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The Found and the Lost: The Collected Novellas of Ursula K. Le Guin
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The Found & the Lost discussion > "Paradises Lost" by Ursula K. Le Guin

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message 1: by G33z3r, Old Man Yelling at Clouds (last edited Mar 10, 2018 06:34PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

G33z3r | 8819 comments This is our discussion of the short story....

"Paradises Lost" by Ursula K. Le Guin

(originally published 2002. The Birthday of the World and Other Stories)

From the anthology The Found and the Lost: The Collected Novellas of Ursula K. Le Guin by Ursula K. Le Guin. See The Found and the Lost anthology discussion hub for more info on the anthology and pointers to discussion of its other stories.


message 2: by G33z3r, Old Man Yelling at Clouds (new) - rated it 5 stars

G33z3r | 8819 comments I really liked this novella. I liked its storyline and its thought process, its characters and especially its prose, especially the first half. It's a marvelous construction. It's also one of the stories in this collection that I hadn't read before, and very glad I did now.

A generation ship, now in its 6th generation, en-route to a distant planetary system it should reach in another ~60 years, the story taking place over a couple of decades.

I like the section "Privative Definition", right down to its title. Explaining what's on the ship in Earth terms, based on what isn't there. Namely, no animal life except the humans.
If Nothing Is Very Different from You, What Is a Little Different from You Is Very Different from You

I enjoyed young Hsing's thoughts on maybe becoming a poet when she grows up:
Instead of little short weird obscure poems like Eli’s, she would write a great narrative poem about— actually the problem was what should it be about. It could be a great historical epic about the Zero Generation. It would be called Genesis. For a week she was excited, thinking about it all the time. But to do it she’d really have to learn all the history that she was sort of gliding through in History, she’d have to read hundreds of books. And she’d have to really go into V-Dichew to feel what it had been like to live there. It would all take years before she could even start writing it.

Maybe she could write love poems.
It's humorous, a sort of "that's too hard" giving up; and also likely a statement by the author on what's needed to write fiction well.


Some musings on Generation Zero's legacy:
“How will they forgive us?” she mourned. “We who took the world from them before they were ever born— we who took the seas, the mountains, the meadowlands, the cities, the sunlight from them, all their birthright? We have left them trapped in a cage, a tin can, a specimen box, to live and die like laboratory rats and never see the moon, never run across a field, never know what freedom is!”
Every parent makes choices their children are forced to deal with, at least while still children, such as where they choose to live. But few modern parents make choices that define their children's entire destiny.
We of the middle generations have no goal except to stay alive and keep the ship running and on course, and to achieve it all we have to do is follow the rules— the Constitution. The Zeroes saw that as an important duty, a high obligation, because they saw it as an element of the whole voyage— the means glorified by the end. But for those who won’t see the end, there’s not much glory being the means. Self-preservation seems self-centered.


Eventually, as they grow older, Hsing her friend Liu begin to wonder just what preparations were made for their expected colonization of the world they will find at the end of the journey. How can parents prepare children for something they know nothing about:
“But a generation that knows only how to travel— can they teach a generation how to arrive?”


Le Guin goes on to detail how unprepared "colonists" born and raised entirely in an enclosed, mostly automated environment, are untrained in many of the skills for living on a "dirt ball". When they arrive, she observes, many of the common (to us) words used in the instruction manual have lost meaning, because they have no purpose on the starship. Drainage, latrines, water supply, and a rather humorous observation about why you don't light a fire inside a tent.


Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments This novella was new to me, and I loved it. Maybe the best one of the whole collection.


message 4: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 2350 comments I really enjoyed it too. I liked the parts where the colonist have to deal with all the new sensations of the real world, like wind, or being cold. Things we take so much for granted but would be bizarre and even terrifying sensations to someone who is new to them.

And the reverse, the first generation apologizes for the middle generations that have to live stuck in that tin can, but since those generations don't know any different, that's their life and they are used to it and are comfortable with it and as the story evolves, we find that not everyone wants to change it.


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