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Complete He Says He Is An Experimental Theologian By SailorPtah - M - HDM/WTNV

Discussion in 'Books' started by Thaumologist, Jul 10, 2016.

  1. Thaumologist

    Thaumologist Minister of Magic

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2011
    Messages:
    1,385
    Location:
    Chester, England
    Title: He Says He Is An Experimental Theologian
    Author: SailorPtah
    Rating: M
    Genre: Mystery/Slice of Life?
    Status: Complete. Also, there's sequels.
    Fandom: His Dark Materials / Welcome To Night Vale
    Pairings: Cecil/Carlos
    Length: 181K, 32 chapters
    Summary:
    Links:
    Archive of Our Own series page
    Chapter One
    Director's Cut edition

    Okay, so this is odd. It's a mashup of the Pullman's HDM universe and the Welcome to Night Vale podcasts, set in the original times for each. So the events of NL, TSK, and TAS all happened a hundred years back or so, and now Carlos Ramirez is moving from New Denmark to Hispania Nova (I think) to do research in the strange town of Night Vale. His counterpart, Carlo Raimondi, goes to work in the nearby town of Desert Bluffs, and makes new friends working for Strexcorp.

    The biggest thing for me, first of all, was that this is told from the point of view of Carlos Perfecto, the outsider. He comes to Night Vale, and doesn't know all of the rules (no writing instruments, angels do not exist, do not think about the dog park), and as such everything is really weird.

    Listening to the podcast, Cecil never really goes "Oh, and this is all really strange, isn't it?", instead talking about it as if everything was normal. A five headed dragon on the run from the secret police? Just remember to report him if you see him, so you can get your loyalty card stamped.

    This makes the writing more unsettling, but it doesn't cross into creepypasta. And with Lyra&Pan's adventures being a popular kids' TV series, the existence of the panserbjorn, the realm of the dead, and so on... There is a reason for Carlos not just running screaming out of town whilst bleeding from the eyes. Still, the non-reaction of various characters so far is a little strange.

    I'm currently about a third of the way through the work, but it's interesting, novel, well written, and good fun. Carlos has just gone home for Christmas, and confuses his family when he turns up the radio to listen to the weather. He's also just on his way back from an eventful church visit.


    Now, I haven't read HDM in years, possibly a decade. But you probably don't really need to know much - daemons, witches, and the church. A quick wander through the wikipedia article would probably be enough, although it may well be readable by someone who isn't familiar at all with it.
    I'm not up to date with Night Vale, and haven't listened to that in a while either. BUT if you aren't familiar with the podcast, I'd listen to an episode or two before reading this. It'll help you understand the tone, maybe, a bit better.

    The writer does use Spanish (I think? Could be Mexican), and Russian (so far), although they do provide a translation at the end of each chapter. If you want it instantly, AO3 allows you to highlight text, so copying into translate isn't an issue.

    Rated 5/5. I started reading three hours ago, and didn't realise where my evening went.
     
  2. Thaumologist

    Thaumologist Minister of Magic

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2011
    Messages:
    1,385
    Location:
    Chester, England
    I continued reading the series, and finished it late last night.

    There's three main stories, a sequel, and a few side stories. The three main (He Says He Is An Experimental Theologian, Cecil On The N.T.A., and A Blinking Light Up On The Clouded Mountain) are all quite good. It feels like both sides of the story matter - whilst it is about Night Vale vs Strexcorp, the multiple worlds and other such things from HDM are pulled in and used in a reasonable way. It doesn't feel like much has been added for the sake of being added, although a few extra crossover elements aren't necessary. I feel like this is how a real crossover should work.

    Something that seems to come up often in the WTNV fandom, including this series, is the large amount of non cis-het characters. This doesn't feel forced, as such, in the text, but it is highly visible and a not-insignificant part of the plot. I don't think anyone ever mentions in story that the proportions of the theological team are different than expected (other than a throwaway line about "but if you leave, then XX will be the only hetero person left!", or something like that). This doesn't ruin anything, but it was something noticeable and unaddressed. A pretty early plot point involves one character being confused by another, ad I didn't realise why until much later.

    One last thing to add about the main series:
    AO3 is quite chatty, with the ability to have comment chains after each chapter. Sailorptah seems to have been quite active in these, which I completely missed on my read through (entire work view, as there were warnings about the site going down). I probably wouldn't have read them anyway, but they might be worth digging through if things confuse you.

    Finally, the last story. It's set a year or two after the main story, and deals with a character's depression.
    It's worth reading, as an addition to the series, but it's a slow burning "make them better" story, so YMMV. I didn't really like it, but I didn't hate it either.
     
  3. Dark Minion

    Dark Minion Bright Henchman Moderator DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2006
    Messages:
    2,229
    No one? Not even one review?

    It's already overdue but I'll give it another week on the Review Board. So read and review, please.