddie recalls a lengthy story from Roland’s reminiscences that is a variation on the Greek constellation myth of Cassiopeia, who was hung upside down in a rocking chair in the stars.

 

The Waste Lands — “Jake: Fear in a Handful of Dust”: Bear and Bone, Section 12

Roland says his story is one he was told as a child: that in the early days, the Great Old Ones (who weren’t gods but almost had the knowledge of gods) created Twelve Guardians to guard the portals that lead in and out of the world. The portals, he says, might be something natural like a constellation or a geyser, although other people — such as Hax, the cook hanged for treason — said they weren’t natural but had been created by the Great Old Ones.

Eddie notes that the whole notion of “portals” brings them back to doors again and wonders if, like the doors on the beach, the portals lead to other versions of the world where he and Susannah came from — a big part of him still holds out hope he can one day go home. Roland doesn’t know but he guesses the answer is no — that the portals probably go to a “where” or “when” that they don’t recognize. That the doors on the beach were like the center of a seesaw — on one end is Roland’s ka, on the other, Walter’s ka. But the portals guarded by the Guardians “are things far greater than Walter, or me, or the little fellowship we three have made.” The portals are outside ka — beyond ka.

Roland draws a large circle with twelve Xs around the outside, with lines coming from each and intersecting in the center. The Xs are the portals; the center where they all connect are the Tower — the Great Portal, the so-called Thirteenth Gate which rules not just this world but all worlds.”

What Constant Reader learns: Roland admits — and it’s probably a warning for us Constant Readers — that for every thing he knows, there are a hundred things he doesn’t. “You will have to reconcile yourselves to that fact,” he says. “The world has moved on…When it did, it went like a great receding wave, leaving only wreckage behind…wreckage that sometimes looks like a map.”

Here we have the best explanation yet — with diagrams, even — of what the Tower is, and I have to wonder if Roland will have to find all twelve portals in order to get to the Tower. Hm….

 

The Waste Lands — “Jake: Fear in a Handful of Dust”: Bear and Bone, Section 13

Roland continues his story about the Great Old Ones. The Guardians included the Bear, the Fish, the Lion, the Bat. The Turtle was an important one — and he recites a childhood poem about the kind, slow Turtle that has kind of a “Jesus Loves Me” vibe to it. Hax taught the poem to him, Roland says, laughing, amazed that he remembers it.

As he grew older, he no longer believed in the Guardians — that they were symbolic rather than real.

Eddie theorizes that the Bear, the Guardians, are what in his world were called cyborgs — a creature part flesh, part machine. He talks about the movie “Robocop.” He wonders how Roland knew it needed to be shot in its satellite dish, and Roland says the phrase “put on your thinking cap” came from the story of the Guardians — it’s like an extra brain out the outside the head.

And here we have it, folks: “When we find the portal this Shardik guarded — and that should only be a matter of following its backtrail — we will finally have a course to follow. We must set the portal to our backs and then simply move straight ahead. At the center of the circle…the Tower.” Sounds like marching orders to me.

That story told, Roland tries to move on to talking about Jake — that losing his sanity is his punishment for letting Jake — “a boy who never existed” — fall to his death. Apparently, when Roland was sick, he ranted about Jake a lot (as well as lots of other people from his past) — he remembers Eddie saying he’d gag him if he didn’t stop talking about the kid. Eddie doesn’t remember this.

Finally, Roland says he thinks he understands what is happening. (Glad somebody does!) So he settles back to tell them about a story that’s true, and one that isn’t true — but should be.)

What Constant Reader Learns: We’re going back to some religious and social symbolism here, I think, not only the childhood poem, but the transition from childhood faith to adult doubt, from belief in the unseen to adult literalism….and that, in Roland’s case, those normal life transitions proved wrong. Wonder if that’s why Roland thinks he’s losing his sanity — too many things he believes in are proving unreliable. Or maybe it’s just guilt over Jake.

