CRAFT STUDIO: THE LATHE OF HEAVEN BY URSULA K. LE GUIN
What I was Reading: The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin
“In a future world racked by violence and environmental catastrophes, George Orr wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist who immediately grasps the power George wields. Soon George must preserve reality itself as Dr. Haber becomes adept at manipulating George’s dreams for his own purposes.
The Lathe of Heaven is an eerily prescient novel from award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin that masterfully addresses the dangers of power and humanity’s self-destructiveness, questioning the nature of reality itself. It is a classic of the science fiction genre.” – https://www.ursulakleguin.com/the-lathe-of-heaven
The novel starts with the following three paragraphs:
Current-borne, wave-flung, tugged hugely by the whole might of ocean, the jellyfish drifts in the tidal abyss. The light shines through it, and the dark enters it. Borne, flung, tugged from anywhere to anywhere, for in the deep sea there is no compass but nearer and farther, higher and lower, the jellyfish hangs and sways; pulses move slight and quick within it, as the vast diurnal pulses beat in the moon-driven sea. Hanging, swaying, pulsing, the most vulnerable and insubstantial creature, it has for its defense the violence and power of the whole ocean, to which it has entrusted its being, its going, and its will.
But here rise the stubborn continents. The shelves of gravel and the cliffs of rock break from water baldly into air, that dry, terrible outer space of radiance and instability, where there is no support for life. And now, now the currents mislead and the waves betray, breaking their endless circle, to leap up in loud foam against rock and air, breaking…
What will the creature made all of sea-drift do on the dry sand of daylight; what will the mind do, each morning, waking?
What Moves I Notice the Author Making:
- The use of metaphor (the jellyfish) to set up the premise of the novel. I have to admit that this was a bit jarring when I read on and realized that the book was about a dystopian future society. However, I kept thinking of the jellyfish as I was reading – so it was a very effective lead.
- The use of hyphens – current-borne, wave-flung (see our conventions inquiry on compound modifiers for more mentor texts to study)
- The vocabulary in these paragraphs could be studied for days. (diurnal, radiance, insubstantial, for example)
- Repetition – the use of borne, flung, tugged in both the first and second sentences. The use of hang, sway, pulse in two sentences as well. And the repetition happens in the sentence immediately following, not later on.
- The first paragraph is describing the jellyfish, the second paragraph is describing the obstacles and the third is questioning if the jellyfish will be able to cope with such change.
- The second sentence in the first paragraph has a semi-colon. It is a wonderful sentence to look at carefully.
- The last paragraph is one sentence, in the form of a question. It includes a semi-colon that joins two sentences.
- The sentence lengths are varied.
- The second paragraph ends with an ellipse.
Possibilities for Writers:
- Try the repetition of the words from one sentence to the next.
- Try using the some of the vocabulary.
- Try writing with semicolons, using the sentences in the first and last paragraphs as mentors.
- Try to vary sentence lengths.
- Try to use ellipses.