Ninety-Nine Weeks: A Fairy Tale

Ursula K. Le Guin -- Photo by Marian Wood Kolischby Ursula K. Le Guin

Once upon a time there was a poor woodcutter who lived with his wife and their daughter and son in a cottage at the edge of a forest. He loved his trade, and worked hard at it. But most of the land belonged to rich ogres, who kept the forests for their own use. Firewood was so expensive that ordinary people had begun to heat their houses with coal. The woodcutter went from door to door offering timber or firewood, but again and again he was turned away. His wife was lame and could not walk far, though she worked hard and well, keeping the kitchen garden and the house. The daughter and son went to the village school. Young Janet looked after the mayor’s wife’s babies every afternoon when school was out, and young Bob earned a penny here and there doing odd jobs. That bit of money the children could bring home was all the family had now, and every penny had to go for rent to their ogre landlord. They had no new clothes or shoes, and ate only from their garden. Their life had grown hard, and winter was coming on.

“Maybe you could get a job at the coal mine, John,” said the woodcutter’s wife.

So he went up the road ten miles to the coal mines and asked for work, but, as he had feared, they told him he was too old to learn that craft, and sent him off.

He trudged homeward, downhearted, though he was by nature a hopeful man. Evening was coming on. Shadows fell across the road. Among the shadows he saw a tall, beautiful woman standing. “Woodcutter,” she said, “be of good cheer! I am your Gift Fairy, and I will give you and your family enough to live on. You will have food, and can buy shoes for your son and daughter!”

“Gracious lady,” said the woodcutter, “you are very kind. What can I do to deserve such a gift?”

“To deserve my gift, woodcutter, you must not work, but every day you must look for work,” said the lady. “You must try four times a day to find a job. No matter if there is no work to be found, you must not stop looking for it. I will be watching you. I will know if you grow discouraged. If you cease to look for work for one month, I will know it, and my gift will cease to appear.”

“Lady,” said the woodcutter, “I’d be glad to have work, but if I ask for a job four times every day in the village, I’ll be going to the same people all the time, because it’s a small village, and they’ll get sick of me.”

“That is not my concern,” said the lady.

“Could you maybe, instead of giving me money, give me some kind of job — any kind?” said the woodcutter, who, as we know, was a hopeful man. “I’m not too old to learn a new craft, and I’ll turn my hand to anything.”

“That is not my department,” said the lady. “The Works Fairies are not functioning at present. All I can offer you is my gift, on the terms I have told you.”

“I accept,” said the woodcutter, with a sigh, “and my family and I are grateful.”

“That is proper,” said the tall woman, and she vanished into the long shadows of the evening.

The woodcutter went home. As he came to his house he happened to put his hand in his pocket, and felt something there, and drew it forth, and lo and behold! it was a silver coin, enough for them to live on for a week. So he went in, and his wife and children gathered round him asking eagerly, “Did you get the job at the mines, Dad?”

“No, they won’t have me,” said he, “but I met a magic lady and she gave me this,” and he tossed the silver coin up spinning in the air. And while they passed it around and admired it and wondered at it, he told them that the magic lady would give them the same every week, so long as he would seek work wherever it could be sought for.

“Now Bob,” he said, “go change this coin at the brewer’s, for he’ll have the change, and bring home a pitcher of beer, for we’ll celebrate tonight. And Janet, you go put four fine chops on our tab at the butcher’s. And dear wife, come give me a good kiss while the kids are out, eh?”

So they made merry that night.

Next day the woodcutter went into the village asking for work at every door, and he did so faithfully, day after day, until the villagers began to say to each other that John Woodcutter was daft, coming back and back when they’d told him and told him they hadn’t a thing for him. And what did he think he’d find, anyway, with the roads already full of men out of work?

The brewer’s wife offered him the job of cleaning out her cow-barn, since she no longer kept a cow, but it was only two or three day’s work, and she wouldn’t give him a silver piece for it, nor half one, so he had to turn her down. After that, when she poured beer for people in the brewery bar she told them that John Woodcutter went around asking for work but when you offered him a job he was too lazy to take it. And some of the people nodded wisely and said, “What do you expect of people who’ll take money for doing nothing?” and others said, “The fairies have no business handing out good money to layabouts and wastrels,” and the mayor said, “Fairy money is foul money. It corrupts those who take it. Mark my words, we’ll soon see John driving a carriage and his wife wearing silken gowns!” Then they all nodded wisely, except one man who had just lost his job of road-paving, and was spending his last coppers on a half-pint of beer to drown his sorrows. That man drank his beer, went out onto the road where John had told them he had met the tall, beautiful lady, and waited for her to appear. And there she was. And she offered her bargain, and he took it.

