Friday, November 12, 2010

Base Tranquility

The final chapter of Church & State II.

George gives Cerebus his version of the space race. It's actually quite a complete description and it's current up to when the chapter was written. These chapters, talking about events in the history of the world we know were interesting in that they acknowledge that there is a real world, but they don't say that the world in which Cerebus lives isn't real. Most fantasies create their own worlds, this one seems to have a world that exists in some sort of strange parallel to our own, but never really intrudes upon it.

At the end of this George unleases the kicker. Because Cerebus has been absent from Iest and the deadline he had set for the end of the world came and went without incident his followers deserted him. Cirin and her mercenary forces took Lower Felda and all of Iest, including Cerebus' gold. This is when the line that resonates for years through the books comes: You live only a few more years. You die alone. Unmourned. And unloved. I get a shiver down my spine reading and writing that. How would that feel? Being told that your death is imminent. You will be alone and no one will care. George can't just leave it there, though. He has a parting shot for the former Pope. He'll suffer and if he's ever tempted to consider it unjustified, remember his second marriage. OUCH!

George wanders away into the darkness and Cerebus finds himself standing in the courtyard of the hotel. He is alone. Not a soul there. The giant rock skulls on the mountain above the courtyard have destroyed at least one building and damaged others. They have gouged holes into the courtyard itself.

What happens next?

I always seem to struggle with the last part of Church & State II. I must have read it about 4 times now and it's always a tough read. I'm not sure why, maybe George's endless lecturing doesn't hold a lot of interest for me, possibly it's because of the darkness of the landscape which gives the narrative an oppressing feel. I think the author took a huge chance by 'revealing' the ending. I'm not sure what issue Base Tranquility was, but it was a long way from #300. Readers now know that Cerebus dies alone, unloved and unmourned. What reason is there to keep reading? Of course George could be lying or just plain wrong. Then again is George even real? He could have been some figment of Cerebus' somewhat agitated mind at the time. I know that despite what George tells Cerebus I had no intenttion of stopping reading at that point.


  1. You mention how Estarcion's future talks about history in our world, and how Estarcion seems to have existed in a world "parallel to our own, but never really intrudes upon it." What about the dopplengangers - so far of Groucho Marx / Lord Julius, Rodney Dangerfield / Lord Rodney, Mick Jagger / Prince Mick, et al. have existed in that world's history. Perhaps that world is more like an echo of this world (or vice versa)?

    Also - this ascension by Cerebus reminds me of the baby throwing scene: you can get what you want and still not be happy. Cerebus got his ascension, but still wasn't very happy.

  2. Margaret thanks for your comment. I never knew that Lord Rodney was Rodney Dangerfield I can see it now you've mentioned it. Dangerfield never really had a huge profile down here in Australia, so I never picked up on it. It's an interesting point that there are doppelgangers from our world in Estarcion, but they're not the real people, they exist at odds to their actual timelines in our world and they're the public personas that we see them as. It's possible that Cerebus' Estarcion is some kind of alternate earth.
    There is definitely a parallel between Cerebus' ascension and throwing the baby and it's an excellent point.