Science Fiction Studies

# 6 = Volume 2, Part 2 = July 1975

Peter Brigg

Analogies of Scale in Piers Anthony's Macroscope

Piers Anthony's Macroscope1 assaults the reader with a multiplicity of ideas and with a tremendous and at times enervating slide along a range of physical scale from the sub-atomic to the extra-galactic. The novel is concerned with the various forms of expression of the unity of the cosmos from macrons and protoplasm through the human scale to the macrocosm of astrology and the "traveler signal." It is my intention to show that its single purpose is to discuss the problems of "knowing" the essential unity of all things, including the self, and that it also has a clear pattern in a series of images of this unity on various scales ranging from the minute through the human to the immense and back to the minute. This range of scales is the function of the eponymous piece of hardware, the macroscope itself. The novel proceeds by analogy, setting up systems on different scales, systems that are ultimately different ways of knowing. The resultant epic assimilates all the analogies of scale to describe the unity of the whole galaxy.

1. CONTENT AND MEANING: THE ANALOGIES. Macroscope is of course not the first work to experiment in scale, but it will be shown here that Anthony does so in a different fashion from previous writers. Most novels and stories about scale exploit the existence of men enlarged or reduced in size to make moral or satirical comments on the human situation. Swift's Gulliver's Travels is the prototype for this approach, venting the "fierce indignation" of its author by the tenfold increase and decrease of the manlike beings whom Gulliver meets. In Theodore Sturgeon's "Microcosmic God" (1941) Swift's method is modified when the tiny beings with accelerated life cycles whom James Kidder has created respond to Kidder as to a deity and numerous ironies are revealed in the relationship between creator and created. The distortion achieved through variations in scale is part of the satirist's principle of exaggerating reality in order to reveal its absurdities.

Scale changes also reveal the wonders of the microscopic world in stories such as James Blish's "Surface Tension" (1952) and Isaac Asimov's Fantastic Voyage (1966).2 In these worlds man is miniaturized so that the human race can function in a puddle or travel through the wonders of the human bloodstream. Yet neither the stories with satirical intent nor those delighting in man's possible existence as a microscopic entity use scale in the way which Anthony does in Macroscope. His serious purpose precludes his choosing satire as a prime goal. More importantly, he does not employ the device of increasing or decreasing man's physical size, a central concept in the other stories. To prove the unity of all creation by showing how life and inorganic matter (such as the stars) are similar along the whole range of scale from the sub-atomic to the galactic and through time from the ancient world to the distant future Anthony places man in his formal position in a range of analogous images. Anthony does not change human size but seeks instead to establish mankind as an integral part and reflection of a greater whole.

It is difficult to find a starting point for a discussion of the various analogous patterns in Macroscope because they are points on a full circle. I shall begin with the device which reveals much of the pattern, the macroscope itself. At the beginning of the novel this machine is orbiting the earth and a group of scientists are using its unique abilities to see through the cosmos by perceiving macrons, which are variously described as "a form of light--or rather, a subtle harmonic imprinted upon light passing through the turbulence" and "the particle aspect of light, more than [with] the wave, and perhaps [with] particles of gravitation" (78,79/§2).3 The machine can see inside the earth and because it can examine life on planets thousands of light years away it can, in effect, see through time. It provides the hardware for the analogy of scale. It is an extension of man which uses a sub-atomic medium of wave-particle reception to reach anywhere in the universe. It can magnify to any extent at any range and thus puts man in a position to "know" all about the universe, or rather it could do so were it not for the mysterious destroyer signal carrying a mind- annihilating hypnotic program. The problems of the destroyer signal's source and purpose provide the plot of the novel on one level as four people (Ivo Archer, Afra Glynn Summerfield, Beatryx Groton and Harold Groton) use the macroscope and the technology of faster-than-light travel which it provides to attempt to answer the question of the destroyer. A major portion of the plot deals with their voyages and discoveries.

