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1. Powers (Annals of the Western
2. Lavinia
3. Tehanu (The Earthsea Cycle, Book
4. Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book
5. The Dispossessed
6. Voices (Annals of the Western
7. The Left Hand of Darkness
8. Ursula K Le Guin: 5 Complete Novels
9. Worlds of Exile and Illusion:
10. Cat Dreams
11. The Dispossessed: A Novel (Perennial
12. The New Utopian Politics of Ursula
13. Gifts (Annals of the Western Shore)
14. Steering the Craft: Exercises
15. Political Theory, Science Fiction,
16. A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea
17. The Birthday of the World: And
18. The Lathe Of Heaven: A Novel
19. The Farthest Shore: Book Three
20. The Wave in the Mind: Talks and

1. Powers (Annals of the Western Shore)
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Paperback: 512 Pages (2009-04-06)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0152066748
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Young Gav can remember the page of a book after seeing it once, and, inexplicably, he sometimes "remembers" things that are going to happen in the future. As a loyal slave, he must keep these powers secret, but when a terrible tragedy occurs, Gav, blinded by grief, flees the only world he has ever known. And in what becomes a treacherous journey for freedom, Gav's greatest test of all is facing his powers so that he can come to understand himself and finally find a true home. Includes maps.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

3-0 out of 5 stars Not SciFi, Not really Fantasy either
I bought all 3 books at the same time and read them in proper sequence.I read all 3 in less than 2 weeks time.They are fairly short as novels go, with large print and wide spaced text.

The stories were nice, but none of the 3 had any science fiction in them at all.And even the 'fantasy' is never corroborated by the author.All references to any special powers in any of the books are related as stories, urban legends, and myths, by the characters.

These are simply fictional stories, set in an extremely Earth-like environment, with regular earth type people, and technology set at about 200-300 years ago.

I was disappointed overall as I kept expecting to find some science fiction and/or fantasy aspects.Some people might say there is some 'fantasy', with the voice powers and the book powers, but as I mentioned earlier, these are all related as myths and legends by the characters.Nothing actually OCCURS which can't very reasonably be explained as due to the actions of regular human beings.

5-0 out of 5 stars great seller, book, and transaction
i loved the the book and was so very pleased with the condition it came in and how quickly it arrived.great seller and hope to do business again with them.

4-0 out of 5 stars 3rd in Series
According to the book cover this was 3rd in the series, yet it was 100% stand alone, and no hint of missing information from other books.I like the setting of an ancient pre-Roman historical city, and tackling the issue of slavery, and psychic powers.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another excellent selection from UKL
All the books in the Annals of the Western Shore series are wonderful.They tell great stories, all by teenaged narrators, where words and writing play an essential part.

"Powers" introduces us to the City States, where slavery is a given and those born into it accept their situation as a fact of life.The story is told by Gavir, kidnapped into slavery as a youngster.This book tackles slavery, freedom, trust, and other sophisticated topics, yet keeps us engrossed from the first page.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best in the series so far
Powers is the third and, in my opinion, the best of the Annals of the Western Shore novels. In this book, we meet Gavir, a slave in the City State of Etra. Gavir was born in the marshes but was stolen, along with his sister, by slavers and brought to Etra. He has the power to clearly remember things he has seen before and even some events that have not yet happened to him. This power is not uncommon in the marshes, but the people of Etra fear powers, so his sister tells him not to speak of it. His memory, however, is prized by the household who owns him and he is being trained to be the teacher of the households' children. He is well treated (except by another slave who holds a grudge against him), well educated, and happy.

But things go awry and Gavir ends up on a journey in which he encounters different people, ideas, and cultures. And this is what Ursula Le Guin does so well. She makes us believe in these cultures, perhaps even admire them, and then, without explicitly telling us so, she show us that there are always negative sides to an apparently perfect society. And, without telling us to do it, she makes us think about such constructs as freedom, slavery, justice, leadership, work, loyalty, and education. We find ourselves asking some tough questions: What is the value of a slave's life? Is it better to be an educated, happy, and comfortable slave, or to be cold, hungry, ignorant, and free? Is true democracy possible? Or even desirable? What is the value of an education in a society or job that doesn't require it? Is ignorance bliss?

