A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978) – Madeleine L’Engle

The third book in the Wrinkle in Time series is quite possibly my favourite of the lot so far. Set some years after the previous tale, A Wind in the Door, it was nice to catch up with the Murry family again.

Meg is now married to Calvin, and is pregnant, the twins are continuing their education, and young Charles Wallace has now turned fifteen. He is at the crux of the story this time, when Meg’s mother-in-law lays a charge on him.

Mr. Murry has received a call from the President, warning him of the actions of a dictator in South America, and nuclear war seems imminent. The family comes together, on a cold Thanksgiving eve, to worry together, and Mrs. O’Keefe, Calvin’s mother, joins them.

It is here that she charges Charles Wallace with stopping the dictator, and giving him an ancient rune to use. Charles Wallace soon finds him on the most engaging temporal adventure yet, accompanied by the unicorn, Gaudoir who can travel through both space and time.

But the Ecthroi are out there and plan to stop our young hero, who dives into people’s consciousness throughout time, discovering might-have-beens, joy and the potential for change.

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I quite liked this tale, as it illustrates the interconnectedness of all things, whether we as a species choose to see it or not. It also tells us to take joy in life, to let go of anger, and give in to love. And the thing I liked most about, the idea that the present can not only affect the future, but can affect the past as well, as if it too were all interconnected, and happening at once.

Despite being the main character in this tale, Charles Wallace isn’t in the tale a lot. Instead we dive into vignettes and short stories of the lives of the people he joins with, and tweaks their lives just so for the better, all to insure that a nuclear disaster, and the extinction of man is avoided.

The hints of Christian theology are nudged gently to the side this time around, giving way to a moral theology – one of right, good, and joy, a love and acceptance of our fellows no matter who they are.

It also conveys the belief that everyone matters, everything has its purpose, and we can recognise it and embrace the joy it offers us, or succumb to greed, and the hunger for power at the expense of our own humanity.

This was a highly enjoyable tale, and I can’t believe I had never explored these stories before…

Have you read them?

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