Locus Focus: Take Eighty-Nine!
This month's theme is In Space, No One Can Hear You Blog, and so far, we've visited another planet (if only in our dreams) and felt claustrophobic in a space ark.
Today's setting is from the novel that pretty much all my friends named when I asked each of them: "Can you name a book with an outer space setting?" We're clearly not the biggest readers of SF in the world . . .
The Little Prince
by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Now there were some terrible seeds on the planet that was the home of the little prince; and these were the seeds of the baobab. The soil of that planet was infested with them. A baobab is something you will never, never be able to get rid of if you attend to it too late. It spreads over the entire planet. It bores clear through it with its roots. And if the planet is too small, and the baobabs are too many, they split it in pieces . . .
"It is a question of discipline," the little prince said to me later on. "When you've finished your own toilet in the morning, then it's time to attend to the toilet of your planet, just so, with the greatest care. You must see to it that you pull up all the baobabs, at the very first moment when they can be distinguished from the rose bushes which they resemble so closely in their earliest youth . . ."
Well, who said that a featured outer space setting had to come from a Science Fiction novel? =P
The little prince's planet--no more than an asteroid, really--is hardly a realistic creation. It is, however, an endearing allegory. Have you ever thought about what your life would look like if it had to fit into an area of half a kilometre square? Would you take up all the space with an ermine-lined ego so that there is no room for anyone else? Or might a lone lamp post, having convinced you of its importance, take up all your time? If you're lucky, your life will be like the little prince's asteroid. On his home, there are always baobab bushes to pull up and volcanoes to clean--but normal life is full of responsibilities like that.
But these features of the landscape are ultimately dwarfed in significance by a single rose. And although the subtext suggests that he departs partly to get away from her petty, demanding ways, having left her, he finds that he cannot call any other planet home because she is not on any of them.
The idea of having a "home planet" or of longing "to return" to a distant star is often indulgent. Put down roots where you're planted, I say, and bloom . . . even if you have to die trying. =P Yet it's also true that once we have tamed something, we earn not just responsibility for it, but also a longing to be with it. And where responsibility and longing come together, you have a good, strong rock for building that unique-in-the-universe setting known as home.
Question of the Week: What is the rose that keeps calling you back to your home planet?
Image Source: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery