The Persistence of Vision (short story)

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The Persistence of Vision is a science fiction novella by John Varley. It won both the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1979. It was included in the anthology of the same name and in the The John Varley Reader.

The story is similar to Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein. Both authors had experiences that influenced and were influenced by hippy ideologies in the 1960s.

Plot summary[edit]

A keen drifter describes the dismal political state of the world. He encounters a commune of people who are blind, deaf, and mute. Much of the story details the culture and personal habits of the people, including the different levels of touch-based communication they use. The protagonist develops strong bonds with several of the members.

The commune's highest grade of communication attains an intense connection between each other. The people emphasize mutual understanding to overcome their physical limitations. Their rich use of unspoken language is able to establish intense clarity of others, one that cannot be attained using the senses of hearing and vision.