Roland’s recollections clash with Eddie’s, making Roland doubt his sanity even more. He remembers Eddie threatening to gag him if he didn’t stop ranting about Jake when he was feverish; Eddie doesn’t remember it. Roland remembers telling Eddie about sacrificing Jake under the mountain in order to reach the man in black; Eddie says Roland told him he went alone into the mountain. Ro and Rodetta have a major conflict here.

 

The Waste Lands — “Jake: Fear in a Handful of Dust”: Bear and Bone, Section 14

Roland tells Eddie and Susannah about his trip to Tull, about Sheb and Allie and Nort. He talks about Sylvia Pittston, and the “final apocalyptic slaughter.” He talks about the desert dweller and the bird Zoltan that ate the mule’s eyeballs. And he talks about finding the way station. “It was empty. It had been empty, I think, since the days when yonder great bear was still a newly made thing.”

Then he tells the Jake version of the story — “the one that isn’t true, but should be.”

He jumps back to the “real” version — where he finds the pump, drinks some water, sleeps, and then moves on, taking nothing from the place with him except water.

Then he tells “our” version, where he finds Jake, hypnotizes him, goes into the cellar, finds the Speaking Demon, and takes the jawbone. The demon said, “go slow past the Drawers, gunslinger.”

Susannah recognizes the Drawers, or what they stand for — a place Detta Walker thought about, a slang term meaning a place that’s spoiled. Detta’s version of the Drawers was a gravel-pit filled with trash, but more than that it was a mental space where she went to shoplift or pick up white boys at roadhouses. Not always bad places, but powerful places where she could reinvent herself. In Roland’s world, he says Drawers could mean a trash-midden, or a whorehouse, or a place to gamble or chew devil-weed.

“But the most common meaning that I know is also the simplest,“ Roland says. ”The Drawers are places of desolation. The Drawers are the waste lands.”

What Constant Reader Learns: Oh lord, I’m so confused.


That’s it for this week! Next week — same time, same place — we’ll read the next sections of Bear and Bone, the first chapter in “Book One Jake: Fear in a Handful of Dust.”

39 comments
erxbooks
1. erxbooks
Shardik is a book about a giant bear by Richard Adams who also.wrote Warship Down. This is why Eddie thinks of.rabbits.
Irene Gallo
2. Irene
Service announcement for those that have read head: We have a preview of Dark Towers 8 : Wind Through the Keyhole, inlcuding some great drawings by Jae Lee.
jon meltzer
3. jmeltzer
So, after book 4, does this reread go to "Keyhole" or to "Wolves"? (And the publishers of 5 through 7 are going to have to issue new editions. Or cross off the cover numbers or something like that. )
erxbooks
4. 12Stringer
#1 - "Watership Down".

The Turtle has other significance in the King canon; reference "It"...
erxbooks
5. Lsana
I was going to mention the Shardik connection, but I see others beat me to it.

I love Roland's story of the guardians and the portals, and the "wreckage of a world that has moved on." It gives a hint of the vastness of Roland's world and all the legends and history that went before him. It was enough to make me want to know more, and not so little that I thought I was being cheated.

And yeah, Eddie's comparision of Shardik to a Walkman should probably go under "Signs that the World has moved on." Though technically, they only discontinued the Walkman about a year ago.
aaron thompson
6. trench
North Central Positronics Ltd, was also mentioned when Ro and Jake were traveling under the mountains.

@4 I never new the Turtle was an "It" refrence. I always took it to be a Terry Pratchett shout out.

I like how Rolands, mind has become split. I don't consider it to be DID. Because they are both the exact same Roland but with seperate memories of the Boy. But the Roland and Rodetta refrence cracked me up. Later on the splits become more serious but also comedic and I always got a laugh out of them, or maybe I am just morbid.
Jack Flynn
7. JackofMidworld
Another instance of tie-ins from other SK novels: A fella from East Texas also had some distinct memories/feelings regarding Watership Down...
Marcus W
8. toryx
The Turtle is definitely a reference to "It." Another reason for you to read it, Suzanne!

