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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Ishmael in Love" by Robert Silverberg

Synopsis: Ishmael, a dolphin who helps out humans on the island of St. Croix, falls in love with Lisabeth Caulkins. He saves the island for love of her, but she does not love in return.

Commentary (science): Despite its presence on a website called "Biology in Science Fiction," very little applies directly to the general study. Yet much is pertinent in its examination of love (unrequited): What is love? What makes a creature fall in love with its own kind (sexual characteristics, etc.)? Can it be enough to touch the mind of someone to kindle love? Can one fall in love with another who is almost wholly other, or are we not built that way?

Commentary (literary): Clearly, with Moby Dick's first line in the title, an allusion is here--however overt or subtle. How close is the connection? Can we find one? Perhaps summarize both in a way that teases out a relationship. In Moby Dick, a man loathes a "fish" so much that he risks himself and his entire crew to kill it. In "Call Me Ishmael," this time the "fish" saves the lives of all humans on an island for love of one woman. Are there other correlations?

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