I am in search of a particular short story by Ursula K. Le Guin that someone told me about. I don't know the title, but it features some sort of tiny black hole type thing that makes time seem to go faster. I heard it likened to people remarking that the year has gone by so fast. Thanks! :)

  • Are you sure it's by Le Guin? Looking at a list of her books, none seem to have a black hole.
    – user57650
    Dec 2, 2016 at 23:40
  • I mean, that's what I was told but maybe it isn't?
    – Dana
    Dec 2, 2016 at 23:43
  • I doubt it, but any somebody else can find it.
    – user57650
    Dec 2, 2016 at 23:48
  • That "quote" doesn't make a whole lot of sense since the affected people would not see any difference in their own experience. Provide more details please. Dec 3, 2016 at 4:02

1 Answer 1


I think this might be Some Approaches to the Problem of the Shortage of Time. It's in her anthology The Compass Rose.

[Incidentally, both of the stories quoted below were written as humorous pieces and never intended to be confused with actual science.]


The hypothesis put forward by James Osbold of the Lick Observatory, though magnificently comprehensive, presents certain difficulties to agencies seeking practical solutions to the problem. Divested of its mathematical formulation, Dr. Osbold’s theory may be described in very approximate terms as positing the existence of an anomaly in the space-time continuum. The cause of the anomaly is a failure of reality to meet the specifications of the General Theory of Relativity, although only in one minor detail. Its effect on the actual constitution of the universe is a local imperfection or flaw, that is, a hole in the continuum. The hole, according to Osbold’s calculations, is a distinctly spacelike hole. In this spatiality lies its danger, since the imbalance thus constituted in the continuum causes a compensatory influx from the timelike aspect of the cosmos. In other words, time is running out of the hole. This has probably been going on ever since the origin of the universe 12 to 15 billion years ago, but only lately has the leak grown to noticeable proportions. The propounder of the theory is not pessimistic, remarking that it might be even worse if the anomaly were in the timelike aspect of the continuum, in which case space would be escaping, possibly one dimension at a time, which would cause untold discomfort and confusion; although, Osbold adds, “In that event we might have time enough to do something about it.” Since the theory posits the hole’s location somewhere or other, Lick and two Australian observatories have arranged a coordinated search for local variations in the red shift which might aid in pinpointing the point/instant. “It may still be a very small hole,” Osbold says. “Quite tiny. It would not need to be very large to do a good deal of damage. But since the effect is so noticeable here on Earth, I feel we have a good chance of finding the thing perhaps no farther away than the Andromeda Galaxy, and then all we’ll need is what you might call a Dutch boy.”

It might also be Schrödinger's Cat, in the same anthology:

I suppose birds always tended to be that way, but even the hummingbird used to halt for a second in the very center of his metabolic frenzy, and hang, still as a hub, present, above the fuchsias—then gone again, but you knew something was there besides the blurring brightness. But it got so that even robins and pigeons, the heavy impudent birds, were a blur; and as for swallows, they cracked the sound barrier. You knew of swallows only by the small, curved sonic booms that looped about the eaves of old houses in the evening. Worms shot like subway trains through the dirt of gardens, among the writhing roots of roses.
You could scarcely lay a hand on children, by then: too fast to catch, too hot to hold. They grew up before your eyes.
But then, maybe that’s always been true.

  • Yes, the Little Tiny Hole Theory is what I was looking for! Thank you so much! :)
    – Dana
    Dec 3, 2016 at 7:43
  • @Dana: My pleasure. The Compass Rose is an often overlooked collection but it's one of my favorite Le Guin anthologies. Well worth seeking out.
    – Joe L.
    Dec 3, 2016 at 18:11

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