The Rose Essay - Critical Essays

Charles Harness


Anna needs Martha’s equations to complete her ballet, and Harness provides a scientific explanation for the “disease” through which Anna evolves: Communication through abstract arts such as music has stimulated the pineal gland into giving new powers to the brain. Nevertheless, The Rose values art over science. The novel shows that artistic communication develops the intellect and emotions and that to be human—and more than human—people must love.

In this theme, The Rose joins an empathy-centered tradition of science fiction that includes, for example, the work of Philip K. Dick. The Rose even can be read as a confrontation between two kinds of science fiction: hard science fiction (represented by Martha and rejected by Harness), wherein humanity uses science to shape the world in a human image, and soft science fiction (represented by Anna and embraced by Harness), wherein humanity uses art, psychology, love, and inner growth to shape itself to suit the world.

Because The Rose has few “space opera” features, such as galactic empires and time paradoxes, and few scientific explanations, it differs from Harness’ other fiction, such as “Time Trap” (1948). The Rose, however, initiates and develops several concerns that Harness explores repeatedly in his later science fiction: the importance of art and love to the human psyche, the relations between art and science, the possibility of...

(The entire section is 415 words.)