Fairy-Tale Files, published once weekly, feature three variations of a fairy tale chosen by one of Fairy Tale Review’s editors.
In this Chinese fairy tale, collected by Moss Roberts in his Pantheon edition “Chinese Fairy Tales & Fantasies,” a woodsman finds and kills a deer, and then buries it, only to forget where he buried it. Soon he starts to believe it was all a dream. On his way home, he sings a little song about the deer, and another woodsman finds the body, brings it home to his wife, who starts off a rather existential debate over whose dream it actually was. When the first woodsman takes the second to court, it’s decided the deer should be divided among the two… because dreams are weird.
The 1971 novel The Lathe of Heaven, by science fiction-al great Ursula K. Le Guin, details the experiences of a man who starts to experience effective dreams—essentially, whatever happens in his dreams becomes the reality for everyone else, but he still remembers the world left behind. After taking copious amounts of drugs to prevent himself from dreaming (this is Portland, Oregon after all), George Orr begins working with William Haber, who begins to impart various changes of questionable veracity into George’s dream worlds, like creating a new reality where everyone has gray skin to avoid racism.
Back to division: In the “Switched at Birth” episode of the early ’90s ABC show Dinosaurs, the Sinclair’s discover evidence that their child might have been switched at birth with another. When the parents of each respective child can’t decide on who should keep which baby (the crass pink one or the polite green one), they visit Solomon the Great (voiced by Michael Dorn) and watch in horror (or at least enough horror as can be conveyed via those dinosaur suits) as their child is cut in two.
This edition of Fairy-Tale Files is brought to you by Fairy Tale Review Managing Editor Joel Hans.