Spirits in the Wires

Spirits in the Wires

Book - 2003
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Charles de Lint's Newford novels, loosely linked "tales" with overlapping characters set in an imaginary modern North American city, are tales of magic and myth afoot on today's city streets. But at the center of every de Lint story is the miracle of the human heart.And at the heart of Spirits in the Wires are Saskia Madding and Christiana Tree, both of whom are tied to perennial Newford character, the writer Christy Riddell. Are either Saskia or Christiana real? Christy's girlfriend, Saskia, believes she was born in a Web site, while Christiana is Christy's "shadow-self" - all the parts of him that he cast out when he was seven years old.At a popular Newford on-line research and library Web site called the Wordwood, a mysterious "crash" occurs. Everyone visiting the site at the moment of the crash vanishes from where they were sitting in front of their computers. Saskia disappears right before Christy's eyes, along with countless others.Now Christy and his companions must journey into Newford's otherworld, where the Wordwood, it transpires, has a physical presence of its own... to rescue their missing friends and loved ones and to set this viral spirit right before it causes further harm.
Publisher: New York : Tor, 2003.
ISBN: 9780312873981
0312873980
Branch Call Number: [SCI-FI] FIC/DE LINT
Characteristics: 448 p. ; 24 cm.

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Michael Colford Aug 22, 2013

Charles de Lint is a prolific writer of fantasy whose books often deal with spirits, faeries, worlds just beyond our perception where all matter of magical folks live. In this novel from 2003 he posits that the world wide web has evolved into one such world where spirits have taken up residence alongside our own world as well as the Borderlands and the Otherworlds where hobs, pixies, goblins, faeries, hellhounds and other such beings lurk. One website in particular, the Wordwood, seems to be home to a very powerful spirit, and when the site is attacked by a computer virus, the devastating effects are made manifest in our world in the disappearance of dozens, possibly hundreds of people. In fact, Christy Redding's girlfriend, Saskia, disappears right before his eyes, her body pixellating into nothingness. Of course, Saskia isn't a normal person. She was born of the web; a spirit cast out from the web to awaken fully cognizant with implanted memories but no actual experience in a human body. Then there is Christiana, Christy's shadow; all of the traits that Christy didn't want at age seven that he cast off into his shadow. Christiana began life as everything Christy wasn't: where Christy was male, Christiana was female; where Christy was cautious, Christiana was impetuous... etc. After Saskia's disappearance, Christy reaches out to a ragtag assortment of friends and allies to help him try to find her, little knowing that her best source of information would be his shadow, Christiana.

Spirits in the Wires is a rollicking adventure held on multiple fronts as a variety of fun and fascinating characters all do their part in helping the people who have disappeared. Some of his supporting characters come across as slightly stereotypical, but that might be the shorthand of the fact that many of these characters have appeared in other works that I haven't read. de Lint handles the female characters particularly well, especially in their relationships with each other. At its heart, Spirits in the Wires is more internal story of where we come from and who we are. Saskia and Christiana struggle with their unconventional beginnings and ask whether that makes the any less human? By the end of the novel we will know the answer, but in de Lint's skillful hands, how could they be anything but?

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