Can You Decipher this Quote from a Sci-Fi Novel?

Contemplation occurred with consequences resulting. Meditation existed on a plane remote from the familiar. By virtue of reflection, resolution simply was. No human, equipped with the latest and most relevant tools, would have recognized the process for what it was. And yet — there were fine points of tangency.

Among the incredibly diffuse but nonetheless vast aggregate worldmind of which the verdure on board the Teacher were an inseparable part, what Was became what Is. Call it thought if it aids in comprehension. The plants themselves did not think of it as such. They did not think of it at all. They could not, since what transpired among them was not thought that could in any sense be defined as such.

That did not mean that what came to pass among them was devoid of consequence. It was determined that, for the moment, at least, nothing could be done to affect what had transpired. Patience would have to be exercised. The disturbing situation might yet resolve itself in particulars agreeable to those whose awareness of it was salient. Their perception of the physical state of existence humans defined as time was different from that of those who inhabited the other, more-remarked-upon biological kingdom.

Alan Dean Foster, Reunion, pp. 110 – 111

15 thoughts on “Can You Decipher this Quote from a Sci-Fi Novel?

  1. S.D. McKinley

    Paragraph 1: To think is to have consequences. Maybe related to vanity in the sense that everything or even waking up is vain. I’m not sure if “process” is related to thinking or referencing something else. Fine points of Tangency? Tagency: “tangency – the state of being tangent; having contact at a single point or along a line without crossing.” Isn’t a single point a very fine one anyways?
    Paragraph 2: A lot of people, thinking as one, everything in the past led up to now, So now we are questioning what thought really is, but the plants “think” of it otherwise? But the plants do not think, so they cannot fathom this.
    Paragraph 3: So we are at consequence again – and it could not be changed, the people would just have to wait. So if people do nothing, the outcome will favor the important? So then we have a division of people that is not only based on physical location, but by perception of what human existence is.

    Ouch….my head lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha, thanks for having a go!

      Here’s my summary:
      “The plants could think. But it wasn’t like human thought. But they could think. But it wasn’t like human thought. They had made a decision, and they were even able to implement it. But it was going to take a long time, because they were plants.”

      I believe the line about tangency is meant to convey that the plans’ thought had one or two small things in common with human thought. And yes, I agree, “fine” points of tangency might be kind of redundant, but we’ll just call it descriptive. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. S.D. McKinley

        Very nice! I have been blamed for being too literal sometimes – it has it’s pros and cons πŸ˜‰ I looked this book up and it actually has overall good reviews which I thought was interesting. Some people were saying it would make you more smart if you bring a dictionary with you.

        Do you consider this good writing?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. No, I absolutely don’t. I think it’s laughable. That’s why I posted it.

    First of all, it’s way too abstract. If the reader didn’t know that plants were being discussed, then this could be a description of literally anything. Take the sentence “The disturbing situation might yet resolve itself in particulars agreeable to those whose awareness of it was salient.” In other words, “Perhaps the problem would work itself out.” That could apply to literally any situation in the entire universe.

    Secondly, I find it snooty. It’s as if the author wrote with a thesaurus in one hand, seeking to stump his readers or show off his own scientific smarts. Or, as if he’s writing just to the datahead readers, saying, “See how much smarter we are than those other readers?” This impression is strengthened by the fact that the MC is presented as sooo special and sooo different from the rest of humanity that, for example, he kind of welcomes the prospect of dying of thirst because he would finally get to participate in common human weakness.

    However, not every passage in the book is this bad. These paragraphs are probably the worst offenders. There are action and dialogue sequences whose style is still “high,” indirect, overexplaining, and tends to use unexpected near-synonyms, but is still clear enough that it doesn’t slow down the reader. I don’t read a lot of “hard” sci-fi, and it wasn’t until I picked up this book that I realized the genre definitely has its own style that would be considered way overwritten by any editor of thrillers, contemporaries, etc.

    And I should say that, despite the style being amusing and at times annoying, the plot moved along fast enough and the worldbuilding was interesting enough that I finished the novel. I learned a few terms, too, like “Schwarzchild discontinuity.”


  3. S.D. McKinley

    Funny that you say “It’s as if the author wrote with a thesaurus in one hand,”. I was thinking dictionary. I have not ready any hard SciFi. Cheers and thanks for the laughs. -S.D.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Friday Fun Links #6 – S.D. McKinley – a fresh meet blog

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