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From: "Dan'l Danehy-Oakes" 
Subject: RE: (urth) Re: What abos?
Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2002 14:21:37 -0700

Jerry observed that:

> Victor wasn't clumsy.  According to Marsch, he was an excellent
> camp cook (which must involve using knives, spatulas, etc.), brilliant
> with ropes, and capable of pounding tent pegs with a rock.  He just
> couldn't write in the normal way or shoot.  

Or start a fire.

Actually, here's a weird interpretation of 5HC: Suppose we presume 
that _everyone_, in all three novellas, is actually telling the truth 
-- as he sees it, for his or her own reasons? Sort of a reversal of 
the "unreliable narrator" tactic. Does this create an unworkable set 
of contradictions, or can these all be reasonably attributed to the
differences between their various perspectives?

There's a quote on my old ACE edition from (I think) Ursula K. Le Guin
(btw, has anyone else read the new Earthsea novel? I'm about halfway
through it and I think it's the best thing she's written in many years)
to the effect that 5HC is a fictional dramatization of the uncertainty 

Okay, so what does that mean? Does she mean it the way a physicist 
would mean it, i.e., that there is an absolute limit to how much you 
can know about something and if you make one aspect of it more certain
you make another aspect less certain? Or is she referring to the all
too common social scientist's misreading of the principle, the idea 
that "[the presence of] the observer affects the outcome/results of the 

I suspect that she actually means the former. Though Le Guin is not a
hard science fiction writer, she has repeatedly (and especially in THE
DISPOSSESSED) shown that she takes the trouble to understand the hard
sciences, even if she chooses to override them (i.e., the way just about 
everyone overrides the hard sciences by allowing FTL communication and/or 
travel); I'm reasonably sure she wouldn't make the error of the latter.

But then what does she mean? My initial thought is that she's saying 
that the more closely you look at any given aspect of 5HC, the more some
other aspect(s) will go out of focus. So you can develop a theory of the
whole book that doesn't get too detailed, or you can develop a theory that
explains any given aspect of it in a completely satisfying way but doesn't
fit with some other aspect(s): in short, no complete theory for
5HC may be possible.

Does this ring true?

I fear it may.



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