Lost in a Good Book – Jasper Fforde, discussion questions.

Thursday’s grandmother says she cannot die until she has read the ten most boring classics ever written. What do you think those are?

It’s difficult to comment since I haven’t read nearly all the classics available to choose from, but if one was to go by reputation alone… Spencer’s Faerie Queen would probably be top… Le Morte d’Arthur, any of Dickens I can’t make it though any of his, Ulysses, Lorna Doon, Watership Down, which I have read a portion of and seen the film an utterly depressing view of rabbits that I could have done without at the age of 5 (when I had to watch the film, at a birthday party no less) and personally Jane Austen, she just doesn’t do it for me, so if I was reading the most boring books to me, then hers would be on the list… and I know of a few people who that announcement would horrify.

What sort of impact would the discovery of a long-lost play by Shakespeare make in Thursday’s book-loving world? What kind of impact would it make in our world? What kind of discovery would make an equivalent impact in our world, if not the discovery of a Shakespearean play?

In Thursday’s world it would make a very big impact, since they have Will-speak machines and audience participation Shakespeare performances. In our society, generally very little, to scholars, well, that would be their academia sorted until they retired.

Aornis Hades is both a mnemonomorph memory eraser and a coincidence manipulator. With the former, she erases memory; with the latter, she murders people. Which is the more dangerous characteristic? Which act does the most harm to a person? Which act has the most impact on Thursday’s life?

I think that her mnemonomorph ability is probably the most dangerous characteristic. Technically murdering someone does the most harm, but they are also then dead so other than the fact that they are no longer living, there is no lasting harm coming to them. Ultimately living with memory erasure is probably the most harmful; it certainly is to Thursday Next. Look at people with Alzheimer’s for example, there is an example of severe memory deterioration that affects their daily living, they can forget people, relations, what they are doing, what they should or shouldn’t be doing, it has a devastating impact, at least eventually, to both the person and those surrounding them.

Destiny plays an important role in the first novel and coincidence plays an important role in this one. How does Fforde define a coincidence? How do coincidences relate to destiny in a world where time travel is a reality? How would you define a coincidence?

According to Fforde, 7 Irma Cohen’s are a coincidence and has a high unlikelihood factor. I think he describes coincidence as events occurring that seem humanly contrived but in actuality are naturally caused; they make you think twice about them because it is so unlikely that they would actually occur in reality.

Until recently I always thought that coincidences only occurred because you were potentially more aware of your surroundings so might notice something like that happening when normally you probably would not, because the event isn’t on your mind, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, just that you don’t spot it because, well, why should you notice something like a name occurring with regularity. For example, a few years ago I heard of someone called Gaynor, at the time I had never even heard the name, within a week I had heard of four others, this wasn’t a coincidence it’s just that I was more tuned into the name at that time.

Now, I am not so sure, I am seriously considering making a pocket entropy scope… some of the things I have noticed recently have been rather Ffordian in their execution and somewhat unsettling, the proverbial shit may be about to hit the fan… and I’m not sure I’ll know when to duck.

Thursday jumps into books, but she also visits Landen in her memories. Which world is more palpable for you, the world created when you can lose yourself in a book or the world of memory? Which world would you rather be able to jump back into?

Whilst I think a memory is probably more palpable because it is something you essentially own and are the creator of… I think the ability to jump into books holds the most appeal, simply due to my own literary interests. It certainly has the most scope for gaining insight and depth to novels read and also in exploring as yet uncharted territories in the book world. Plus the chance to meet the actual characters not your self idealised versions, which are likely mediocre copies since a characters development in your mind when reading can depend on interest, mood at the time, what you felt about the novel and characters in question etc.

Thursday manages to outwit the prosecutor in a trial that takes place in Kafka’s novel. What other fictional courts could she have gone before? What would be the best case to argue in the other fictional trials?

There’s the Britsh courts of say, Kavanagh QC fame, hard to say since most of the crime I read, doesn’t actually end up within a court, it’s more the discovery and the solving than the results decided upon the guilty party. I thought her arguments within Kafka were particularly inspired and fantastically novel.

Thursday’s father says, “Scientific thought, indeed, any mode of thought whether it be religious or philosophical or anything else, is just like the fashions that we wear—only much longer-lived. It’s a little like a boy band.” What does he mean by this? Do you agree or disagree? Do you think it’s possible to have the scientific thought equivalent to the “boy band so good that you never need another boy band again—or even any more music”?

I think that this, whilst an unusual choice of analogies, is a most apt one. Scientific ideas go in and out of fashion, they are all the rage for a wile and then someone new comes a long and proves/disproves the theory, or dickers with it until it becomes something similar yet different and we go along with that. Look where have come from Archimedes to DaVinci, Lucretius to Copernicus etc. Science, by its very nature is constantly changing and evolving (or regressing on occasion). We used to think the world was flat, that the universe revolved around us (what a very human thing to think), the Catholic church imprisoned people or burnt them as heretics because of a suggestion, a theory they put forward about the way the world was or worked or what it’s place was within the grand scheme of the universe etc. We develop scientific theories daily, many of them are just that, theories that don’t take off, because they were only a suggestion, others change the face of science as we once knew it.

So yes, Science is very much like the evolution of boy bands and often just as unpalatable as some.

The Neanderthals are interesting new characters in the second book. How would Neanderthal clones be received in our world? Do you think it would be ethical to reintroduce extinct species like the dodo and the Neanderthal in our world? Why or why not?

I do not think it would be ethical, simply because I think we lack the responsibility to carry the idea through properly and thoroughly. We have a short attention span for the new and exciting and eventually like Stig and compatriots they would eventually be abandoned to their fate within a society that was not even remotely like anything their species would have known. Whilst I think pet Dodo’s sound great, I don’t think I could do it. I think they would be received as something that was a fad, they’d be fascinating for a while and innovative but then like other fads would quickly lose their appeal, but these are flesh and blood autonomous creatures (not sure people is particularly appropriate) it would be like abandoning a new pet after the novelty has worn off.


About Nerdsbian

I am a nerd for ALL seasons. Ravenclaw...natch. I am a genderqueer Librarian who unsurprisingly likes reading...a lot. But I also love being outside too...sometimes even reading at the same time. Also animals, any and all of them. Never yet met one that didn't get on with me and vice versa. I do a couple of different voluntary jobs (animal charity related), I am a Brownie Leader and have recently completed my MA.
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