John kept going about his village, and villages for miles around, seeking and asking for a job. He longed with all his heart to be doing an honest day’s work, but wouldn’t take the part-time jobs he was offered, for they’d bring him in less than the lady’s gift did; so his reputation as a working man was soon lost. His wife Mary’s rheumatism kept growing worse and now was very bad, so he and young Janet kept the house and garden. The boy Bob dropped out of school and got himself prenticed to a carpenter, and they were proud of him, but the fee was a fifth of their silver piece, and Bob as a prentice brought no money in. After a whole year had passed, John was feeling almost as desperate as he had felt coming home from the mine. That evening he went down to the road, and there among the shadows stood the lady, tall and beautiful.

“Lady,” he said, “I look for work, I ask for work, but there’s no work to be had. And people have lost patience with me, bothering them for jobs, but not able to take the little they can offer.”

“You may cease to look,” said she, “whenever you wish.”

“But that would break our bargain.”

“Yes,” said she. “By seeking work, you prove that you are a hopeful man, who believes that good people always have enough money. To cease seeking would prove that you have lost that righteous belief. It would show that you are discouraged. The Gift Fairies cannot see discouraged people. You would become invisible to me. You would become ineligible for my gift.”

“Ah, well,” said John. “We won’t be discouraged, then.”

And month after month, he trudged about, wearing out his shoes, which he couldn’t replace because Mary’s medicines cost a great deal now, and young Bob’s appetite was something ferocious, and young Janet no longer looked after the mayor’s children because the mayor’s wife said her clothes were too shamefully shabby. Mary wept because her pretty daughter didn’t have a decent dress on her back, so John bought cloth from a peddler, and Mary sewed Janet a new dress.

“Tsk, tsk, look at John Woodcutter’s Mary flouncing about in silks and satins, and her dad taking money from those fairies and never doing a lick of work . . . “

The weeks passed, and every week the day came round when John would feel in his pocket and find the magic piece of silver. Eagerly did he wait for that day, and the money was spent almost before he had it. Then one week the gift-day came, and he felt in his pocket, and nothing was there.

He waited a minute, and felt again. Empty.

He went and weeded the potato patch, and then felt in his pocket, and his other pocket. He went all about the house looking at the ground to see if the silver coin had fallen from his pocket. Nothing.

Evening came, and he went down to the road to that place where the lady stood, tall and beautiful. “Oh, lady,” said John, “your gift didn’t come today. And Mary’s worse, and we really need it.”

The Gift Fairy looked at him silently, as if from a long way off. “John Woodcutter, is it?” she said at last. “I can barely see you. Your ninety-nine weeks are up.”

“What ninety-nine weeks?”

She seemed to look through him as she spoke, and her voice came as if from far away. “You had ninety-nine weeks to look for work. You found nothing. You are now officially discouraged.”

“Oh, but lady, I’m looking for a job every day as hard as ever, even though it’s been close on two years — truly I’m not discouraged — I keep hoping!“

“You are officially discouraged, you have officially ceased to look actively for work, and you are officially invisible to the Gift Fairies.”

“Oh, lady,” cried John in despair, “for how long?”

“Forever,” said the faint, cold voice of the Gift Fairy.

And no matter what John said to her after that, no matter how he pleaded, she did not reply, and gave no sign of hearing or seeing him at all.

Terribly downcast, he set off for home at last. But on the road just as night was falling he met his landlord, the rich ogre who owned most of the property for miles around. “You,” said the ogre, looking down from his tall black horse, “you’re the troublemaker in the cottage by the forest. You haven’t paid your full rent for months. You’re to be out of there at the end of the week.”

“Mr. Ogre,” said John, “if we paid full rent out of what the Gift Fairy gave us, we had nothing left for food and clothing. And now she says she has no more to give us at all.”