Le Guin's Western Shore novels are books for those who want to think about our own world while they read. They're not escapist literature -- there aren't sword fights and dragons and quests for magic talismans. Instead, there are issues to think about and questions to ask .... but not necessarily answers. And this is all done, of course, in Le Guin's perfect polished prose.

Each of the Western Shore novels stands alone, but the reader who reads them in order will appreciate them more because references are made to previously seen characters and societies. In some cases, we see characters and societies we experienced in one novel from a different perspective in another, and this adds to the complexity and depth of this world.

I listened to this on audiobook and was impressed with the production. I recommend this format for the Western Shore novels. ... Read more

2. Lavinia
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Paperback: 288 Pages (2009-04-10)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$2.43
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156033682
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

In The Aeneid, Vergil’s hero fights to claim the king’s daughter, Lavinia, with whom he is destined to found an empire. Lavinia herself never speaks a word. Now, Ursula K. Le Guin gives Lavinia a voice in a novel that takes us to the half-wild world of ancient Italy, when Rome was a muddy village near seven hills.

Lavinia grows up knowing nothing but peace and freedom, until suitors come. Her mother wants her to marry handsome, ambitious Turnus. But omens and prophecies spoken by the sacred springs say she must marry a foreigner—that she will be the cause of a bitter war—and that her husband will not live long. When a fleet of Trojan ships sails up the Tiber, Lavinia decides to take her destiny into her own hands. And so she tells us what Vergil did not: the story of her life, and of the love of her life.
Lavinia is a book of passion and war, generous and austerely beautiful, from a writer working at the height of her powers.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (53)

5-0 out of 5 stars Lovely and Compelling
This lovely book touches upon a character barely describe in the Aeneid. LeGuin brings Lavinia and pre-Roman Italy alive, giving her depth and a life beyond those spare words of Virgil. Once again LeGuin's careful research yields a richly detailed story, taking us into the rituals, both large and small, of long-gone people. She brings to life the daily activities as well as a richness of the mythology and poetry the subjects are drawn from. This is an entirely enjoyable read!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Heroine for the Ages
As so many people do, I remember Ursula K. LeGuin's best for her Earthsea Trilogy, which I discovered in 1974 by sheer accident -- I think I found it browsing at my local library walking home from school -- and the story stuck in my head all these long years until I had children of my own, at which point I bought copies of the entire cycle for them. In the interim, of course, two more books had been added to the cycle, so I took the liberty of reading those, and was impressed again (albeit in a different way) with LeGuin's talent and staying power. Though the stories are aimed at children, they're really only "sort-of" aimed at them -- the subject matter and moral of the tales can be appreciated just as well by grown ups, as the themes of greed and power and the necessity for keeping the Equilibrium ring true for adults just as they do for children, and can be appreciated in a different way with some experience of the world.

So much for my preface. Having recently been re-exposed to LeGuin's work, I was favorably disposed to her when I noticed that she had a new novel out. I bought it without even reading the blurb, and started reading it without knowing anything about it, and started to love it before I realized it was telling the story of the Aeneid from a different perspective. If you read the Aeneid in college, you will no doubt recall the story, but LeGuin's retelling of the tale has a power that the poem doesn't -- perhaps because as prose it's more accessible to (most) modern readers -- and I enjoyed reading it much more than I remember enjoying reading Virgil in translation.

On balance, I think LeGuin has been unfairly pigeon-holed as a writer of children's tales and a niche writer of fantasy. She's much more of a myth-maker, a modern story-spinner in the tradition of the Brothers Grimm, and her work has an ease and grace that perhaps deceives people into thinking it's not really literature. It is -- it undeniably is. This is simply a great book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Confirms Le Guin's esteemed talent
I write very few reviews yet this book inspired me to do so. I have always enjoyed Le Guin's writing, her strong female characters, and her poetry in prose. This novel leaves me speechless. I can not begin to describe the joy and sadness that I experienced vicariously through Lavinia. She is not only the main character in this book, but she is real to me. I feel after reading this book that I've had a glimpse into the founding of Rome. The homeland of my ancestors is Italy, I may very well take my next vacation there to find and to feel some of these places.This book was that powerful. Thank you.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not Her Standard Fare
This novel was another well-written book that could only be the result of LeGuin's fusion of her intelligent imagination, detailed research, and able integration of cultural details regarding day-to-day life.It is a pleasure to read even if you aren't familiar with the Aeneid (I have only scant knowledge of it).
For this long-time fan of LeGuin's, I found her usual underprinning of Tao philosophy well replaced with the religiuous experience of the early Latins (though without the sense of a practitioner).
Some readers may find the interaction with the poet and discussion of flash forwards a distraction they could live without.I think they help remind us of the authors' creation and how it relates to the epic poem.LeGuin's discussion in the afterword should resolve any lingering issues of her choices and direction for this work.It fits well with her earlier critical discussions/essays on her work.
LeGuin again proves that the best "formula" is a well-told story.Give this one its due (a second reading also bares this out).

