Another Story or A Fisherman of the Inland Sea by Ursula K. Le Guin
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 1.5/5 Rating
About the author:
Ursula K. Le Guin is an American writer and general fiction, she has published twenty-one novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry, and four books in translation. Le Guin has received many honors and awards including the Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, and PEN-Malamud. Her most recent publications are Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems, 1960–2010 and The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories. “Another Story” was first published in Tomorrow in 1994.
I’m giving you a warning now, I have nothing positive to say about this short story. Last weeks story (my review), I did have problems with it, but those were after the fact; while I was actually reading it, I was enjoying the story. This story, though… I have no idea what to say. I waited a couple days to see if maybe the story would grow on me, or I could think of some good things say, but NO. The longer I wait to write this, the worse this story becomes.
The story is presented as a letter from Hideo, the narrator, to someone named Gvonesh. Then for the next 10 pages(!!!!) we have to listen to Hideo describe the culture of his planet, how marriages work on his planet, and story about a fisherman. (That’s how he starts a letter off) It was not easy to follow either – the history of how things work on the planet. It is very complex, and can be difficulty to understand. But, you know what the best about this and that struggle was? IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PLOT!!! ZIP. ZERO. NADA. Yeah great-world building, but it was not relevant! It literally says, “So, then: I have come to the time I chose to begin my story…” after these 10 pages of non-sense.
Here is the TL;DR: Hideo has two moms and two dads,
depending if you wake up in the evening or morning, you mom and their kids have different names (actually, that has no relevance to the plot, either), Hideo really likes one girl, and his mom tells a story about a fisherman that represents how she feels. BAM! Just saved you 10 days of meaninglessness reading, and now you can read the last 15 pages of the story. But don’t get excited, yet. The frustration continued here.
What I just said above, you don’t actually realize that the beginning had nothing to do with anything until you get to “So, then: I have come to the time I chose to begin my story…” and read past it. That’s when the “real” story starts and we learn about Hideo as he gets to school and learns about different ways space transportations happens between planets.
There are actually two forms of time-travel. The first one is the time-travel that’s possible today. When astronauts go into space, they actually age slightly slower. In this story, they have near light speed travel. So, when they travel distance hundreds of lights years away – while they may age of a few days or years depending on the distance, the rest of the universe will age tens to hundreds of years. But did Ursula bother to mention this? Nope. I already knew this, but I’m willing to bet that not every reader does.
Then in the real story – after the 10 page slog-fest – nothing made sense because we are using key words and terminology, and locations and organizations that is never explained. I was able to follow the gist of the story with Hideo right here, but I still trying figure out what it had to do with the complex, elaborated, and detailed history we got of his home planet to start! We got 10 pages on how marriage works, but never once did I get a little info about the transportation or the technology that goes with it. Nah, that’s only relevant to the plot.
The one redeeming quality this story almost had, was the actual time-travel occurrence. When this caught my eye, I actually sat up reading because I got so excited something was about to happen. (Which was at about I think 5 pages left?) Immediately, theories start running through my head: I think about what happened in the story, what I means now. I listen to Hideo’s theories – which was leaving us to believe on thing! – compare them with mine, and then the moment comes that will prove it right or wrong…! And Hideo does’t even focus on it; not even a sentence to what this means. He told me 10 pages of how marriage systems works, and then another 10 of him studying space-travel, but when we actually get to explaining if he went back in time to his own time-line or to a new one, he doesn’t care to elaborate on that.
And also, the reactions of Hideo and other people when the time-travel incident? What? NO. I hate to say this, but this story – so much about it and how it was told – is just bad 😦
Spolierific Speculations: (Highlight to read)
Hideo first led us to believe that the message he first translated at work, was maybe that message he sent went he travelled back in time. Which I thought would be awesome because this would mean that when he visited, everybody he saw would have been faking, and the guy who married Isdiri, would actually have been him!!!! Or him writing and sending that letter would have explained why his employers were so eager and excited when he first suggest that he go back to his home planet and set up some stuff to keep working. He was surprised at this, but they were excited because it matches the letter they got!! THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN AWESOME
The man Isdiri is supposed marry even came and went from the town. I thought that was where Hideo got the alias name to use for when his other self came to visit. But no, Hideo’s other self never comes back home on that day he was supposed to return, and doesn’t even bother to dwell or elaborate on this.