The plot of the novel also provides the vehicle for the discovery of the characters in a variety of analogous ways. The stress is on the activity of knowing, for the understanding of human personality comes only in terms of the actions of integration and self-definition. For example, Ivo Archer is the product of a project which attempted to crossbreed selected humans for intelligence but which appears to have been a relative failure. However, in the course of the novel we discover that Ivo is a cover personality for Schön (German: beautiful, fair), the supergenius produced by the project. The relationship is an adversary one, for Ivo, originally created by Schön to live what Schön considers the boredom of everyday life, has developed enough personality strength to wish to prevent Schön from "coming," a process which would annihilate the personality of Ivo. This conflict is a metaphorical presentation of the relationship between the human conscious and unconscious minds, a fact illustrated by the fashion in which Ivo's and Schön's selves are complementary. Ivo is moral, conservative, sentimental, emotionally sensitive to others and none too clever except for the special faculties of mathematical intuition and flute playing, both skills which Schön has given him. Schön is amoral, daring, logical, emotionally childlike and supremely intelligent. One of the principal processes illustrated in Macroscope is the Jungian individuation of Ivo-Schön as the hidden, unconscious Schön is brought into the consciousness in a controlled and integrating fashion by Ivo. The resulting Ivo at the close of the book has Schön's abilities without the disabilities of his childlike morality and selfishness, The process of individuation has been further complicated, for Ivo has emulated the life of Sidney Lanier, the Georgia Reconstruction poet, musician and aesthetician. The flautist's skills which Schön had given him led Ivo to follow and study the life of Lanier and images from Lanier's life keep recurring as flashbacks in the book, as do frequent quotations from Lanier's poems. In effect Ivo has been imprinting another personality on himself for better definition and to replace the lack of personality that he feels as a result of being Schön's "creation." In the content of Macroscope as a whole Lanier's presence provides a vital metaphor for the integration of knowledge on the artistic level, for Lanier hypothesized the unity of poetry and music and understood the role of the artist to be that of a free individual working to create a part of the universe in harmony with God's creation. When Ivo plays the instrument which brings living dreams to each of the participants he is "playing" Lanier's "The Symphony," a poem conceived congruently as music and poetry and which symbolises the unity of word form and music form.

Afra Glynn Summerfield also develops an individuated personality in the course of the novel. She shifts from a selfish and intellectually-based love for Bradley Carpenter (Ivo's companion from the project whose brain is burnt out by the destroyer early in the novel) to a gradual awakening of her emotional self and a growing love for Ivo. The Ivo whom she cannot love because he is not clever enough is replaced by Ivo-Schön at the close of the novel, and by this point Afra has been put through two educational sequences which bring her to maturity. The first is a pseudo-trial which follows her unsuccessful attempt to revive Bradley, and which teaches her the way in which her emotions distort her logical faculties. At the close of the novel Schön forces her through the symbolic education in the living horoscope which brings her to grips with the emotional block concerning the death of her father, a block that has cut her off from her own unconscious. Her ultimate success depends upon the taking of a total risk by baiting Schön into the room where the destroyer signal is produced. She wins because of her emotional strength rather than her intellect, for it is Schön's intelligence which endangers him and forces him to surrender his shared personality to Ivo when threatened by the destroyer. It is learning to use her gifts other than the intellect which integrates Afra's personality and releases the hidden part of her nature.

The problem of human integration is also dealt with in terms of the functioning of the personalities of Ivo, Afra, Beatryx and Harold as a single unit in their endeavours. Anthony has established this pattern of human personality in terms matching Jung's four basic psychological functions: feeling, thinking, intuition and sensation.

  Jungian  classical elements Astrological
Ivo sensation fire Aries– ram
Afra  feeling earth Capricorn– goat
Harold  thinking air Libra– the scales
Beatryx  intuition water Pisces– fish

 Harold, the engineer, uses logical thought and technological skills to aid the project and ultimately chooses to go with the Horven, the creators of the destroyer signal and a race committed to finding the ultimate intellectual and rational knowledge in the universe. Harold brings the extroverted thinking type's respect of external facts to bear even in his study of astrology, which he is careful to present and defend as scientific and logical.

