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|A Swiftly Tilting Planet
by Madeleine L'Engle
Published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1978
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Highly Recommended by: Ross Pavlac
Further adventures of the children from A Wrinkle in Time.
A Swiftly Tilting Planet is a sequel to A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door. As this story picks up, Meg is married and pregnant, but she is visiting with the Murrys for Thanksgiving. Meg's brother Charles Wallace is now 15, although he looks only 12. Then, dinner is interrupted by a telephone call from the president. The world is poised on the brink of nuclear annihilation, and the key to the crisis is the leader of the small South American country of Vespugia, a mysterious man called Madog Branzillo.
Then, Meg's strange mother-in-law recites a poem:
In this fateful hour,
When asked where she heard it, "Mom" O'Keefe says it's not a poem, but a rune, and lays a charge upon Charles Wallace (whom she calls "Chuck") to do something about the crisis. But how is a 15 year old supposed to stop a distant madman from launching a nuclear war? Charles meets a flying unicorn named Gaudior, who takes him, not between places, but between times. Through a series of adventures, Charles Wallace (and Meg, who keeps in touch with him through kything) discover that the key to the crisis lies, not in present day Vespugia, nor in Washington, but in their own town in the year 1865, for choices and actions have consequences which resonate down through history.
Like the earlier books, there is an underlying theme of the battle between good and evil, and also some spiritual lessons to be learned. The Echthroi are back, conspiring to bring about the destruction of mankind, and Charles Wallace has to learn to depend, not on his own strength or intelligence, but on the wind which guides Gaudior's wings.
Also like L'Engle's other stories, this one is difficult to classify. Her work includes traditional science fiction themes like nuclear physics, time travel and impending nuclear war, but it also includes mythological creatures (in this case, a unicorn), supernatural creatures (in this case, demons) in physical form, and spiritual battles fought on the physical plane, which would normally belong in fantasy. Greg Slade (June, 2007)
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