leaflitter: Leaf litter (Default)
A self-assigned topic: never coming home.

There's a dynamic in the Hainish cycle I'm fascinated by, which is the people who can never go home, because during their journey everyone died and during their journey back, everyone they've spoken to on the ansible will die as well.

There's a lot of characters who are in this situation. Genly Ai (Left Hand). Solly and later Teyeo (Four Ways). Isako (Another Story). And more.

But what we don't see a lot of is the massive emotional upheaval involved in preparing for the journey. We don't often see that final moment, the moment when you walk out of the room, or shut the door, or vanish into the mountain, or disappear in a thunderclap, the moment from which you are, from the point of view of those at home, dead. (There's some mention of the Hainish version, of the seemingly very casual or at least brief Hainish traditions of "goodbye, I'm dead". What does everyone else do?)

And I think we do not see, at all, the Sleeping Beauty experience, the experience of getting on the ansible, or reading the reports that came ahead of your ship (they only need to travel at light speed to beat you there) and finding out how it was that your family died, and reading the letters they wrote to you throughout their lives, and learning the names of your great-grandchildren who are now twenty years older than you, and so on.

We see a little bit of it in reverse, in Four Ways when Yoss thinks about her daughter and grandson on the ship. But we don't see any sense that she is communicating to them, by, eg, compiling some kind of "and this is how the rest of my life went" document. (Le Guin doesn't seem to have separated family members reach out to each other every so often. See also, in The Dispossessed, how Shevek and Takver don't seem to communicate when physically separated on Anarres, let alone when he's on Urras.)

Here's some of the fascinating stories I think are in the margins (ie, good fic candidates):

Solly and Teyeo, oh my goodness. For starters, I think her characterisation is inconsistent with her backstory, which is that she's been through the entire process of "goodbye, I'm dead" twice, and has twice woken up on a new world and needed to catch up on 500 years of history. (I don't have the book with me right now, but if I recall correctly, one of those two times was "while you were asleep, the population of that world destroyed itself".) I suppose the intended characterisation is that her youth and self-confidence will get her even through that kind of challenge, but, I'm not convinced.

Then there's him, the perfect, self-reliant, honourable soldier, who has come to believe that the basis for his society and his honour is utterly bankrupt. I don't know what the journey is like after that, but I can only imagine that adding in two journeys forward in time and massive culture shock from there cannot help. (He accompanies Solly to Terra and then to Hain.) He seems to be so much a man of Werel. How does he deal with Terra at all, let alone with Terra culture shock while simultaneously dealing with whatever the news from Werel-Yeowe is?

Leaf and In Joy Born, from the "Solitude" short story in The Birthday of the World, when they wake up on Hain to find that, as they had probably expected but not hoped, Serenity (the narrator) never followed them. (This is strictly left ambiguous. As of the time of making the report, she had not followed them. But she has two children, one a daughter, on Eleven Soro, and in her cultural tradition Hain would be the seat of interstellar-scale evil sorcery. I think it's a fairly clear no.) "Solitude" is actually a letter to the future, but I can't imagine Leaf finding it anything other than a catastrophic end to her relationship with Ren, especially since it would arrive concurrently with news of her presumed death, and news of the grandchildren she can never even know of (especially the grandson).

As an aside, I find this an interesting story in another respect too, which is that I'm not sure what planetary origin the family has. They speak Hainish and talk only of Hain, and the names are more like the Hainish names we see, but if so, Ren shouldn't need external agents to control her fertility because the Hainish have it under conscious internal control. Still pondering.

O is in something of a unique position, since it's only a four year difference. That's probably why "Another Story" treats it in a fair bit of detail. It's less unimaginable, a bit equivalent to Age of Sail emotional dislocations except that if you travel O to Hain to O you not only come back at least four years behind the news but also eight years younger than you "should" be.

I'm thus also treating several aspects of this problem in my novella-in-progress at the moment, although since as usual for sedoretu stories it's a romance and comedy of manners, I can't get right into it. Spoilers )
leaflitter: Leaf litter (Default)
I'm hardly going to back out of Nanowrimo and then immediately write an entry every single day for the entire following month. No.

But I don't want to lose my fannishness without finishing the Nanonovel, so I'd like to talk Hainish cycle a bit over December. I'll do one a week. Help me fill in the weeks.

Stuff you can prompt me for: my thoughts on any of the worlds and/or stories below, and any of head canon or meta. You can get specific if you like!

Works/worlds: Another Story/Unchosen Love/Mountain Ways (O), City of Illusions and The Telling (Terra), Planet of Exile (Alterra, also called Werel), Rocannon's World (Rocannon's World), Solitude (Eleven-Soro), The Dispossessed and The Day Before the Revolution (Urras and Anarres), A Man of the People (Hain), Four Ways to Forgiveness (Yeowe and Werel), Gethen (The Left Hand of Darkness, Winter's King and Coming of Age in Karhide), Seggri (The Matter of Seggri), Aka (The Telling)

Weeks in December )
leaflitter: Nanowrimo, just keep writing (nanowrimo)
I'm attempting the first draft of a fanfic novella/novel for NaNoWriMo this year. It's more Ursula Le Guin fic; it's set on the world of O, the original setting for the sedoretu concept. There's quite a few sedoretu AUs, but not as far as I can tell any fic set on O.

I don't want to spend too much time here when I could be making word count there, but in my last big writing project (a dissertation) I did find inconsequential blogging a little bit helpful.

So, a few things.

First, I'm a bit shy of 5000 words right now, which means of course that I need to up my daily word count. As of today, it needs to be 1800.

Second, I need to work out how a technologically advanced civilisation that apparently still uses upwards of 90% of its population on agriculture and completely lacks cities works, at least to some degree. There's mention of Centers rather than cities, I'm not clear on what the distinction is. I think they may be universities without townships attached to them.

Third, why does Le Guin bother to specify in Another Story that brother-sister marriages are taboo? They're actually a special case of the moiety taboo: all siblings and half-siblings would share a moiety (absent an moiety-incest violation, even half-siblings that share a father would be born to different women who share a moiety and therefore also share that moiety). I thought for a time she meant that a brother and sister cannot be on the same side of a sedoretu, but in that very same story, that's what goes on to happen: Hideo and Koneko, full siblings, are the Evening spouses in their sedoretu. So that half-sentence bugs me every time. The moiety taboo is a society-wide sibling-marriage taboo to the point where you don't need to separately specify things.

Fourth, it seems unlikely to me that there is really no word in the ki'O language(s) for one's not-spouse, as in, the other person in the sedoretu with your own moiety. This person would be one of the most significant people in your life. They are married to the same two people as you. The potential for both teamwork and jealousy is beyond saying.

Le Guin doesn't give a word, and the Mountain Ways introduction says "The forbidden relationships are between the Morning woman and the Morning man, and between the Evening woman and the Evening man, and they aren't called anything, except sacrilege." Funny to not acknowledge the intense and fraught social relationship there, especially since that story has the only example of it shown from the point of view character. (Hideo and Koneko in Another Story, per above, are siblings already. Hadri and Sasni in Unchosen Love are never seen to speak.)

And there would be two of these highly charged non-romantic relationships in every sedoretu. It almost makes me wish my story was about an established one. Perhaps some other time.
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