Preston, if you gave this story a 10/10 I don’t even know 😛
If your comments contains a spoiler, please type “SPOILER:” at the start of your comment to alert fellow readers and comments. Thanks!
I know there was a message in this story, and again time-travel was a backdrop to drop, but it was completely lost in this mess of how the story was told.
No, I don’t even want to talk about this anymore. I know there is a lot I left out, but it was be more negative, and nobody wants to read that.
This story is 27 pages long, and, oh man, did every one of them pages hurt. Starting with struggle to understand the how the planet to work, then to realize it has nothing to with the plot, then for the meat of the story to have problems too – which I wont even bother addressing also – to the ending which I forgot was, until I just opened my book again.
Read some other reviews from the people bellow, maybe they can better explain what was happening.
Be sure to check out my fellow time-travelers’ reviews!
Preston Leigh’s Leighgendarium
Timothy C. Ward
Follow along on Twitter with #TimeTravelThursday
To see a full list of The Time Traveler’s Almanac reviews and reading schedule, visit The Time Traveler’s Almanac Page
Feel free to join in any join time! Just leave a comment down below 🙂
See you next Thursday for Ripples in the Dirac Sea by Geoffrey A. Landis
Date Read: 09/21/15 - 09/21/15 Review Written: 0/23/15
Wow, I’m surprised you finished it! 27 pages seems long for a short story anyway, but reading one that doesn’t do anything for you sounds like torture. I hope the next story is better!
I read this outside in the the Sun. So, getting one last tan before fall officially hits was my key motivator to keep reading 😛 I am also one of those people who are incapable of a DNF.
There was a couple people who did really like this story, though!
I actually loved her descriptions and thought that they showed us, rather than told us, what the people in his life, what his home, what his family meant to him. I think it would have done that if they were a little shorter, too, but I enjoyed feeling like I was right there, like he had something really good to lose. I understand when others don’t like that, but I’m a Charles Dickens type person: details that flesh out the story, whether pertinent to the plot or not, are my jam. 🙂 Hopefully next week is one you can get on board with.
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And that’s why you’re awesome, HM 😉
I had to crawl to the finish line on this one.
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Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE detailed world-buidling. Epic fantasy is my favorite, so I love hearing about about the market square and what the color the the shutters are on the corner shop. They help to give the culture of each new town and city, but they only last a couple sentences and aren’t repeated unless we go to a new town.
I didn’t have problem with Ursula telling us that info, but, yeah, it was just too much of it for my taste. At least for the beginning of the story.
What can I say, DJ? You and I are >>>HERE<<< on this one. I think I would've enjoyed it more if it had started with Hideo at the lab doing the research and then a light weaving-in of his home/society's backdrop.
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Yeah, ff she had just split that info out, or at least not had 10 pages of if straight to start the story, I may have been more accepting of it.
Oh dear – this really wasnt for you. I meant to join in with this this week and completely forgot – and now I’m kind of glad that I did.
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While HM really like it – I’d recommend look at her review – I am very happy you didn’t choose this story start to read along. I’d enjoyed every other story so far, so I, personally, don’t think it represents the quality of the rest of the work.
Hope I’ll see you next week though! That story is only like 6 pages. Not that shorter is better, but I would prefer a short one after this week XD
Yiiiiiikes. I went ahead and read the spoiler because there’s probably no chance I’ll ever read this story. For a book about which you have absolutely nothing positive to say, I was a bit amused you were generous enough with that 0.5 stars though, lol! 😉
1 star is reserved books that I feel are just AWFUL. I originally gave this a 2 – I didn’t like it – but I thought about it more, and I just couldn’t ignore that were some serious problems with the story, that I actually thought were bad.
Yeah the spoilers were with actually time-travel aspect, but no else seemed to mention that in their review Oh, well
I find it extreme torture to read anything written by URSULA K. LE GUIN. Thickly packed mind-numbing verbiage and never ending descriptions of artificially and ineptly made up cultures and characters do not make a story. ANOTHER STORY OR A FISHERMAN OF THE INLAND SEA is no exception.