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Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman(1946- )
Philip Pullman is from Norwich England. He was a teacher until he began writing full time in 1996. He has written numerous stand-alone novels and a couple of historical fiction mysteries for children. He won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the most prestigious prize in children’t literature, in 2005. Learn more at Philip Pullman‘s website.

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His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials — (1995-2000) Ages 9-12. The Golden Compass is titled Northern Lights outside the US. Publisher: In a landmark epic of fantasy and storytelling, Philip Pullman invites readers into a world as convincing and thoroughly realized as Narnia, Earthsea, or Redwall. Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing — victims of so-called “Gobblers” — and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person’s inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.

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The Golden Compass: Extraordinary, controversial, fascinating, infuriating

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The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass (or, if you follow the British print-run, Northern Lights) is the first book of Philip Pullman's extraordinary, controversial, thought-provoking, fascinating, infuriating, allegorical trilogy His Dark Materials. Followed by The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, the books have a huge range of ideas and meanings; from exploring the bond between the body and soul, to denouncing modern religious practices, to retelling Milton's Paradise Lost from a completely different point of view. Throughout, the story is compelling and beautifully told, the source of endless debates and discussions, and a narrative with such an extreme and unique messag... Read More

The Subtle Knife: An amazing piece of literature

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The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

The Subtle Knife is the second in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, beginning with The Golden Compass and ending with The Amber Spyglass. It is an amazing piece of literature; often more suited for adult readers than for the children/young adults that it's geared toward, and with a message that — though controversial — is immensely thought provoking and worth pondering. Strangely enough, this second book is actually my favourite installment in the series; odd since middle books are often those that flounder.

At the end of The Golden Compass, Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon walked into the Northern Lights, across the bridge Lord Asriel had made and into ano... Read More

The Amber Spyglass: Pullman becomes intolerant

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The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

At the end of The Subtle Knife, things were dire. Lyra had been kidnapped by her mother Mrs Coulter, whilst Will was left in the company of two angels with the subtle knife (which can create windows between worlds) and the altheiometer (that communicates with the mystery substance known as 'Dust'). Refusing to accompany them to Lord Asriel, who is on the verge of war with Heaven itself, Will enlists the angels help in tracking down Lyra, and is soon joined by Iorek Byrnison, the king of the polar bears. Meanwhile, Lyra herself is forced into an enchanted sleep by her mother, whilst the powers of the Church and the Authority close in to end her life and thus the terrible threat she poses against them. When the two children are reunited, they hatch a plan to go right to the end of where the subtle knife can take them; right into death itself.... Read More

Lyra’s Oxford: Another glimpse into Pullman’s Oxford

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Lyra's Oxford by Philip Pullman

Everything Means Something...

First of all, if you have not read Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, then don't attempt to read this story, as you'll be utterly baffled. But if you have, you'll be treated with another glimpse into the parallel Oxford that Pullman so vividly created and explored in Northern Lights/The Golden Compass.

The book itself is beautifully presented, bound in cloth and filled with engravings of the city by John Lawrence, a style of art that perfectly matches Pullman's atmosphere of a gritty, turn-of-the-century English city. Included in the book is a quote from an Oxford guide, an introduction, the short story itself entitled "Lyra and the Birds", a map of Oxford, and then a collection of bits ... Read More

Once Upon a Time in the North: Lee Scoresby meets Iorek Byrnison

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Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman

Lee Scoresby, a young Texan aeronaut, and his dæmon, Hester the rabbit, land their balloon in Novy Odense, a frontier harbor in the North. Lee is all but broke, so he goes into town looking for business. There’s no work for an aeronaut, but there is a lot of trouble waiting for an honorable man. Naturally, Lee and Hester wind up in the middle of it.

It turns out that the Larsen Manganese, a mining company, has allied with Ivan Demitrovich Poliakov, a mayoral candidate, as part of their scheme to control of the North. The company’s guards are throwing their weight around Novy Odense, which disrupts honest trade, while Poliakov incites hate against the bears, including one Iorek Byrnison, which distracts from the Northern takeover. Lee winds up siding with the bears and businessmen, even if it means risking a gunfight against Poliakov an... Read More

The Firework-Maker’s Daughter: Another wonderful tale for children

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The Firework-Maker’s Daughter by Philip Pullman

The Firework-Maker’s Daughter is a short children’s book written by Phillip Pullman and it’s a little gem. Pullman pulls off a perfect recipe of magic, adventure and pure fun in this sparkling little fairy tale.

Lila is the daughter of the talented firework maker Lachland. All Lila wants is to become a true firework maker herself, but to do so she must make the perilous journey to the fire-fiend Razvani and bring back some Royal Sulphur. What’s worse, she sets off before her father can tell her the one thing she’ll need to survive Razvani’s flames. Luckily Lila has good friends in the form of Hamlet, the talking white elephant, and his special minder Chaluk, who follow Lila in hot pursuit, bumping into goddes... Read More

Clockwork: Bad things happen when you don’t finish a story

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Clockwork: or All Wound Up by Philip Pullman

Clockwork: or All Wound Up (1996) is a very short (about 100 pages) children’s fairytale by Philip Pullman. It stars Karl and Fritz, two young Germans who have not finished a job that they were supposed to do and are worried about what will happen when the townspeople find out. Karl and Fritz meet one snowy evening in the local tavern. Karl, the clockmaker’s apprentice, is brooding because tomorrow is the day when he must unveil the mechanical project he’s supposed to have finished. For hundreds of years, each apprentice has contributed an exquisite clockwork figure to the town’s clock and everyone gathers on graduation day to admire it in the town square. Karl confesses to Fritz that he has not created anything.

Frit... Read More

The Scarecrow and his Servant: Pretty hefty stuff

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The Scarecrow and his Servant by Philip Pullman

We Might Sometimes Go Hungry, But We Will Never Want for Adventure...

Philip Pullman is best known for his young-adult fantasy series His Dark Materials as well as the Victorian thrillers starring Sally Lockhart, but he also has quite a few children's books under his belt, all of which are whimsical and comedic in nature. The Scarecrow and His Servant is one such story, highly reminiscent of Lloyd Alexander's work and definitely a change of pace from Pullman's darker, more sophisticated fare.

A farmer builds a scarecrow with a turnip for a head and a broomstick for a backbone, and pl... Read More

SFM: El-Mohtar, Miller, Cooney, Pullman, Bear, Valente

Short Fiction Monday: Here are some of the stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about. This week we continue focusing on 2015 Nebula-nominated short fiction, along with some other stories that caught our attention.



“Madeleine” by Amal El-Mohtar (2015, free on Lightspeed magazineKindle magazine issue), nominated for the 2015 Nebula award (short story)

Madeleine is in therapy after the death of her mother from Alzheimer’s. She and her therapist, Clarice, are discussing the loss of her mother and the odd side-effects from a clinical trial for an Alzheimer’s drug that Madeleine has taken part in. ... Read More