I recognized the Shardik reference right away because The Stand had me reading all of Richard Adam's books. I still have Shardik and Watership Down sitting on the bookshelf next to my Stephen King collection.
Sanctume Spiritstone
9. Sanctume
I was listening to the audio book Song of Susanah recently and SK had some author's notes pertaining to the turtle originating from religion (Hindu, I think)--something like the world on the turtle's back.
Suzanne Johnson
10. SuzanneJohnson
Ah....Watership Down. I read that a thousand years ago, but that reference went right over my head.

I'm thinking it might be fun to go ahead and read the new book between 4 and 5, but what would you guys prefer to do?
erxbooks
11. Paulie
I think Roland going a little nuts is understandable. He changed history when he stopped Mort from pushing Jake in front of the car. So, now there is no Jake at the pumping station...but Roland remembers both versions of history. I believe it's called a paradox.
erxbooks
12. Andy T.
re: the reading order - Not having read the new book yet, obviously, it's hard to say. I think it depends on how seamlessly he is able to work it in between those two books. There is a gap there, (well, it's quickly summarized), and I'm sure book IV will flow into it OK. But... if the events of that book are "big" enough, later books might feel a bit off since they won't change to reflect this new book. But then again, you started with the revised version of the Gunslinger instead of the original and maybe it would be best to insert that book chronologically.

Oh, and regarding your "I'm so confused" - I applaud your dedication to your limits, I don't think I could have stopped til I found a more conclusive break in the narrative.
erxbooks
13. Kvon
I never really understood what the Turtle was supposed to be doing in It. He got mentioned, what, twice? Was there anything more to him (in It or others) other than him not being where he should?
erxbooks
14. trench
I think it would be a cool to read Wind Through the Keyhole after book 4. It would be intresting to see your reaction to it with fresh eyes compared to ours.
erxbooks
15. Roger Simmons 1
I think it would be best to read "The Wind Through the Keyhole" after book four. After all it's a new book for all of us. Those that have read the entire series may really enjoy something new to talk about.
erxbooks
16. Kadere
@10- Depending on the timing, since Wind Through the Keyhole doesn't come out till the end of April and we're already in Wastelands, I'd be fine with Wind going between Wizards and Wolves. God knows I'll read it the week it comes out anyway.
Jack Flynn
17. JackofMidworld
If I was reading for the first time (and assuming it's written in the proper framework, not spoiling the entire rest of the series), I'd probably read Keyhole in between 4 and 5, too.
Suzanne Johnson
18. SuzanneJohnson
Thanks for all the comments. I'll let the Tor Gods decide, but I'd kind of like to go ahead and read Keyhole between 4 and 5 if the timing works out. I'll have to plot and plan ahead a little as to how much to read a week to see if it's even doable.

Re: knowing my limits....It seems like this week, I got way over 3,000 words and still had no resolution in sight, so I went ahead and stopped. But it was an awkward stopping place, agreed!
Risha Jorgensen
19. RishaBree
@Kvon - The Turtle, in It, is It's rival, though I get the general impression that the Turtle is more powerful. He offers advice to help the kids survive their first confrontation. As Roland's nursery rhyme says "He loves the land and loves the sea, And even loves a child like me." In the second timeline, as adults, "the Turtle can't help us". It's open to debate whether it's by choice, if it's because he can't help adults as much, or if he's suffering by then from the same sort of degradation that Shardik goes through.

That's assuming that the Beam Guardian isn't just a Turtle-tribute by good old North Central Positronics Ltd., of course. Since it's strongly implied in It that the Turtle created the universe.
Suzanne Johnson
20. SuzanneJohnson
@RishaBree...I always took it to mean that the turtle couldn't help adults as much because they've lost the faith. (Talk about frought with symbolism!) Of course now as I'm only beginning to dip into Dark Tower, I have a feeling I'm going to look back on the older Stephen King works with a different eye toward how they all might fit together!
erxbooks
21. StrongDreams
That's assuming that the Beam Guardian isn't just a Turtle-tribute by good old North Central Positronics Ltd., of course.

Although this has not yet been revealed in the story, I don't think it really counts as a spoiler because it's more about atmosphere and world-building than plot...