“The Gift Fairy, is it!” said the ogre. “Living off the fairies — I should have known it! Do you realize those fairies of yours are trying to raise my taxes — MY taxes — to pay for your roads, and your damned schools that teach you sedition and irreligion, and your police that should have put you long since into one of the jails I have to pay for with MY taxes? Fairies! Everything that’s wrong with this country is the fairies’ fault! Get out of my sight before I give you a whipping!” And the ogre flourished his whip at John, then slashed his horse hard with it, and galloped off into the night.

The rest of that week, John went looking for any work at all, whatever it

was and whatever it paid, but another man had always got there before him.

Hearing they could no longer pay for young Bob’s prenticeship, the carpenter sent him home. Bob’s sister Janet had just finished school, and the two young people talked it over and planned what they might do.

On the last evening of the week the brother and sister went down to the road where their father had met the Gift Fairy, and sure enough, she was there among the shadows, tall and beautiful. But she did not look at them.

“Lady,” said young Bob, “I’ve been looking for work and cannot find it, so maybe you’d give me the silver coin, until I do?”

But the lady paid no attention to him at all.

“Lady,” said young Janet, “I’m through school now, and I can teach, or look after babies, or look after sick people, or garden, or cook, or anything at all almost, but my mother needs me, nights, and I can’t find work in the village. So maybe you’d give the silver coin, until I do?”

But the lady paid no attention to her at all.

Bob pleaded, Janet wept, but to no avail. She never looked at them.

A little red fox looked out of a covert by the road and laughed. “She can’t see you, young’uns,” the fox said. “You’re invisible.”

“But I’m hopeful,” Janet said, and Bob said, “But I’m not discouraged!“ And both of them said, “But we’re here — right in front of her!”

“Maybe,” said the fox. “But you didn’t lose your last job.”

Janet and Bob stared at him. “How could we lose a job when we’ve never had one?”

“A good question,” said the fox. “But since you’ve never been employed, you’re officially entering the work force: and so, you’re not not eligible for fairy benefits. You’re invisible. It’s wonderful,” said the fox, snapping at a flea on his flank, “how fairies think, and what they can see and can’t see. My opinion is, they’ve been listening far too much to rich ogres. My opinion is, they’d do a better job at being fairies if they listened to the other ninety-nine percent.”

But young Bob and Janet, trying not to weep with disappointment, were already trudging off up the road to help their parents pack up what little they owned and leave their home forever in the morning.

The fox shrugged his narrow shoulders, looking after them through the shadows of the night. “Nobody ever listens to foxes,” he said.

o0o

Some Foxy Figures

Official Bureau of Labor Statistics figures for 2010:

About 14 million people were officially counted as unemployed.

(5.9 million of these people had been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer.)

People without work or without full-time work but NOT counted as unemployed:

8.9 million “involuntary part-time workers” (would work full-time if they could)

6.1 million “wanted work but did not actively seek work”

Of these, 2.5 million had looked for work within the past year; the rest had not, because, according to the BLS, they did not expect to find any (the “discouraged”), or they could not take a job because of a disability, or were in school, or had no way to get to and from work, or had children but no child care.

Also not counted among the unemployed by the BLS are more than 2 million people currently in American prisons.

The total of unemployed not counted as unemployed is at least 17 million; added to the counted figure of 14 million, 31 million people were out of work last year.

The figures have not substantially changed so far this year.

There was a good deal of hoopla recently when the number of oficially unemployed dropped from 14 million to 13.9 million, so that we have “only” 9% official unemployment. This drop is mostly because the “long-term unemployed” simply have been shifted into the “did not seek work” category. Same bods, different pigeonholes.

The true rate of unemployment remains between 16 and 25%.

(It is much the same in European countries who do not fudge the figures as we do.)

The number of unemployed people receiving benefits (less than half) has dropped recently: this is not, as the media say, because we are “recovering from the recession,” but because so many people have been out of work for more than 99 weeks. Their eligibility for benefits has run out.

Even of the 14 million “officially unemployed,” about 30% have been out of work so long they have lost benefit eligibility.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that every dollar spent on unemployment benefits brings the country $1.90 in “economic growth.” A bargain, says the little red fox. (But Fox News would not agree.)


City of the Plain, by Ursula K. Le Guin

A poem from The Wild Girls, by Ursula K. Le Guin

Play the Podcast of “City of the Plain.”

