In what is perhaps the oddly greatest short short story ever written, The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, Ursula K. Le Guin presents a small, perfectly run little kingdom as a parable. The Kingdom, or city, is the character and the dilemma. It is fundamentally an ethical presentation. It is a great story that is not quite a story, and it asks as its whole conceit, plot, and character; is it ever worth victimizing one innocent for the good of the many?
It is sort of presented as an ethical dilemma, but in my opinion it is really a story, brief as it is, and as sad as it is, and as hopeful as it is, that also quietly answers that question "No. It isn't."
It's desperately sad but strangely beautiful.
I am very good at coming up with stories, in my head at the very least. But I never really imagined coming up with a story story for The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas. Neither did Ursula K. Le Guin apparently, when it really comes down to it. Maybe it seemed too hard. Maybe Ms. Le Guin had satisfied her precis. Nevertheless Naomi Novik pulled the whole thing out of her hat in The Scholomance Trilogy in a full fledged, baroque, fantastical, character driven articulation.
I think the very great author Ursula K. Le Guin would almost certainly have been immensely pleased with The Scholomance Trilogy. But if, on the strange, freakishly unlikely chance she wasn't...
She would have been wrong.