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
I like Ursula Le Guin's writing style, but have often found it difficult to get into her plots or to like her characters. In retelling The Aeneid, Le Guin takes likable characters and expands upon their stories beautifully. She captures the place, time, culture, and beliefs of the people with lovely descriptions and warmth. She fleshes out incidents that Virgil recounted in brief, and trims down his gory descriptions of battle (although these are still present).

While fantastical, this book is also interesting for historical reasons, and those who enjoyed Virgil's Aeneid should enjoy the honor paid him throughout the book. (I loved his several appearances.) Even those who haven't read the Aeneid should resonate to Lavinia and Aeneas, two strong and likable characters who are so well suited to each other. ... Read more

3. Tehanu (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 4)
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Paperback: 288 Pages (2004-11-23)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$3.11
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1416509631
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Book Four of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Cycle

Years ago, they had escaped together from the sinister Tombs of Atuan -- she, an isolated young priestess; he, a powerful wizard. Now she is a farmer's widow, having chosen for herself the simple pleasures of an ordinary life. And he is a broken old man, mourning the powers lost to him through no choice of his own.

Once, when they were young, they helped each other at a time of darkness and danger and shared an adventure like no other. Now they must join forces again, to help another in need -- the physically and emotionally scarred child whose own destiny has yet to be revealed.

With millions of copies sold worldwide, Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Cycle has earned a treasured place on the shelves of fantasy lovers everywhere, alongside the works of such beloved authors as J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.Amazon.com Review
Ursula K. LeGuin follows her classic trilogy from Earthsea with amagical tale that won the 1991 Nebula Award for Science Fiction. Unlike thetales in the trilogy, this novel is short and concise, yet it is by no meanssimplistic. Promoted as a children's book because of the awards garnered inthat category by her previous work, Tehanu transcends classificationand shows the wizardry of female magic. The story involves a middle-age widowwho sets out to visit her dying mentor and eventually cares for his favoritestudent. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (158)

1-0 out of 5 stars Why oh why did she do this?
Speechless.One of my all time favorite collection of books, ending with one of the worst books I've ever read.Painfully bad.REALLY boring.Transparently trying to get people to read a political agenda.In Earthsea???Why?So more people read it?Just...so sad.

This should have been a treatsie written in a web blog somewhere.

I'm not saying her ideas have no merit - just that they have no place in the magical realm of Earthsea.Especially when the agenda is shoved down the reader's throat in such a transparent, "unmagical", and utterly uninspiring way.

5-0 out of 5 stars Better than previous books
I prefer fantasy novels grounded in reality, which is why Tehanu appeals to me more than the previous Earthsea books. While the trilogy excelled as an epic adventure, this book shows the less glamorous side of life in Earthsea, through a different viewpoint. Wizards and heroes might have taken all the limelight in the previous books, but they are not the only inhabitants of Earthsea. In Tehanu, we get to experience the world Le Guin had imagined through the lives of its more ordinary residents. And it is precisely this experience that brings the world to life.

People expecting more fantastic world-building will probably be disappointed, as this story is more character driven. To me, however, the mundane elements are also a necessary part of world-building, as they reveal problems that may have been hidden by all the glamor. The author explores gender issues, questioning why women cannot become mages. The political angle fits into the narration gracefully.

In summary, this is not an escapist novel, but one that makes you feel and think. The author depicts a realistic world, with problems that resonate with our own.

