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Book Jacket

Trade Paperback
221 pages
May 2006
InterVarsity Press

Dark Matter: Shedding Light on Philip Pullman's Trilogy, His Dark Materials

by Tony Watkins

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt


Dark Matter by Tony Watkins is a fascinating book looking into the life and writings of author Philip Pullman, specifically his work His Dark Materials. The book is separated into three sections: the first is about Philip Pullman, the second is a summarization of His Dark Materials, and the third is an explanation/interpretation of this work and some of Pullman's other works. Tony Watkins wrote Dark Matter from a Christian viewpoint because he believes both Christians and non-Christians should know the complete background information that Pullman draws from. However, Watkins also writes from a scientific perspective clarifying the many scientific references used in Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials.

Watkins is a fan of Pullman's work but disagrees with his views and treatments of the church and Christianity. Watkins is a speaker, writer, editor and physicist; he is also an avid reader. The book is a fairly easy text to follow since it is organized well and takes on an almost story-like quality in some spots. Watkins researched his information thoroughly and quotes extensively from Pullman's works and Pullman’s public talks.

Pullman blatantly proclaims that he is an atheist and is trying to kill God or the idea of God. Watkins praises Pullman's writing abilities and good sense but flushes out the inconsistencies in Pullman's logic regarding the church and Christianity. In the book when asked by an interviewer where the sense of ought came from in a world without God,Pullman is quoted as saying:

“I'm amazed at the gall of Christians. You think that nobody can possibly be decent unless they've got the idea from God or something...Isn't it your experience that there are plenty of people in the world who don't believe who are very good, decent people?...It comes from ordinary human decency. It comes from accumulated human wisdom-which includes the wisdom of such figures as Jesus Christ. Jesus, like many of the founders of great religions, was a moral genius, and he set out a number of things very clearly in the Gospels, which if we all lived by them we'd all do much better. What a pity the Church doesn't listen to him!”

Watkins points out that while Pullman rants against the Church for being intolerant and fanatical, he seems to be what he is ranting against. I found the book to be quite thought provoking as both Pullman and Watkins make good arguments and statements about their beliefs. Watkins beautifully balances his praise and criticism of Pullman so as not to turn off his readers. I would recommend this book to anyone who has read His Dark Materials and enjoys thinking. Becky Mosolf,

Book Jacket:

"My books are about killing God."

So declares Philip Pullman, the award-winning author of the bestselling His Dark Materials trilogy of fantasy novels: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. Appealing to millions of children and adults alike, Pullman's books create a universe in which the church is the enemy and God is the master villain.

Cultural analyst Tony Watkins offers an even-handed and appreciative critique of Philip Pullman's books, exploring their religious and scientific underpinnings and highlighting their cultural and spiritual significance. Interacting deeply with Pullman's published writings and providing exclusive interview material, Watkins sheds light and insight on the worldview of one of today's most influential fantasy novelists.

Whether you are a long-time devotee or are discovering Pullman for the first time, Dark Matter is enlightening reading for fans, educators and parents alike.