Ivo exhibits the introverted sensational type's artistic ability to integrate objective reality with a subjective reading dominated by the self. Thus the external objective world of the macroscope, his relationship with Afra, Lanier's historical existence and the adventure Ivo is given in Tyre are all heavily imprinted by Ivo's personality and his way of looking at things. Like Lanier he is able to synthesize experience at a sub-rational level and give it coherence by filtering it through the self which is in contact with the archetypal and personal unconscious elements. Because he does not need to understand in a conscious rational fashion Ivo can see around the destroyer signal that only captures the consciousness of a rationalizing intellect. He merely reproduces what he sees in the macroscope without being drawn into the intellectual trap of its meaning.

Afra is strongly influenced by feeling, which Jung defines as a rational judging function along with thinking but distinguishes from the latter by stressing its lack of visible or explicable chains of reasoning. Afra's feelings about Ivo's colour, her reaction of guilt towards Bradley's death (an event she causes by trying to save him) and her own emotional blocks that nearly defeat her in her competition against Schön are all functions of a feeling personality.

Beatryx completes the set of functions as a representative of intuition, the Jungian term describing an irrational integration and grasp of the entire content of event or situation. Beatryx is capable of deep sympathy and spontaneity. She frequently displays a sense of knowing right actions even when she does not understand circumstances in an intellectually ordered fashion.

To see the way these four types provide an analogue for a complete human personality consider their co-ordinated effort on Triton when they are establishing a base and preparing for interstellar flight. Ivo functions as the non-rational apparatus who can absorb the galactic information from the macroscope without having his mind burnt out by the destroyer signal. His understanding of this information on the basis of sensation is converted to logical thinking by Groton, who also has the mechanical logic to translate concept into hardware. Afra's feeling capacities are expressed in her role as pilot of the space vehicles (where rational knowledge must function beneath the level of immediate consciousness) and her limitations are also those of her feeling: her color prejudice and her failure to restore Bradley when she subconsciously disregards parts of the information. Beatryx fits her emotional intuition into the scheme by providing domestic security for the group and by drawing out Ivo's talent with the flute and his close knowledge of Lanier. Her name, Latin for "one who makes happy," is a reflection of her skills.

On several occasions Anthony asserts that the four characters are complementary:

"Right now, Ivo's the only one competent on the scope, Harold and I can pilot--"

    "If we can't get along without all of us," Ivo pointed out, "it doesn't really matter what one of us knows. We function as a group or not at all." (189/§6)

They were participating in superscience: Type III technology. None of them comprehended more than a fraction of it. But by accident or cosmic design, they were a team that could do the job, with the overwhelming assistance of the supervising programs from space. (251/§7)

It is clear that the four persons function most effectively when they are working together, as the four human functions only work effectively when they are in harmony with one element dominant. (Anthony must intend the developments in the characters of Ivo and Afra to fill the gap created when Beatryx and Harold are lost to the group at the climax of the novel.) Later the artistic aspect of Ivo's sensational function provides the key for all four characters when his playing of the galactic instrument launches them into fantastic worlds dominated by horoscope signs that lead to their individual fulfillment.

The others waited, knowing his problem, searching for some way to help. Harold Groton, whose astrological interpretations could do no good in this situation; Afra Summerfield, whose physical beauty and analytical mind were similarly useless; Beatryx Groton, whose empathy could not enchant his suddenly uncertain fingers.

Analysis, empathy, astrology...

Then he saw that they could help, all of them. just by being available.

Ivo began to play. (36649; suspension points in original)

Anthony never clarifies the state the characters exist in during Ivo's concert. Instead he integrates real physical events with the dream state and horoscopy to create a 'living dream' that can kill the dreamer permanently or transpose his consciousness to a different form of existence.

