Night Watch

Author: Sergei Lukyanenko
Year: 1998
Genre: Fantasy

On the question of good versus evil, most science fiction takes the line of Spider-Man: with great power comes great responsibility ... and it's not hard to figure out where that responsibility lies. Night Watch presents a different point of view. In between fast-paced magical action scenes and suspenseful vampire-stalking, its hero frets over exactly what it means to be an agent of the Light.

This question is particularly difficult in a world where Good and Evil coexist under an uneasy truce. Their Treaty allows every good action by an agent of the Light to be countered by an evil action by the Dark, so there is no real gain. Besides, helping one person could cause unintended harm to others down the line. For that reason, the forces of Light attempt to maintain the status quo while their bosses quietly engineer social revolutions in the background. Only by such drastic means, they believe, can they gain a decisive advantage over Evil. The only problem is that it's never worked before ...

Something about this combination seems characteristically Russian to me. Of course, we associate Russia with fat novels full of implacable moral obscurity; I guess Lukyanenko is like a cross between Dostoyevsky and Joss Whedon.

I can't imagine how well that comes out in the movie, though (not to mention the video game). I've heard the movie compared to The Matrix, which, for all its supposed philosophical symbolism, looked to me like just another action flick.

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