Boris Smus

interaction engineering

The Wind's Twelve Quarters by Ursula K. Le Guin

Each short story explores a novel premise that is vaguely science-fictiony. But Le Guin's writings favor soft over hard sci-fi, rarely delving into Asimovesque "gadgeting", mostly focusing on the romantic: emotions, relationships, feelings. Some of my favorites from the book:

April in Paris: interesting fantasy/sci-fi exploration of the same place over time. It gets a bit silly in the end, but very memorable. Her obsession with archaeology is very apparent.

The Masters: the intersection between religion and technology is just always fascinating. Reminded me a bit of one of my favorites: Canticle for Leibowitz

The Rule of Names: riffing on an interesting premise: nobody is allowed to reveal your name to anyone. Pure fantasy with wizards.

Nine Lives: what happens when you grow up with/as a group of clones? What's it like? How do you(s) interact with the world and others? What happens if your group is split? Fascinating premise and great execution.

Some of her other stories are much less focused on a sci-fi premise, and more focused on a mental trip and human psychology. She calls them psychomyths.

The Good Trip: close to my heart at the moment, as I worry about my life and wife. I didn't realize Le Guin was from Portland. How cool!

A Trip to the Head: what if you lost your identity completely (terrifying), but had the ability to pick one arbitrarily? Not particularly good, but reminded me of some vague but unpleasant thoughts I had about VR.

I wonder if sf writers write with their future audience in mind. Like how would their books read after we actually have become an interplanetary species?"