The concept of different beings as complementary parts of a psychologically whole, functioning unit bears comparison with at least two other sf situations, the second section of Isaac Asimov's The Gods Themselves and the Handdara of the Foretelling in Ursula K. LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness. In Asimov's novel the tripartite Soft Ones (Dua the mid-emotional, Tritt the right-parental and Odeen the left-rational) reach their maturity when they unite through melting, a process akin to sexual orgasm but buttressed by mental orgasm, and form a Hard One, the final stage of their development. Asimov's concept differs from Anthony's in that the destiny of the parts is to discover that they are a unity and to "pass on" to an actual physical unity whereas Ivo, Afra, Beatryx and Harold function as a team while remaining individuals. Asimov has said that he was working in terms of a trisexual society4 but Anthony is interested in the psychological traits of personality. Moreover, Anthony's characters are not unidimensional (Asimov's Emotionals, Rationals, Parentals) but are human beings whose strongest characteristics meld to allow them to work as a team. When Anthony has Ivo play the symphony it does not integrate the four personalities as the melting unites three in Asimov. Instead the symphony allows each character to have an experience suitable to his or her personality.

The Foretelling of the Handdara in The Left Hand of Darkness presents a temporary unity among varied individuals to achieve a specific purpose. In this respect it resembles the way Anthony's characters function as a team to achieve their goals, each bringing the assets of his or her personality type to the task. The Foretellers sit in a circle in a trance state under the direction of the Weaver, one of their number. The trance builds in psychic intensity until a predictive answer is given to a predetermined question. Genly Ai, the outsider who observes the phenomena, is given an insight into the sexual basis of this predictive trance-unity because his telepathic training involves him in it by accident: "I was surrounded by great gaping pits with ragged lips, vaginas, wounds, hellmouths, I lost my balance, I was falling..."5 The participants in the Foretelling include the Weaver, the Zanies (who are schizophrenics), the Pervert (who on Winter, a planet where sexual latency is the norm, is a male), and the Celibates (one of whom must be in kemmer, the active sexual phase). The Foretelling is quite like the melding that Asimov describes in that both are orgastic. In contrast Anthony deals with parts functioning as a whole but the parts are themselves whole personalities with bias towards one trait. He does not make the trait or bias the whole self as Asimov does. Asimov's Soft Ones seek and find a final unity by melding and LeGuin's Foretellers produce a temporary special state by collaborating but neither are representations of the balanced individual with all parts existing in harmony. In Anthony's analogical system Ivo, Afra, Beatryx and Harold are parts of an entity that is balanced, stable and wholly lacks the loss of self entailed in The Gods Themselves or the erotic ecstasy of the Foretellers.

Another analogue for human unity and knowledge functions in the novel. It is the basic protoplasmic nature of life presented in the melting process used to protect the four explorers from the gravities of high speed space travel. Ivo gets the information needed to perform the melting from the intergalactic signals and he and Beatryx see it represented in the macroscope as an immense living cell illustrating the way a cell performs and contains all of the complex functions of human life. In the actual melting each person is dissolved into component protoplasm and reassembled, a process Anthony describes with great lyrical intensity. On the first occasion they undergo melting Afra insists on being handled physically by the others before she allows herself to be melted so that the others can assure her of her selfhood when she is reassembled. The subconscious logic of the feeling personality demands this physical assurance that the self is not changed by this process (even though it is not proof in any external sense). Anthony's choice of a giant cell to illustrate the melting stresses the structural order of living matter which functions equally at the level of the cell and at the level of the whole human being. The characters gain confidence in the consistency of their selfhood. This can be seen by comparing their doubts about the initial melt with Harold's later acceptance of his consciousness trapped in the body of the Drone or with Afra's ability to accept the disguises and sudden changes of size in her combat with Schön. Iva's fear that he will lose his individuality to Schön fades gradually until he is daring enough to take assistance from Schön. The melting process does for the physical body what experience does for the personality: It provides confirmation through testing that each human identity is unique and complex.

