Read The Mirrored Ocean: A Short Story by Luke F.D. Marsden Free Online
Book Title: The Mirrored Ocean: A Short Story|
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 955 KB
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The author of the book: Luke F.D. Marsden
Edition: Speaking Eye Press
Date of issue: May 8th 2015
ISBN: No data
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Reader ratings: 4.4
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This is a short story told, in the first person, by a whale; a rather thoughtful whale that speculates on his surroundings and the meaning of the world above the surface. That sounds like either self-indulgent new-age mysticism or tiresome cute anthropomorphism. But author Luke F.D. Marsden manages to avoid both, albeit only just sometimes. The result is rather good.
We’re in the mind of a young male cachalot (sperm whale) as he dives for prey, crunches the odd octopus, and passes shoals of brightly-lit plankton in the deep ocean. Every now and then he goes to the surface to fill his lungs with air, as whales must, and wonders what is up there and what the moon and the stars are, and whether they mirror his world. “In these vast oceans, my home, which I understand so well, I have made it my purpose to come to know what happens in that world beyond the surface, that extends as far above it as the depths reach below it – perhaps further.”
Two things lift this story above the average. One is simply that it’s well-written; it’s a highly literate piece with simple but expressive prose. (The same is true of Marsden’s other short story, The Isle of the Antella.) The other is that Marsden actually has tried to get inside the head of a whale. God knows how you do that, but the narrative has a strange ring of truth. Thus, after diving to a great depth, the whale encounters “a colossal brute of a squid ... Eat him or die. Your belly is sated? It matters not. Eat him or die.” He struggles with the squid but does eat him, and takes a simple pleasure in what he has done: “What a hunt! What food … what … life!”
Now and then, Marsden does get just a little too close to anthropomorphising his whale – by having it assign the Moon a name, for example, and referring to its grandfather (to be sure, a whale would have one; but would it recognise him as such? I suppose we do not know). Also, Marsden has said the story – with its two worlds, of the undersea and the air above – is an allegory of the difference between the conscious and the subconscious minds. That did not really come across, though it is perhaps represented by the whale’s instinctive behaviour below the surface, and its conscious speculation on its surroundings when it broke above it.
Nonetheless I liked this story. It’s a bold idea, but Marsden knows how far to take it; the story’s about the length it should be, so you can suspend disbelief. It’s also, as I said, rather well-written. A story with a whale as a narrator? Not everyone is Jack London, and this story could have fallen flat on its face. It doesn’t, and is oddly memorable.
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Read information about the authorLuke F. D. Marsden lives in the South West of England. His books and short stories combine metaphysical and visionary fiction with realism and detailed observation. He has travelled extensively in six continents and brings the cumulative experiences of these journeys to his writing. He is a graduate of Oxford University in Molecular Biology and holds a Master's degree in Computer Science. These fields of study have taught him how little we know about the world and our own minds.
"I think that the ability of literature, at its best, to unlock and engage the power of the imagination makes it the most powerful art form. Two and a half thousand years of philosophy, medicine, biology and psychology since Aristotle have yet to produce even a basic explanation of the mechanism of consciousness, or of our imagination. We have barely touched the surface when it comes to understanding the worlds inside our heads ... there is so much still to explore. By writing, I strive to venture into these uncharted territories and to create works that reveal something of what lies there."
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