Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Something/Someone Old
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In Always Coming Home, LeGuin creates a post-apocalyptic future world in "drowned California," a California which post-dates a major sea level rise. In her first note to the book, LeGuin says "The people in this book might be going to have lived a long, long time from now in northern California." In creating a post-apocalyptic future, LeGuin is standing on the heartstone and hearthstone of science fiction tradition, science fiction being a genre that has reproved humanity for its fundamental errors since the genre began with Frankenstein. But of course, since she is Ursula K. LeGuin, the post-apocalypse looks very different from your average devastated wasteland.

LeGuin writes about two different cultures that have arisen from the ashes of the apocalypse that was so long ago no one can remember it. Her narrator is Pandora, and the book is Pandora's study of one of the two cultures, the Kesh. It contains stories, oral performances and Pandora's field notes, as well as a long autobiographical section by a Kesh character named Stone Telling.

LeGuin has always carried the influence of her anthropologist father strongly within her writing; in fact, one might say that the science underlying her science fiction is anthropology more than it is physics, just as one could say that the science underlying Mary Shelley's science fiction is biology and chemistry as well as physics. This leads people to feel that such works are either not "hard" science fiction, or not real science fiction at all. This lovely young woman actually doesn't feel that the book has that science fictiony feeling, and I suspect it may be because LeGuin's science is anthropology, not (primarily) physics.

She also feels that it's too predictable, hitting the beats of feminist science fiction with too much regularity. She is reviewing the book after 32 intervening years filled with feminist science fiction good, bad, and indifferent, and by this point, those beats have been hit about a million times. At the end of her video review, she does ask readers who may have read the book in 1985 to comment on what that was like, which is great, because history matters. (I'm sure LeGuin would agree.) As someone who was 17 when this book was published, I can guarantee that while predictable in theme, at least to someone who had read many of LeGuin's other works, it was certainly neither hackneyed nor boring.

This criticism is a little bit like people in the 90s criticizing the band Boston for having a corporate sound. At the time Tom Scholz created the sound, it definitely wasn't corporate--he recorded it in his basement and had a hell of a time getting any record studio to accept his sound or the way in which he did his recording. History matters. One's position in history matters.

I believe Always Coming Home is definitely worth a read, though perhaps it's not as good as LeGuin's masterpiece The Dispossessed. (You guys have all read The Dispossessed, haven't you?)

Something New
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I know very little about new music, and very little about music based on sampling. I was a retro girl in the 80s, and mostly stopped listening to new music about 15 years ago (though I'm willing to learn!)

This, by Canadian artist Dan Snaith, producing under the name Caribou for the first time in five years, is actually sweet and delicate without being shallow or insipid:

Something Borrowed
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This is an absolutely wonderful cover of Steve Winwood's "Can't Find My Way Home." I had no idea that Bonnie Raitt and Lowell George of Little Feat covered this. This is a wonderful bootleg. Please wait through all the tuning and talking because the music is lovely and well worth it. And anyway, Bonnie Raitt is charming.

Something Blue
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You may have noticed that today's word of the day is "home." Smile

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Comments

Then where do the homeless hats hang?
Thanks for the thoughtful theme.

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May we be united and strong -- laurel

Alligator Ed's picture

@QMS where hats belong.

And, on the same topic, a house is not a home.

Home is where the heart is.

Does a homeboy ever leave home?

Is being homely a desirable thing?

You can't go home again

Stealing home is a good thing in baseball.

Can a person be home for the holidays if she lives in a house trailer?

Does home on the range mean someone lives atop a stove?

Where does a homing pigeon roost?

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Alligator Ed

doesn't mean that you live on a stove. Smile

But you're very right that a house does not necessarily=a home.

Some houses are homes and some homes are houses. Some houses are definitely not homes.

I don't know how to draw Venn diagrams online, but y'all get the idea.

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Alligator Ed

but then, I'd thought the Canada geese were extinct.

