4. Dark Orbit - Moth, Sara, and Thora


How do the three main characters in this book relate to one another? Are they similar or different people? Did any one in particular stand out for you? Did their relationships work for you?


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    We got to know the three characters in very different ways: Sara was a viewpoint character in a standard third-person narration, Thora as mainly first-person reflection, and we didn't see Moth's viewpoint at all.

    I think they're quite different. Thora seemed mostly to be self-absorbed, interested in the world only so far is it affected her personal, internal growth. Sara was very much about the situation she was in, trying to understand and affect things for the benefit of others (mainly). Moth seemed trapped by the social role she was forced to play and wanted to escape it.

    I thought an interesting open issue is how much Moth was possibly beminded as a young and innocent person, as well as having a young appearance. There's something there about how we take on the identity of the role we're expected to play in a society.

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    I kept thinking that Sara and Thora were largely the same - like two aspects of the same person. Thora revealed the themes of the book to us, Sara the plot. Was Thora Sara's subconscious? What role did Moth play, here? At one point in the book I was wondering if Moth was a changeling, and Iris a fairy mound that you could just fall into. In the end, Thora does disappear from the world, gone to live with the fairies. Is she alive or dead at that point? Like living in the light beam, perhaps one can be both at the same time.

    When exploring the planet for the first time, Sara asks Thora: "How can you stand to look at it?" Thora slid her goggles down guiltily, as if caught doing something forbidden. "Its the light," she said. "I could bathe in it all day." Aside from this being a fore_shadowing_ (sorry) of her time in the dark, is it also hinting at a death and rebirth?

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    There was a strong thread of different ways of knowing. Sara was a more analytical person, Thora was intuitive. The notion of the Torobes as being fairies and hence other-than-human isn't one that occurred to me, but it's obvious now you point it out. Thora's understanding of wending could be seen as her birth/initiation into new mysteries and ways of perceiving.

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    Sara is described as quite acquisitive at the start, partly because of the society she lived in, but when out on the road comes over as generous and supportive of the group (to the extent that individuals reflect this back to her).
    Thora is put into a quasi-divine role by her experiences on the planet Orem (to the extent that we can trust her memories given the subsequent treatment she had received), though both by temperament and philosophy is ill-suited to that.
    And as mentioned, Moth gets beminded as a younger person than she actually is (whatever that phrase means :smile: )
    So each of the three - in quite different ways - is put by other people into roles and positions that appear to be at odds with who they really are. Or, inverting the perspective, are these roles in fact reflecting their true selves, and it is their own societies who have forced them into unnatural roles? Another aspect of the book that I really liked was the ambivalence of this question - as readers we are forced to stay with not knowing.

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    Good points. I think Sara pretty much rejected her materialistic upbringing, perhaps finding a better home among the Wasters than the Plants and their predilection for money. I think Thora, at least at the start and end of the book, was trying to come to terms with her experiences on Orem and what that was forcing her to become. And Moth was the girl trying to do a job reserved for men. So in all cases, they were people going beyond their cultural norms.

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    Good thoughts re: the testing of character qualities. Any thoughts on the changeling theory, @RichardAbbott ?

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    @Apocryphal said:
    Good thoughts re: the testing of character qualities. Any thoughts on the changeling theory, @RichardAbbott ?

    I hadn't really thought about that aspect before you raised it the other day, and don't know whether I am persuaded. Moth's changing facets seem to be more because of the expectations of those around her, not her own will to change. But maybe there's not so much difference.

    The quote you put in, about Thora's desire to live in the light, is fascinating, not least because in order to actually live in the light, in the sense of immersion at first hand rather than from orbit, she has to first live in the darkness...

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    The book didn't go where I thought it was going with any of the main characters.

    Sara looked like the main protagonist but in the end was more of an observer. She didn't really develop.

    I expected Moth to learn to see but lose her own abilities and place in the world, but none of this happened.

    Thora was the most satisfying. She looked like a plot element and her musings began as completely inward focused, but she started focusing on other people and the world around her, came to care, and was the main protagonist after a certain point.
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    Yes, I liked the switch from Sara to Thora being the main protagonist, but both of them developed as people over the book.

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    Moth's name kept partially aggravating me. Sara and Thora have a real name and a suitably arcane/antique/scifi name, respectively. But Moth's name is a real noun, as if she had siblings named Chair and Tomato. Occasionally, I was able to unfocus on the meaning enough to assume it was a scifi name, but then every so often I had a moment of "Oh right, the moth is drawn to the light, so clever, please stop" and it shook me out of flow.

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