The "Great Old Ones" (North Central Positronics and others) built technology like the guardians to replace magic with technology. Their reasons for doing this are somewhat obscure and not necessarily benign. Technology that was supposed to last forever is already failing after only a couple thousand years, including Shardik. I'm sure that there is (or was) a mechanical turtle guardian, although he never appears in the story. But there is also a "spiritual" (or magical) turtle, whom the Old Ones tried to supplant with technology, but who continues to exist and influences the story at various upcoming points.
Eigor Maldonado
22. e-mann
If I ever see "North Central Positronics Ltd." show up in real life I'm building a cabin in the mountains and living off the grid!

Yes, Suzanne, confusion is going to be rampant but as the story goes it WILL start to come together and make sense. I think that King did a great job at mixing all of the various worlds together including our real world. I thought that it gave this whole story that extra fantasy vibe.
Risha Jorgensen
23. RishaBree
@StrongDreams - The Beam Guardian Turtle meant to replace the real Turtle makes complete sense, I just somehow never made that leap before, even knowning about the Great Old Ones' goals. Thanks for the head-desk. :)

Fun fact - the Turtle portal is the opposite end of the beam the Bear portal sits on.
erxbooks
24. Lsana
I admit it has been a while since I read IT all the way through, but I could swear that I remember that the kids looked for the Turtle and either didn't find it or found a body of some sort. Either way, they were pretty convinced that the Turtle was dead, which suggests in conjunction with this book that the Turtle too was a cyborg guardian that broke down. At the very least, the entity the kids met wasn't some sort of immortal spirit-being that was replaced later. Is there someone who's read IT more recently who could confirm?

I have some things to say about Northern Positronics and the Great Old Ones, but I'm not sure if they count as spoilers, so I'll refrain. I'll just say that at this point in the story, I don't think of them as villainous as much as simply failable. Yes, they may have caused Roland's world to be the screwed up place that it is, but they also did some good things, such as building the guardians. Most of the wonders of Roland's world are also due to them.
erxbooks
25. hohmeisw
"Oh lord, I'm so confused" - HA! I am not the only one anymore!

Your read did clear something up for me. A lot of it comes later in this book (which is the only one that tries to explain Roland's world, with a little help in 4), so I won't spoil it. But the section about the portals, the guardians, and the upcoming beams, finally makes sense to me.
erxbooks
26. strongdreams
I've never read It, but the wikipedia plot summary describes the turtle as a vast "galaxy-spawning" creature that lives outside of normal space and time, where it exists in opposition to the being that manifests on Earth as "It" (which also lives outside of space and time). And that, by the time the adults confront "It", the turtle is dead of space-indigestion.

Assuming that summary is reasonable correct, my own belief is that the turtle is not dead, but their belief that it is was created by It from their fears. A space turtle that gave birth to the universe is not going to conveniently die in the span of 20 years. (Either the turtle is alive and It faked out the adults, or King botched it, frankly.)

Exactly what the connection is between the two turtles is never clarified. There are a lot of connections between the different universes of King's work -- sometimes they are manifestly the same person or object, but sometimes they are only shadows (or maybe "twinners"). In any case, later events in The Dark Tower series are affected by the turtle, so it seems to exist on some level.
craig thrift
27. gagecreedlives
Lsana@24

In IT the Turtle did indeed create the universe but please dont blame him for it, he had a bellyache.

And from my memory I think Bill sees the left over shell as he is being thrust into the deadlights off camera but Richie can hear him screaming about the Turtle being dead

*edit*

Also that cover art wouldnt look out of place on a heavy metal album. Love it
Roland of Gilead
28. pKp
Yep...we'll see the old Turtle again, but how it connects to the whole Dark Tower mythos, I'm not really sure (was it mentioned in Insomnia at all ?*).
Also, apart from the Adams reference, the term "positronic" was created by Asimov, IIRC. His robots had "positronic brains". EDIT : and of course "Great Old Ones" is stolen from Lovecraft...it's Classic SF References week in Midworld, apparently.
Also also, while we're referencing It, the Drawers are pretty obviously close cousins to the Barrens, where the Loser's Club go to play. I seem to recall King writing (in On Writing) about some sort of semi-wild place where him and his brother used to go play, stating explicitely that this was his inspiration for the Barrens.

