5. Dark Orbit - The Escher


The good ship Escher was described early on as being designed by a 'demented architect', with nothing being where it should, and up and down being hard to discern. Fitting for a ship named after Escher, no? What did you think of the ship? How would you compare the Escher to the surface of the planet Iris, or to the town of Torobe in particular?


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    I think we were supposed to infer that the Escher had been hit by a fold rain, explaining the twisted topology. (I think the name of the ship was taken from the strange architecture, not the name it was originally given when launched.) It untwisted a lot, and into a more manageable form, when it was hit by the fold rain while the crew were aboard.

    The ship didn't really have a presence in the story, beyond the initial "sensawunda" of arriving somewhere so bizarre. But it did mirror the strange topology in the rest of the system, with the gravity swirls and the twisting paths through the "forest".

    Torobe was different, in that it was meant to make sense, even if Thora struggled at first. Once she accepted the native way to move around, she was much more comfortable. The ship and the surface of Iris just existed, without human design or intent.

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    I don't recall the Escher name being applied after people arrived, but may have missed that. It would make sense. Since gravity was unreliable in both places, and each place only made sense to the people from that place, and Escherites lived in a box surrounded by open space, whereas Torobonians lived in the open inside a planet, I got to wondering if these spaces were mirror images of each other.

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    I also assumed that the Escher had made sense when originally built, and had been "reworked" after arrival.
    Worth noting Thora's reaction on seeing Torobe in the light - whereas it had made sense when she couldn't see it and had to be shown by others (until she started to learn the floor patterns), in the light it "looked like a tangle of tripwires, or a web woven by a demented spider". Again, the two versions of reality don't always line up.

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    One of the characters in the book posited that it was a fold rain that occurred prior to arrival that made the original layout of the Escher such a mess. It was never stated if the ship got that name before or after the Epco crew arrive, AFAIK.

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    I liked the creepiness of the rooms being rearranged, and the inference it had happened once already. Most interesting to me was Moth's reaction to the ship, especially when she processed it through something other than vision. And of course, as RichardAbbot says, Thora's two impressions of Torobe; the mental picture as a reader was completely different, just as Thora's was, and the idea that this says something interesting about the mental maps of places really came across.

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    I absolutely enjoyed Thora's initial, felt, and seen impressions of the village. What use is color to the blind?

    I'm also reminded of a pull quote from a cyberpunk/psionic favorite of mine, Catspaw by Joan Vinge: "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is stoned to death."

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    > @rossum said:
    > I'm also reminded of a pull quote from a cyberpunk/psionic favorite of mine, Catspaw by Joan Vinge: "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is stoned to death."

    I've never known where that one originated :smile:
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