ColdCoffee31 t1_j40384a wrote

In an interview in the Paris Review, NK Jamison said:

“With Le Guin’s story, at the end of it, she’s suggesting that the only way to create a society that is a better place is to walk away from this one or to go off the grid. That’s not really what she’s saying, specifically, but that’s what a lot of people have concluded. But no, you’ve got to fix it, especially when there’s nowhere to walk away to. You go anywhere else in our current world and you’re either being completely exploited by capitalism or somewhat exploited by capitalism. So, I mean, it’s just a question of what kind of suffering you want to put yourself through.”

That comment (and others from the interview) demonstrate that Jemisin does get the original questions and points Leguin is trying to make with Omelas. It’s pretty easy to draw the line from Le Guin’s critique of our cultural mindset in Omelas (there’s that paragraph or two where she says the people are happy but she invents the suffering child because to us, we are unable to believe any society could be happy without at least someone suffering) to Jemisin’s argument that such a world with no widespread human-caused suffering or pain is something we have to fight to create and maintain. The title is in conversation with and exploring the meaning of “walking away.” I think Le Guin would agree considering she called Odo, the anti-capitalist revolutionary and founding member of the Anarchist society from The Dispossessed, “one who walked away from Omelas.” I can’t remember which essay she mentioned that in.