Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

‘Nine Lives’ by Ursula K. LeGuin

with 4 comments

Two men live alone on an isolated planetoid mining uranium. They are joined by a tenclone – literarily ten versions of a clone – sent by the company to assist them. This causes the two men to reassess their relationship. There is an accident and some of the clones die. This causes everyone to reassess their relationships.

The problem for the story, both in terms of its hardness and emotional impact, is that the clones are not just genetically identical but essentially a hivemind:

“God, what a team! I hadn’t seen the point. How much do you each know what the others are thinking?”
“Not at all, properly speaking… No ESP, nothing fancy. But we think alike. We have exactly the same equipment. Given the same stimulus, the same problem, we’re likely to coming up with the same reactions and solutions at the same time.” (46)

As presented it does amount to ESP though, they function as a single unit. This unity is necessary for the story to succeed but it isn’t very plausible; the idea of the clones as identically deterministic pieces of “equipment” doesn’t wash.

Quality: ***
Hardness: ***

In their introduction H&C comment: “This story is perhaps her most famous.” Really?

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Written by Martin

16 February 2010 at 11:58

4 Responses

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  1. [...] ‘Nine Lives’ by Ursula K. LeGuin ‘Light Of Other Days’ by Bob Shaw ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne ‘The Star’ by Arthur C. Clarke ‘Proof’ by Hal Clement ‘It’s Great To Be Back’ by Robert A. Heinlein ‘Mimsy Were The Borogoves’ by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore ‘Davy Jones’ Ambassador’ by Raymond Z. Gallun ‘The Life And Times Of Multivac’ by Isaac Asimov ‘The Singing Diamond’ by Robert L Forward ‘Down And Out On Ellfive’ by Dean Ing ‘Send Me A Kiss By Wire’ by Hilbert Schenck ‘The Xi Effect’ by Philip Latham ‘A Descent Into The Maelström’ by Edgar Allen Poe ‘Exposures’ by Gregory Benford ‘The Planners’ by Kate Wilhelm ‘Beep’ by James Blish ‘Drode’s Equations’ by Richard Grant ‘The Weather Man’ by Theodore L Thomas [...]

  2. [...] 4) On Being Libelled By Liviu Suciu – in which I make extensive use of my right to reply. 5) ‘Nine Lives’ by Ursula K. LeGuin – in which I discuss a story which is clearly on a reading list somewhere in 185 words. 6) [...]

    Four « Everything Is Nice

    24 September 2012 at 13:20

  3. […] Er, yeah, Wednesday’s post is already the most popular of the last twelve months. 2) ‘Nine Lives’ by Ursula K. LeGuin – For the sake of high school students everywhere, I should really write a longer piece on […]

    Five | Everything Is Nice

    28 September 2013 at 12:47

  4. […] ‘Nine Lives’ by Ursula K LeGuin – Ursula K LeGuin is assigned in college. […]

    Six | Everything Is Nice

    31 October 2014 at 08:47


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