*For those interested in the King mythos, Insomnia is a fascinating read...probably the place where you'll get the most details on his cosmology. Not a great book, though.
Suzanne Johnson
29. SuzanneJohnson
Yes, I need to re-read both IT and INSOMNIA...it's been donkey's years since I've read either one, and all this sounds familiar but damned if I remember much about the turtle. *memoryfail*
Steven Halter
30. stevenhalter
I liked the further introduction of tech vs. magic in the form of the bear. One small problem was that it seemed a bit easy to kill--just hit the dish. Seems like kind of a big problem for something that is supposed to last for thousands of years.
Sydo Zandstra
31. Fiddler
@shalter:

Remember Shardik/Mir wasn't in top shape, because of those worms eating its brain.

I'd guess it would have been a lot faster/more aware/effective if it had been still in good shape, and our heroes would have needed a sniper rifle to hit that dish and still survive...


Also, the disease I mentioned could have been a part/result of what we will learn in later books, where the Guardians and what they are guarding are concerned...
erxbooks
32. Improbable Joe
I can't believe I'm late to the party! Good stuff this week, and it really starts filling in the fact that this isn't just a story about a guy with a gun walking to a big building somewhere off in the distance.
Risha Jorgensen
33. RishaBree
@Improbable Joe -

a story about a guy with a gun walking to a big building somewhere off in the distance.

I adore this summary.
Suzanne Johnson
34. SuzanneJohnson
@Improbable Joe/RishaBree....I love that summary too :-) You guys don't need me!
erxbooks
35. strongdreams
I'll raise that bet...

The Gunslinger. Roland walks across the desert.
Drawing of the Three. Rolands walks along the beach.
Wastelands. Rolands walks through the woods.
Wizard and Glass. Roland walks down memory lane.
Wolves of the Calla. Roland stands.
Song of Susannah. Roland goes for a drive.
The Dark Tower. Roland goes for a drive, a walk, another drive, then a really long walk.
Suzanne Johnson
36. SuzanneJohnson
@strongdreams...Oh no! That is so funny. Now I'm really wondering about Wolves of the Calla. Does Roland make a stand? Or does Roland just stand? You certain hit the first two spot-on.
craig thrift
37. gagecreedlives
pKp@28

Just remember when reading Insomnia not all is what it seems

Strongdreams@35

You may have just solved the mystery

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_Walk

Spoilerific link so dont click if you havent read
erxbooks
38. Strongdreams
Does Roland make a stand? Or does Roland just stand?

That would be telling.

Actually, I could have also said "Roland dances."
erxbooks
39. Jenny C.
My theory is the turtle in It is a reflection or manifestation of the vague benevolent forces of the Tower, which just happens to be a turtle because that particular world lies on the turtle's beam.

Which may or may not help the discussion at all.

Another linguistics tidbit: In my native tongue of Swedish, there's no word for "beam" that means both a light ray, a stuctural support device and to signal all at once, all of which seems to be functions and aspects of the beams of the tower. In trying to translate the books, they went with the word stråle, "ray", and lost all connotations of girders and scaffolds and such. Pretty scary when you think about it, the entire material, physiological presence of the tower is lost in translation, all that's left is a flimsy magic thingy that - as far as we know at this point - is no more substantial than a rainbow.

So about Roland's growing madness. I think this is the first of those funky occasions where the very sharpness of his senses work against him. He's got two conflicting memories in his mind. Most people I think would easily deal with that: Either convince yourself one of the memories was a dream, or you somehow remembered it wrong, or who knows, maybe just forget. I'd certainly easily forget the part where both of the memories are of the exact same, conflicting time, which is probably the very contradiction that's driving him mad. I always found it hard to place my memories in context, to remember when they happened. But Roland's senses have no slack whatsoever, and he can't help being aware that the days he used to have spent with Jake and the days he now spent without Jake were the same days. That should be difficult.

Maybe a medical prescription of mariuana would be the best solution. Side effects, dulled mental and sensory faculties, memory loss? That's just what I was looking for!

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