Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Seventh Voyage

Lem Stanislaw’s Seventh Voyage was a fun read with interesting message, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Although I loved Stanislaw’s approach to time travel and the idea of a lone space traveler just going about his day on a long voyage, what really drew me to the novel was the character. Even before the he entered the vortices and the duplication process began, it was already clear what kind of person the main character was. As he methodically goes about his daily life, eating, calculating, and trying to make repairs, Stanislaw shows that the main character is just a normal person. The characters strengths are shown; we see that he is precise with his actions, methodical with his planning, and is good at thinking things through. And we see his weaknesses; he can be stubborn sometimes and is fairly set in his ways. It’s this setup that makes the character so interesting, and gives the 2nd half of the story such a strong impact. As the main character enters the vortexes and meets with his past and future selves, each one more stubborn and self-assured than the last, we can see his flaws begin to emerge as a more prominent issue.
As the amount of duplicates increase, the tone of the story switches from a play on the main characters flaws to a play on the flaws of humanity in general - we see that alone, a person can be intelligent and even wise, but together people are dogged, selfish, and narcissistic. When the main character realizes that his problem – finding another person to help him fix his ships rudder – is solved not by himself or any of his more recent duplicate selves, but by two duplicates of him as a child, he as the protagonist and we as the reader are given a pretty frank message – that people are productive and good as children but fairly useless as adults. This message is compounded even more by the ending – not only does no one believe him, but the main character learns nothing from his adventure and is disgusted with people for not believing his story.

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