The Diary of the Rose • 1976 • Dystopian novelette by Ursula K. Le Guin



In a despotic government, minds need to be aligned to a canon of orthodox thoughts and beliefs, intellectuals might be electroshocked out of their minds. This story investigates the relationship between a “criminal” Flores Sorde, and his psychotherapeutic doctor Dr Rosa Sobel. The patient undergoes an examination for “political psychosis”. Rosa maps into the patient’s mind using a telepathic device which uncovers the conscious and unconscious mind. As the story develops, they influence each other.

Rosa’s diary entries affected me, the story stays and provokes thoughts for quite a time. It reminds of Soviet institutional oppression and torture. The final sentence is heart breaking

“I am the rose. The rose with no flower, the rose all thorns, the mind he made, the hand he touched, the winter rose.”

Although the protagonist’s names are Orsinian, the story never gives us an exact place. Also, it is SFional in contrast to the typical realistic style of the other Orsinian tales.

Meta: isfdb. Published 1976 in Future Power (ed Dozois). Finalist for Hugo, second place for Locus award.

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