PM Press Outspoken Authors #06, May 1, 2011

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Ninety-Nine Weeks: A Fairy Tale — 39 Comments

  1. A couple of years ago I started writing a sci-fi novel based on the american colonial period. it was easy to figure out the motivation for people to leave for the colonies. They were sold by the banks as indentured servants to make up for their debt. No work but plenty of credit, credit until suddenly it’s gone and they come and take everything. I put it aside until just this year, when all of my dire predictions started coming true.

  2. Reading the NY Times article about Elizabeth Warren this morning I couldn’t help but think of you, and your writings, and wondering if there isn’t some unconscious connection I have from reading you from such an early age (I’m now 70) and still reading you. Aha, then I read the above. Then I found the writers’ list of OWS via your site. Thank you for that and all else.

  3. The story does not give a full account of the situation. The ogres, in turn, owe a lot of silver coins to green great dragons which live overseas. Dragons sell them lots of glass beads that ogres got addicted to. Actually, your woodcutter could turn into a glass beads producer but he cannot compete with the price of the glass beads offered by dragons. The reason is simple: overseas there are no fairies, and if you do not manage to earn your life there, after some time you become invisible to absolutely everyone (or you go and complain to the dragons, with a similar result). This interesting phenomenon motivates people under dragons’ rule to produce glass beads more effectively and cheaply than any self-respecting woodcutter under ogres’ rule is able to imagine. Fortunately, an old augury has it that one day dragons will come to the ogres’ country, claim it as their own (a just compensation for the silver coins ogres owe them), and free its poor, tormented population of woodcutters and brewers from the oppressive ogregime. Then they will live happily under dragons’ rule till the end of their lives, with no foul fairies to corrupt them.

  4. In NH you ARE allowed to work part-time, the wages you earn are subtracted from your unemployment wages until they are equal to 20% more that your unemployment. Thus, if you get $200 unemployment, and get a job for a couple of days that pays $120.00, then your unemployment check is $120 ($240-$120), for a total that week of $240–an incentive to truly look for work! And the unemployment benefit is based on a total figure, not a weekly. In the above example, the total is figured as $200*26=$5,200 and the amount paid is subtracted weekly. Thus every week you withdraw less than the maximum extends the time you can stay on the program. If you get a part-time job for months, then your benefit carries you longer than just six months. Not a perfect solution (more jobs that pay a living wage would be perfect), but better than starving.

  5. @K K
    I can’t tell if your addition to the story is meant to point towards a happier or a sadder ending. “one day dragons will come to the ogres’ country, claim it as their own (a just compensation for the silver coins ogres owe them), and free its poor, tormented population of woodcutters and brewers from the oppressive ogregime. Then they will live happily under dragons’ rule till the end of their lives, with no foul fairies to corrupt them.” Given that under dragon rule, people work in conditions “no self-respecting woodcutter” would, and effectively die (become invisible to all) when they run out of luck, is dragonland (in your view) better or worse than ogreland? Or simply a different alternative with different ways to live well or suffer badly? And does it make any difference to how you feel about the quality of the peasant’s life or the desirability of the country whether he’s doing a skilled job he enjoys, mucking out barns for his neighbors, or producing addictive glass beads for the few?

  6. additionally, if the woodcutter decides to learn a different trade during those weeks, the gift fairy would refuse to give him coin – because he should be spending his days looking for work, not learning.

  7. Hey, if firewood was so dear, I’d imagine the woodcutter would be right up in the top of the income distribution, and would be having weekly meetings with the ogres in order to make sure that situation stayed the way it was.

  8. @ Tom

    In which case firewood isn’t that valuable. The woodcutter is overcharging and should cut his prices to the actual market clearing price.

  9. For this to actually work either he would need to be paying the ogres so much for the rights to cut the timber that his break even price is above the market price. Or the price at which coal, a close substitute for firewood, sells is sufficiently low that the market clearing price is below his break even price. Or there is some kind of imposed regulation directly mandating a minimum price. Basically he is charging more than the market will bear.

    The story as presented makes no sense, if the price is high it is due to demand exceeding supply, the inability to sell indicates that supply exceeds demand.

