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Saturday, June 19, 2010

"And So On, And So On" by James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Sheldon)

  1. Phantasmicon Jun 1971
  2. Star Songs of an Old Primate, Ballantine 1978
  3. Microcosmic Tales, ed. Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg & Joseph D. Olander, Taplinger 1980
  4. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, Arkham House 1990
  5. 100 Amazing Little Alien Stories, ed. Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemianowicz & Martin H. Greenberg, Barnes & Noble 1996
  • This is a story students may have to read twice due to the difficulty of the number of different speakers of unidentified alien races.
  • Passengers on a spaceship talk and convince one another of the end of the frontiers and knowledge, saying there's nothing left for the next generation to discover. The story ends with a member of the next generation staring excitedly out into space.
Key Passages:
  1. "Rovy! They asked you not to play with the screen while we're Jumping. We've told you and told you there isn't anything there. It's just pretty lights, dear. Now come back and we'll all play--"
  2. [S]omething happened.... a very slight something, just enough to make the drowsy passengers glance up.
  3. "I feel sorry for the youngers today." ...blew out his ear sacs comfortably. "We had all the fun."
  4. "The primitive phase is finished. The true frontier is within now. Inner space.... I refer to reality, to that simpler and deeper reality that lies beyond the reach of the trivial methodologies of science."
  5. "Ooh, science is horrible. I cry every time I think of the poor Armers."
  6. "Life has never before met the ultimate challenge.... In the history of every race, society, planet, or system or federation or swarm,whenever they had expanded to their spatial limits they commenced to decline."
  7. "For the first time all life is closed in a finite space. Who can rescue galaxy? The Clouds are barren and the realms beyond we know cannot be crossed even by matter, let alone life. For the first time we have truly reached the end....The young sense this. They seek to invent pseudo-frontiers, subjective escapes. Perhaps your inner space can beguile some for a while. But the despair will grow.... We have come to the end of infinity, the end of hope."
  1. What kind of name is "Rovy?" What word does it make you think of? How might this word aid our understanding?
  2. Many scientific discoveries were due to mistakes--penicillin, radioactivity (look up how these were discovered). Scientists have suggested that play distinguishes species of higher intelligence from the lower--as play helps the player discover or uncover or stumble upon new tools. If you were a child, what would the word, "Jumping" make you think of? How does Rovy's action compare to scientific inquiry and the discoveries mentioned above? How is the adult reaction to Rovy counter-productive?
  3. How does the young clanwife's remark sum up the story's theme?
  4. What does it mean that the passengers are drowsy?
  5. How does the captain's statement, "The momentary discontinuity we just experienced is quite normal in the mode of paraspace," validate this interpretation? Look up all words (including para- and space). For the thematic use of "normal," see title.
  6. How do the passengers feel about science?
  7. It may prove useful to students to know that scientists in the nineteenth century--before relativity and Einstein--felt they were nearly finished discovering all there was to know about science. All that was left was the cataloging. Knowing that, how does key passage #7 read to you now?
  8. How does the final image/action of the child counteract Pathman's statements? How does it fit into the title?
  9. What is "no-space" literally and figuratively in terms of the story?
  10. If you can think of other questions, please let us know.
  1. History of science
  2. Scientific Inquiry
About the author:
  • Wiki
  • James Tiptree was the pseudonym of Alice Sheldon

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