Other analogues for unity and knowledge are astrology and the traveler signal. Harold Groton practices astrology and defends it throughout the novel, stressing its age, maturity and scientific basis. His astrological predictions are verified in the plot of the novel and when he meets the Horven, the creature of superior intelligence who has planted the destroyer signal, he discovers that a far more precise system of horoscopy exists, one capable of predicting the exact moment of Beatryx's death. When Ivo is dropped in historical Tyre while attempting to locate himself in time and space with the aid of the macroscope, he goes to an astrologer for some suggestion on how to escape back into the present. The astrological symbols occur again in "The Symphony" Ivo plays, whose movements are divided by the primary signs of the characters: Schön in Aries, Beatryx in Pisces, Harold in Libra, and Afra in Capricorn. In following his sign each character lives out an experience which is part fantasy part event. Then Afra and Schön struggle for survival in a contest set in the context of astrological houses during which Schön explains Ivo's instrument to Afra:

"Actually, it is a teaching device," he continued. "By bringing to life the symbolic essence of a situation or personality, it instructs the participant and viewer. Of course it is necessary to interpret the symbols correctly, but anyone with a smattering of-- yet you lack even that naturally." (438/§10)

Schön nearly defeats Afra because he understands symbolic patterns such as the horoscope. Astrological symbols are vital to the novel because they bind the human and physical universes, providing a symbolic pattern which makes all events comprehensible.

The unity of the universe is again stressed when the traveler-destroyer pattern is explained in the passages interposed between the four horoscope fantasies and in Afra's sudden burst of understanding. These reveal that the knowledge-carrying traveler signal is actually an intelligent being in macronic form which conveys knowledge to the entire universe while the destroyer signals are localized interference implanted to prevent immature species from grasping intergalactic travel from the signal for destructive purposes. Consideration of the macronic signal returns the reader's attention to the macroscope and he realizes that the analogous patterns of unity in the novel have ranged over a scale from the sub-atomic to the galactic.

It can be seen from the above descriptions that Macroscope is comprised of a series of intricately interlocked sequences integrating the scientific and humanistic ways of presenting the doctrine of microcosm and macrocosm, of showing that the pattern of the unity of all things can be traced in the sub-atomic particle, in man or in the stars.6 This doctrine is actually a statement that the entire universe is related in terms of the analogies of scale. Anthony has chosen these analogies as his structural principle.

2. THE METHOD OF PRESENTATION. To create a work with such a vast sweep, Anthony has attempted to develop a style to match the complexities of plot and concept. The style is premised on the method of integrating the levels of analogy to illustrate cosmic unity and on a variation of writing approaches including disguised lectures, sections of narrative action, "purple passages" of description and graphic-typographic devices. In the pages which follow I shall illustrate the integration of the levels of analogy and show how the actual texture of the writing makes it possible to sustain such a complex, multilayered novel.

Anthony has keyed his approach to the ideas of Sidney Lanier. Ivo serves as Lanier's spokesman and heir in the novel. Lanier sought an integration of music and poetry and, by extension, a union of all things under the auspices of Love. "Music is Love in search of a word" is a key from Lanier's poem "The Symphony" and Starke, one of Lanier's critic-biographers (and Anthony's source for the Lanier material), has stressed Lanier's sense of unity and harmony. Speaking of Lanier's last two years, when the poet was trying to state the principles of his art, Starke says:

We know, however, the aim of all Lanier's "present thought": it was the relation of man to the universe, to the supernatural, the natural, and to his fellow men, a subject he made the theme of his last course of Shakespeare lectures and pursued with the unbounded curiosity of Sir Francis Bacon, yearning for general understanding in a period of specialized information. 7

It is as if Lanier, in the presence of nature, lost his own identity and became only an instrument on which nature played, an instrument capable of the most precise rendition of nature's harmonies.8

In Macroscope Anthony attempts to express Lanier's sense of integration and unity and in Ivo he actually implants Lanier's personality in the novel.