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  12. Here’s another way to move off the official unemployment list:

    In Oregon as well you can use part time and temporary work to supplement the unemployment (though last year the tax increase from one of these jobs actually ate all my earnings… that’s another story), but if you get such work you have to work every possible shift as long as the job exists. I was injured in an auto accident (not my fault) and so missed 6 hours of work at my pitiful, part-time job that doesn’t use my skills or education, and doesn’t pay in a month what unemployment did in a week. I returned to work when I couldn’t even do the job right because of my injuries. Well, because I admitted to the unemployment office that I missed a few hours (i.e. I ‘chose’ not to work when I had the ‘option’), I’m out until I can earn 4X my weekly benefit amount, which will take months at my current job. If I ever do get benefits again, I’ll be penalized an additional 2 months of benefits for this. When I called in shock, the unemployment office basically told me that the person I’d spoken to on their help line when asking what to do right after the accident gave me the wrong advice, but that there was no way to fix it, but that ‘the holiday season is coming up,’ so maybe I can get a job in retail.

    So, don’t get sick or injured, either, or you’re out.

  13. Just a quick reply to those commentators who apparently believe that the dragons don’t have their own fairies…

    People there don’t work in conditions “no self-respecting woodcutter” would, because they have to or they’ll be thrown out in the street by ogres.
    They work in such conditions cause it generally pays better than what they can earn working in the fields.
    Or in the mines. And it is far less dangerous.
    But the main reason is money.

    Cause, remember that pitcher of beer poor woodcutter bought straight from the door?
    That’s somewhere around the annual cost of health insurance for an entire year for one person in the land of the dragons.
    And that’s IF they somehow pay the whole thing from their own pocket.

    Actual cost is only one fifth of the price of that pitcher of beer. Dragons pay the other four fifths.
    The poor woodcutter and his family basically drank the year’s worth of health insurance for five people living in the land of the dragons.

    Sure, it ain’t the land of milk and honey (dragons lay eggs after all) but unlike malevolent ogres, dragons are protectors of their people.
    Even those who end up doing bad things do them while trying to serve the people.

    Sort of like what eagles in the woodcutter’s land used to do, before they were replaced by hawks and vultures.

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  17. Thank you Ursula, the fix has always been in in America. For example if you “win” $100 million in the lottery you dont get that amount, you get the present value of that amount less taxes, typically $40 million.
    WIth the success of Game of Thrones, maybe we will see an EarthSea special on HBO?

  18. @Denzel

    Who needs fairies in the dragonland where dragons themselves are protectors of their people?! I guess I must have meant this when I wrote my parasitory extension to UKL’s story, probably I just forgot to write it explicitely.

    @Emma

    Perhaps I did not have any specific intent or hidden agenda. Perhaps I just find the world and its functioning far too complicated to be honestly described in a simple parable or allegory. Perhaps the main problem is that even though always some professions became obsolete and some jobs got extinct, never before this happened as quickly as now, sometimes several times during one’s lifetime. Perhaps one cannot think seriously about the problem of unemployment without taking into account arguments of Jeremy Rifkin, Zygmunt Bauman and many others (although I would say that they provide more questions than answers; but asking right questions is usually a good beginning). Perhaps there is a tension between social benefits and motivation factor that cannot be avoided because it stems from our human nature. Perhaps dependence, especially an addictive one, inevitably provokes problems in the long run. And still, perhaps some fairies’ spiritual life would benefit a lot if they were forced to look for another job.

  19. From a feminist perspective this fairy tale is highly disappointing… but then again, given that a hell of a lot of the woodcutters/occupiers are rapists I suppose it would have to be a misogynist fairytale in order to be accurate. In the end, Janet and Mary will be fucked over by both John and the ogre. They will then proceed to ferment their own revolution. Men will become invisible and sisterhood will blossom. I guess that is my idea of a real fairytale ending at any rate.

  20. Thank you, Ms. Le Guin. You are a national treasure.

    It is a personal belief of mine that the wisdom and insight of both Ishi and your parents has grown in your soul, and that this growth and maturation of philosophy is revealed in your work. I hope/wish that, as a modern extension of that philosophical framework, someday you might explicitly discuss the impact of Ishi on your household and your personal worldview.

    In this way the contribution of his civilization might be further projected into present and future.

  21. I used to love Le Guin. When she emasculated Ged in Tehanu, my love died. Might as well have given him a sex-change operation. She really screwed up on that one. I do hope someone will one day make good live-action feature movies out of the first three Earthsea books, though.

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  24. @Andrew

    That was the price Ged paid in the ending of “The Farthest Shore”. I think that the main problem with “Tehanu” and subsequent developments of the Earthsea cycle is that they are not as well written as the old trilogy (which is not to say they are written badly; I would rather say the first three were just so exceptionally good that it was difficult to repeat their success). And you are probably right that the feminist issue added to the problem – UKL’s novels usually lose a lot in quality when she gets into openly promoting some agenda. However, I find the successful and quite logical re-writing of the Earthsea’s eschatology a remarkable achievement, uncomparable to any of the other fantasy cycles I read or heard of.

