I just finished reading “The Lathe of Heaven” by Ursula Le Guin, my first excursion into science fiction. I decided to give a try to this genre after several visits to Mrs. LeGuin’s blog, which inspired me to declare her as my blogger muse.
The plot evolves on dual time tracks and alternate universes, leaving me perplexed. Mrs. LeGuin published the book in 1971, while the actual present of the story seems to occur in the early part of the second millennia, thus being in our past. Tenuous, permeable lines distinguish between present, past and future. This started me wondering about time. The present is now the past as I write, yet it was once the future.
The story overwhelms with a plethora of man-made disasters: pollution, the greenhouse effect, continuous wars, overpopulation, famine and riots; and natural disasters: volcanic eruptions, plagues. It’s frightening to accept that this scenario is our recent past and our present. Must our future be more of the same?
Rain, thunder and lightning visited us some days ago. A welcome rain, but short-lived. In Chile’s dry, Atacama Desert region in the north, the driest in the world, entire small town neighborhoods were wiped out by sudden torrential rainfall and massive mud slides. While in the southern, water-deprived rainforests, a massive fire rages, requiring importation of firefighters from neighboring countries. Earlier in the month, the Villarrica Volcano flared up into a fiery eruption. All this in the month of March. It’s beginning to look like LeGuin’s world. I feel the future rushing towards us like a fast-moving train. World events reinforce that sensation.
In the story’s present all the world’s mountains have lost their eternal snows, even Mount Erebus, an active volcano in Antarctica. Soon hubby and I are heading to Patagonia where we’ll cruise the gelid fjords flanked by receding glaciers, amidst ice floes and marine wildlife. The Darwin cordillera alone has at least six hundred glaciers, some still unnamed. I hope Ursula LeGuin was mistaken in her vision of a future with bare, glacier- less mountain ranges. If this excursion could take me into a science fiction world, I might be able to hear the glaciers’ whisperings and advice on their preservation.
I will pay close attention.