Macroscope integrates the analogical statements of unity in terms of plot. Several vignettes from the plot will illustrate how Anthony keeps the various ways of seeing things before us at the same time. Consider the sequence at the macroscope station when Ivo is introduced to the machine by Brad, meets Afra, Harold and Beatryx, sees Brad brain-burnt by the destroyer and wins the macroscope by playing sprouts. The trip to the station contains a passage in which Ivo dreams he is Lanier as a boy in Georgia. Then on the station Ivo meets Afra Glynn Surnmerfield and, on seeing her, lines from Lanier's The Marshes of Glynn pass through his mind.

She wore a dress of slightly archaic flavor, with silvery highlights, and her shoes were white


The lines of her:

            Inward and outward to northward and southward the beach lines linger

            and curl

            As a silver-wrought garment that clings to and follows the firm sweet

            limbs of a girl. (23/§1)

On the short jump from the outer torus of the station to the macroscope Ivo again slips into the personality of Lanier, triggered by viewing the light given off by stars when the poet was a boy. Brad next shows Ivo the macroscope and explains its functioning, the problem of the destroyer and the need for Schön. When Afra and Ivo tour the station afterward she probes him a good deal about Schön and some of the mystery about Schön's whereabouts is created in the evasive answers which Ivo offers. Then after dinner in the Grotons' rooms Ivo is introduced to sprouts, the game at which he will win the macroscope. 'Sprouts' may be the name chosen to suggest organic growth, and it is a game in which the players link lines to complete a diagram. When Ivo wins intuitively at sprouts Groton asks him about his horoscope and introduces that topic. The subjects of the incidents outlined above will re-appear frequently in Macroscope, always dovetailed with other subjects. The catalogue of incidents could be continued but its operative principle is already clear: Anthony has woven the narrative so that all of its elements express their interrelationship by complex juxtaposition.

The actual technique of juxtaposing the passages stresses the "fit" between the various levels of the analogy of scale. Anthony consistently cross-references the parallel descriptions to stress their interconnected nature. The idea of vanity publishing is introduced in one of the passages where Ivo is reliving Lanier's life. Four pages later Ivo draws on the concept to explain the motive for the traveler's signal:

"That's why," Ivo said. "The memory isn't gone, because everyone who picks up the program will know immediately how great that species was. It's like publishing a book even paying for it yourself, vanity publishing. If it's a good book, if the author really has something to say, people will read it and like it and remember him for years after he is dead." (151/§5)

Twelve pages later the same concept is invoked to explain Afra's desire to be handled before Melting: "'Merely your way of publishing for posterity,' he [Groton] said. 'I knew male and female weren't that different"' (163/§5). Besides multiple cross-references such as the above there are innumerable examples of single correspondences such as Ivo's explanation of his relationship to Schön in terms of the destroyer signal:

"And after that I might get a craving for physical dexterity-- you know, be a champion at sports, be able to do sleight-of-hand, control the roll of dice--and at some point Schön would achieve controlling interest. It's more subtle than the destroyer, but the effect is the same, for me." And suddenly another reason he had been able to avoid the destroyer popped up: he had had a lifetime of practice protecting his individuality from oblivion. (311/§8)

The relationship between Ivo and Schön is analogous to that of the Traveler and the Destroyer, for Schön and Ivo block each other like destroyers until the integrated personality is mature enough to use new knowledge safely.

In another instance Anthony points out how the macroscope reveals the correspondence between a single cell and the entire galaxy:

And, clear from this exquisite vantage, the pattern of the stellar conglomeration that was the galaxy emerged: the great spiral arms, coiling outward from the center, doubled bands of matter beginning as the light of massed stars and terminating as the black of thinning dust. Not flat, not even; the ribbons were twisted, showing now broadside, now edgewise, resembling open möbius strips or the helix of galactic DNA. And yes, he thought, yes-the galaxy was a cell, bearing its cosmic organelles and glowing in its animation; motile, warm-bodied, evolving, its life span enduring for tens of billions of years. (324/§9)

This technique of finding comparisons and relationships within the symbolic patterns already in the novel is the basis of Anthony's style, and he has Schön state it when the latter explains the galactic instrument to Afra.

