Around them they could hear the uneasy breathing of the city. An ambulance wailed. There was a sound that might have been gunfire, or a car’s muffler backfiring. Horns honked. Brakes screeched. Tires screamed. There was the distant wail of a child. “The sound of terror, Canon,” the Bishop said. “Listen. It has become the same in every city in the world. All our churches, all our police force, firemen, amublances, relief agencies, are waging a losing battle against the plague of violence that has stricken our cities. But now: imagine that someone has a Micro-Ray. He can take the most hardened criminal; he can the touch his brain with controlled light in such a way that the man can become a lunatic, even worse than he already is, or docile as a little child.”
“But that’s monstrous,” the Canon said.
“It can be. Misused, it is. Or misunderstood, as Austin fails to misunderstand it. But now think. Think of the possibilities. Think of taking a vicious degenerate, someone whose willful descent into evil has made him subhuman in every way. A brief and painless touch by the Micro-Ray can turn him into a happy law-abiding citizen. What do you think of that?”
For a long moment Tallis did not answer. Then he said, “My Lord, I think that is monstrous too.”
Every break from school that lasts longer than three days automatically gets marked off in my brain as L'Engle rereading time. I read A Wrinkle in Time at seven and The Young Unicorns at eight and things just snowballed (is there a tropical-country equivalent for that term) from there; my internal landscape is somehow fifty percent Discworld, fifty percent The Count of Monte Cristo, and one hundred percent Madeleine L'Engle. Finding out that someone grew up with her books too is like finding someone from same primary school or hometown- you can rattle on all you want about faults and flaws and favorites and waves of nostalgia knowing you have the same thing to stand on, the same points of reference; you can go on about how she is aware and critical of but still falls into the Noble Savage trap because you know they share the burn of when someone you love does something incredibly stupid (I mean, you go on about it anyway? but I still get the impulse to say the words not that bad, like not that bad is supposed to make things better). I don't know what the point of all this is, just that her books are at the point where science fiction meets fantasy and are completely unlike anything else of either genre, that A Swiftly Tilting Planet without intending to do so made all other time-travel narratives seem one-note and simplistic and boring, that everything she writes is suffused with wonder at math and science and people and this universe's worth of possibility.
ETA: (Advanced, if appropriate) Happy New Year to you all! Eat your round things, don't forget to jump, and enjoy all your firecrackers, who needs ten fingers anyway. I hope 2013 treats you well. :D