    Also, I really enjoyed Kaleguin’s shameless theophany at the end of “Tehanu”. This made the draco ex machina solution quite meaningful and acceptable. And I enjoyed it even more after realizing in “The Other Wind” that actually Kalessin=Segoy represents in a sense not only the novel’s author but also to some extent Lao Tzu, which was perhaps even more shameless (but then, if you dream you are a dragon who is Lao Tzu, you never know who dreams and who is dreamt of ;).

  25. “UKL’s novels usually lose a lot in quality when she gets into openly promoting some agenda”

    Agree. This is why Stephen King loves the Harry Potter stories. He referred to them as “pure story”, which I took to mean that explicit, heavy-handed moralising is conspicuously absent.

  26. Well, that may be true about most authors. But even with Le Guin it depends very much of the type of writing – for example, I find “Changing planes” stories extremely well written and like them a lot even though the moralizing trend is evident in them. But there it rightly belongs as it has always belonged (with great predecessors, including Swift, and – in SF – Lem).

    As for the Harry Potter series, I cannot see it as a positive example (vs. UKL’s moralistic wrongdoing). I have merely browsed through some parts of the first books of the cycle and got a strong impression that Rowling bootlicks young people’s bad instincts, finding some excuses for them in the process. Perhaps she was doing it in a quite unaware fashion – but writers should know what they are doing (like all people who work with sharp tools). I prefer heavy-handed moralizing to light-hearted demoralizing. Also, I think UKL’s writing in her worst books was still better than what I read of Rowling’s (but I heard JKR got better with time, so perhaps my opinion is a bit prejudiced).

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  28. @K K,
    Thanks for the suggested readings.

    Anyway, I think that continuing to add complexity and detail to imaginary worlds can be a way to enhance their usefulness as thinking tools for approaching the real world. This is an interesting exercise in crowd-sourcing world-building.

    These comments really inspire me to seek out a conversation about “agendas” vs. “authentic” or what-have-you engagement with a experience or issue. It strikes me that everyone in this thread is reading different sentences as agenda-laden, with a similar sense of what that means, but completely different instincts about what it looks like. (To me, you eschewed valued readings of the story, arguing for more descriptive detail and a bigger picture overall rather than making valued sense of that picture, but then in your last two sentences you presented a value-judgement–dependency is (always?) addictive and (always?) bad)–with an implied but not explicit relation to the specific story (unemployment in any for creates dependency). That’s a pre-judgment not drawn from the details of the story or from the additional world-building you did, so it sounded agenda-laden to me. But that’s not necessarily bad–what’s the interest of a story if you can’t tie it into your own lived experiences and prior knowledge?) I’d love to discuss further IRL, but I hate comment discussions. My take-away will be that I should strive to undermine my own assumptions and give others the benefit of the doubt when I start to feel that they are ignoring what’s in front of them in favor of a preferred fairy tale, the perception that people with differing views about our actual social safety nets will tend to project at each other. Perhaps through this effort differing allegories and real lived stories can be merged into optimally detailed accounts of how a system impacts people, with the degree of descriptive complexity needed to allow for actionable analysis.

    On the off-topics, I liked Tehanu and The Other Wind a lot better than the original trilogy, but I haven’t read any of them in several years. They seem much more real to me, which may also relate back to the perceptive predispositions… But might just be a style preference thing.

  29. @Emma

    Do you appreciate a bit of irony from time to time (especially when your comment meant as ironic is taken by its face value)? Can you enjoy being just a little bit mischievous (just for fun, no gain and nobody’s harm intended)? Does it happen to you to take some side in discussion against your usual attitude and convictions just for the sake of discussion itself, to make it more lively and interesting, and to explore another point of view? Or just to annoy/provoke/stimulate (in the most innocent sense 😉 ) your opponent?

    I think that is the part you may be missing – the pure, unrestrained playfulness involved in storyreading, storytelling and fantasizing, and the way it drags you without any (concious) purpose, and still brings you to some unexpected regions. You may get to much more interesting (although: also, much more dangerous!) places if you do not plan your trip too carefully.

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