Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb

Book review/rant

We're unpacking books. Okay, my husband is unpacking books. We have boxes and boxes of them since we moved about a month ago and these things take time, especially when you're chronically short of bookcases, and we had sixty boxes of them

This means that as he shelves, and as we go through each box for a final weeding, we discover books we'd thought we'd lost or forgotten we'd owned. This is, of course, very cool, because it's like discovering all new books - and we didn't even have to buy them

So, the book I just discovered and reread was Earthsong by Suzette Hayden Elgin.

Earthsong is the third chapter in the "Native Tongue", which postulates a universe where language rules. It's also a world where women are legally minors and have been since Reagan-Bush. The first two, Native Tongue and The Judas Rose, are good books, I've worn out my copies - enough that I can also catalog their flaws in great detail. And they do have flaws, but at this point I don't worry about them.

Earthsong was written a decade later. A woman in this oppressive society is told by her dead greatgrandmother to end hunger. After extensive research, the woman comes up the solution - "audiosynthesis." After all, if plants can use light to create their own food, why shouldn't humans use sound for the same purpose? After all, perception is perception, whether it be sight, hearing, touch or taste, right?

She bases this on the idea that some religious communities dedicated to chant eat practically nothing.

As you can imagine, this was a difficult hurdle for me to get over. I can suspend my disbelief with the best of them, but I simply had to consider this magic to do it this time. Sound waves are very low energy when compared to light, They are also mechanical and produce mechanical reactions. Light is made of photons as well as waves and produces chemical reactions, and it is the chemical reactions we need to live. More than that - it's possible that one's own singing is sufficient for a snack at least, and that smacks of perpetual motion.

The rest of the story leapfrogs over centuries and over planets. It works, but barely, and the men are particularly stupid or venial or, at best, clueless. The smarter ones know to listen to their wives or let themselves be manipulated. The earlier ones maintain a much more consistent storyline and the action takes place over someone's lifetime. Not perfect, but better.

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