Funny story. I was driving Kate one day when we lived in Jacksonville. Kate is low vision and her vision was worse then than it is now (the improvement is due to a wonderful surgeon at Johns Hopkins). I told her about a flock of grand birds and said I didn't know what they were. She asked me to describe them and I did. She said "CSTMS--those are *Canada geese*" (in a tone like I should have known such a simple thing). I said, "I thought they were extinct!" She said, "Oh, no, they were in trouble for a while, but they've really come back."

My response to this was to say "That's great!" and give a thumbs-up to the Canada geese. The Canada geese, obviously, had no idea what this strange monkey-gesture was.

Neither did the driver in the next lane, who stared at this stranger giving him the thumbs-up in complete bafflement.

Smile

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

lotlizard's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal  
where there’s a nature preserve next door to Philly airport.

https://www.fws.gov/refuge/John_Heinz/

I was enthusiastic, but the guide smiled and said that particular flock of Canadas were becoming kind of a pest, no longer bothering to fly south for the winter but hanging around and opportunistically adapting to the human urban environment.

My, how time flies! Now that I think of it, this would have been around 15 years ago.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@QMS

but I'd answer "On the Earth."

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

WoodsDweller's picture

It must have been soon after it was published that I read it. Wonderful little book. Thanks for reminding me of it.

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"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Albert Bartlett

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@WoodsDweller

It's always a good time to read LeGuin.

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

Cassiodorus's picture

but it doesn't surprise me that an ecologically-minded society, an ecotopia, is basically a post-apocalypse story. People don't believe the narrative of Callenbach's Ecotopia Emerging, but nobody has anything better. So the science fiction writers all feel obliged to imagine some sort of disaster to eliminate the current civilization altogether, as a prerequisite for ecotopia.

We are back to Kim Stanley Robinson's idea that it's easy to do dystopia but not so easy to imagine a future in which the human race does it right.

If you want to see the "in for a penny, in for a pound" approach, you can read Margaret Atwood's Maddaddam trilogy. Atwood can imagine a "perfect" society (this is her definition of utopia, not mine), but the people in it are genetically engineered and the old-model people have for the most part been wiped out by a pandemic. Grimly enough, Atwood takes the reader through the entire process -- the dystopian degeneration of our society, the climate disaster, the pandemic, the genetic engineering, the singing and purring and eating and sexual episodes of the genetically-engineered human beings. We meet the creator of the genetically-engineered human race and the pandemic and we watch has he's murdered by his best friend. Atwood did not shy away from having the readers take a look under the hood.

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"Neither time nor cognitive decline has, however, has calmed (Biden's) blood lust or a lifelong commitment to planetary collapse." -- Jennifer Matsui

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Cassiodorus

better than Roddenberry. Star Trek is silly, as even most of its passionate fans will acknowledge--but it's also not silly at all, but deals decisively with most of the obstructions humans place in the way of "doing it right."

That's why I have Q in my sig.

Q: "Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men."

Picard: "What? That nonsense is centuries behind us."

I'll admit that Roddenberry conveniently jumped over the transitional period from where we are to where the Federation is. We do get some information on it, and some of it is very ugly. Canon is that contact with the Vulcans gave humanity the needed boost at the right time to take the right path. At least, that's what canon was back when I still paid attention to Star Trek, in the days before DisneyCorp decided to put the story up against the wall and slap it around.

But your point is sensible--it's undeniably very hard for humanity to imagine how to get out of this to something better without an intervening apocalypse. Perhaps that's the problem.

LeGuin herself said that, while it seems impossible to defeat capital, it used to seem impossible to defeat monarchy, and that keeping the *idea* of freedom (and, I think she's implying, multiple possibilities for the future) alive is paramount in importance.

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Actually, the issue at stake is patriotism. You must return to your world and put an end to the Commies. All it takes are a few good men.
--Q

Exit polls not involving George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton tend to be quite accurate.
--Doug Hatlem

Cassiodorus's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal for the imagined Star Trek "history" is Star Trek: First Contact, no?

Also, one attempt to depict the human race "getting it right" would have to be Cory Doctorow's Walkaway, though Walkaway might use a bit more in terms of detail?

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"Neither time nor cognitive decline has, however, has calmed (Biden's) blood lust or a lifelong commitment to planetary collapse." -- Jennifer Matsui

Lily O Lady's picture

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"