"There are many ways to view existence," Schön said. "Symbols are useful for minds of any potential, and astrology is an organized system of symbols as valid as any. I would accept it as readily as, say, religion. Of course, no symbol has validity apart from the values and qualities assigned to it by the user." (442/§10)

The technique of finding comparisons with other symbolic levels is a drawing together of all the patterns so a sense of unity in the diverse ways of looking at the cell is presented. Thus the entire galaxy is like a cell with the destroyer stations established to act like lycosomes and the travelers functioning like chromosomes to give it pattern and destiny. Thus the torus of the space station containing the macroscope resembles the pattern of the horoscopic planet houses and is in turn related to the whole circular pattern of the galaxy. The groups of humans also function like the cell as diverse talents are pooled for survival by Afra, Ivo, Beatryx and Harold or as the survivors of the genetic project fan out yet remain connected by their common history. Afra introduces the Unified Field Theory when Ivo is trying to break through the destroyer signal and Ivo suggests that the traveler can expand the theory to cover all other fields.

[Afra] "In this way [UFT] gravity, magnetism, and atomic interactions could all be derived as special cases of the basic statement. The practical applications of such a system would be immense."

[Ivo] "So that the theorems of one could be adapted to any other?"

                    "I believe so, if you thought of it that way."

                    "Like adapting astronomy to human psychology? And to music and art and love?" (142-43/§4).

This provides a valid linking of astrology and human behavior, just as it relates the macron to the behavior of the entire galaxy.

Anthony sustains the complex analogical structure of the novel by varying the way in which the plot is presented and the way in which great quantities of information about the analogical levels is communicated. The novel is potentially a nightmare of over information and Anthony's achievement is the presentation of an integrated picture in an attractive variety of ways.

Portions of Macroscope are straightforward lectures to provide the information needed. Anthony evades didactic boredom by putting the presentations into the mouths of the characters and coloring the language with their personalities. Harold Groton, who has been a schoolteacher and an engineer, always has his audience in mind when he simplifies and clarifies what he is saying. He will explain anything to anyone, and as Ivo observes he frequently presents his information with the use of a blackboard. Afra releases information with a characteristic sharpness as though her listeners are slightly foolish and incomplete children.

[Groton] "How do you know [which element they have found on the destroyer station]?"

[Afral "This is an elemental arrangement. Look at-"

"Elementary arrangement," Groton corrected her.

"Elemental. You do know what an element is? Look at these objects. The first is a sphere, which means it has only one side: outside. The second is a closed cone: two sides, one curved, one flat. The Third, the cylinder has three. Yours has four and so on. The first two aren't empty-they're gases!..." (357/§9)

Interposed with the sections which present material didactically are units of narrative action which reinforce points much more dramatically. Ivo's participation in the sprouts tournament provides an example of this, for the tension of the competition and the curious awarding of the golden steamshovel are a highly dramatic way of presenting Schön's superior ability at work in Ivo and of emphasizing Ivo's suitability to be the master of the macroscope. The climax of the novel is the exciting narrative of the conflict between Afra and Schön which dramatizes the power of the zodiacal symbols and, in the final release of Ivo from the fear of losing his personality, dramatizes the integration of the rational and emotional selves. Typically, Anthony follows the action proper with Ivo's sorting out of the meaning of the events and integrates these actions with all that has happened in the novel.

