Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ursula Leguin. The Compass Rose (1982)

     Ursula Leguin. The Compass Rose (1982) This collection of short stories displays a range of fantasy, psychology, naturalism, realism, satire, and more, that one does not expect after reading Leguin’s more conventional novels. But whatever mode or genre she chooses, Leguin manages to make the central character real to us: the naive, task-centred young psychiatrist who treats a political “patient” in a near-future fascist state, and slowly comes to understand the nature of the oppression that she serves, is especially well-done (The Diary of the Rose). But even the most strange notions, such as that all worlds are the dreams of souls who don’t know they are dreaming (The Pathways of Desire), and that our objective reality results from our dream-selves becoming independent of the dreamer, is made plausible because the characters in the story come to that insight. By keeping her narrator strictly objective, Leguin presents us with what the characters know and understand, which makes us take on their p.o.v., and by the time we realise how fantastic is the idea that Leguin is working out, we’re hooked, and believe it – at least while we read the story. *** (2010)

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