In addition to the disguised lectures and the passages of narrative action, Anthony employs his writing skill to produce passages of particular resonance, lyrical 'purple passages' inserted like small reflective gems in a golden setting to reflect the strength of the concepts of unification and the power of macronic technology. The description of the harnessing of the macronic technology in order to move Neptune is such a passage, carefully building to an explosive burst of action and ending with the simple yet spectacular statement: "Man's physical exploration of the cosmos had begun" (255/§7). The passages which reach the reader under the pressure of this heightened prose are almost all omniscient narrator's descriptions of the physical universe:

Red in the center where the old lights faded; blue at the fringe where the fierce new lights formed. A spectrum between--but also so much more! Here the visible splay extended beyond the range for which nomenclature existed, and rounded out the hues for which human names did exist. A mighty swirl, a multiple spiral of radiance, wave on wave of tiny bright particles, merged yet discrete. The Milky Way was translucent, yet mind-staggeringly intricate in three, in four dimensions. (324/§9)

No book could support too many of these passages and they are carefully allocated to further the picture of the unified universe. Besides those cited above, Anthony uses this strength to describe the melting process, Schön's use of the macroscope to trace the history of the universe, and the integrated vision of sound, cosmos and zodiac which Ivo creates by playing the galactic instrument.

Anthony's writing is augmented by the use of graphic and typographic elements. The book includes an illustration of the pattern of the zodiac, a map of the ancient Mediterranean, a chess problem, illustrations of sprouts and the printing of the zodiacal symbols before the relevant positions of the symphony which Ivo plays. It also has a number of simple diagrams to help explain concepts of physics. Illustrations are not usually proof of a well-written book, but considering the vast range which Anthony is covering they are most efficient in attaining his aims. He also employs limited variations in typography to set off special portions of the story or stress principal ideas. The quotation from Sidney Lanier early in Chapter One--








--poses the problem of self-knowledge in epigrammatic form while the closing competition between Afra and Schön is interrupted by long italicized passages explaining the history of the traveler and destroyer signals.

Anthony varies his methods of presentation in order to sustain the novel through its complex development and to press home his point about unity. The large quantity of information which he must present is encapsulated in disguised lectures, conveyed in the outcome and events of the narrative line of the book and emphasized by the "purple passages" of lyrical description and the graphical-typographical devices. Just as there are variations in the scales of the analogies there are a variety of writing approaches which all tend to support the unity of the whole. The variety of methods functions like the instrument Ivo plays, integrating from variety to a sense of totality.


1. Published in 1969 by Avon Books; 6th printing 1975.

2. Based on the film developed from a story by Otto Klement and Jay Lewis Bixby.

3. (78,79/§2)=Pages 78 and 79 of the Avon paperback, or Chapter 2 of presumably any edition.

4. Isaac Asimov to this writer, 7 August 1974: "In the middle section of The Gods Themselves, I began with the notion of describing a trisexual society."

5. Ursula K. Le Gain, The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), §5.

6. Anthony has Harold offer Afra a microcosm-macrocosm statement like this in §4. It is taken almost bodily from Anthony's acknowledged source, M.E. Jones, Astrology and How it Works (Stanwood, Wash.: Sabian Publishing Society 1969, first pbd 1945), p17.

7. A.H. Starke, Sidney Lanier: A Bibliographical and Critical Study (1933; reprinted New York: Russell and Russell 1964), p302.

8. Ibid., p444.



Anthony’s Macroscope assaults the reader with a multiplicity of ideas and with a tremendous and at times enervating slide along a range of physical scales, from the sub-atomic to the extra-galactic. The novel is concerned with the various forms through which the unity of the cosmos is expressed, from microns and protoplasm through the human scale to the macrocosm of astrology and the "traveler signal." It is my intention to show how this novel addresses the problem of "knowing" the essential unity of all things, including the self, and that there is also a clear pattern in the novel’s series of images of unity on various scales, from the minute through the human to the immense—and back to the minute. This exploration of scale is the function of the eponymous piece of hardware, the macroscope itself. The novel proceeds by analogy, setting up systems of different scales, systems that are ultimately different ways of knowing. The resultant epic assimilates all the analogies of scope in order to describe the unity of the galaxy.

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