4-0 out of 5 stars Tehanu
Tehanu returns us to the world of Earthsea, to the time after the The Farthest Shore and The Tombs of Atuan. Tenar has grown older, had a family, and is now a widower when she received an urgentl from Sparrowhawk's former mentor Ogion, the mage that took her in when she first came to the area. As she journeys to her cottage we are introduced to the little girl Therru, marked by horrible tragedy and evil.

While at Ogion's cottage, Sparrowhawk returns to Tenar, but he returns scarred and damaged, missing part of himself. Tenar, Sparrowhawk, and little Therru make a life journey together to put the pieces of themselves back together and bring the work back to a better place.

This book was a fantastic read. it gave me what I've always wanted at the end of a series....just one more book. A book to show me how they ended up, what their family was like, and who would continue on after them. Tenar and Ged (also called Sparrowhawk), reunited after many years, are still the same characters I had grown to love in the earlier books. Only this time they are wiser, and will need to use all of their wisdom to help little Therru. Therru drew my sympathy from the start, and I admired her spirit and her tenacity to overcome her difficulties. This was a great addition to the Earthsea Cycle.


4-0 out of 5 stars Real Fantasy
The vehemence of some of the negative reviews of this book baffles me.It doesn't have to have a feminist agenda for a story to look at things from the point of view of a gifted, intelligent woman frustrated with the way her femaleness makes it more difficult for her to use her gifts.It also makes a lot of sense for the story to have a slower pace and to deal with the years of preparation, nurture, teaching and encouragement that prepare an individual for the bigger events in life--a reminder that greatness doesn't occur in a vacuum.It makes sense for this to happen in a book with a more feminine slant, because it's often women who do more of the behind-the-scenes nurturing.It's a nice reminder that the day-to-day tasks and events that seem so slow, mundane and thankless often have an impact that's not so obvious but is still essential for good to triumph over evil.
Ged's time of withdrawal and recovery is also a wonderful portrayal of what it's like for someone who spends all they have and are to fight an evil, and afterwards, at least for a time, is dramatically different than they were before.The issue of learning to respect oneself again after losing the power that was part of one's identity is a poignant and powerful one encountered by many in real life.And if fantasy doesn't seem real, it's not very good fantasy, is it?

4-0 out of 5 stars A Slower, more contemplative look at Earthsea

From all I had heard about this book before reading it, I expected a much slower and less action-packed tale than the previous Earthsea novels presented. This expectation made it much easier to accept the novel as it was than it would have been if I had come in expecting another epic journey as presented in A Wizard of Earthsea or The Farthest Shore.

By keeping the story within a smaller scope, LeGuin actually makes her milieu seem more authentic than it ever has been: she demonstrates that there is more to life in Earthsea than the travails of wizards, and that her fantasy world is not free of sweat, grime, and monotonous daily routines. Because the setting is less extravagant, the novel, more than any of the previous installments, succeeds on the depth of its characters and the strength of the philosophical questions it proposes.

By making Tenar the primary viewpoint character, LeGuin allows the reader is able to empathize with Tenar's struggle to understand and help both Therru and Ged. Tenar, like the reader, doesn't understand all the rules of magical world she lives in, and yet is desperately trying to be a compassionate person within that world. Another part of her appeal is that she is clever enough to question the foundations of magic that Ged, and the reader, have taken for granted -- to consider the order Ged represents, and wonder whether that order is unchangeable or malleable. What does it mean for a woman to have magical power in a world where mages have historically been men? More importantly, why have mages historically been men?

It is this exploration of gender roles which makes Tehanu a fascinating read. LeGuin only raises these questions, allowing the reader to ponder them for him or herself. My hope is that she revisits these issues in The Other Wind, as I think they deserve deeper examination. As it stands, I give her credit for examining the parameters of her milieu in a way I haven't seen any other fantasy author do. However, it is ultimately Tenar's attempts to guide Therru and Ged through their trauma, and the joy she finds with both of them, which makes the novel an emotionally fulfilling read. ... Read more

4. Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Hardcover: 192 Pages (2009-10-13)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$10.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1590307445
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Ursula K. Le Guin, a student of the Tao Te Ching for more than fifty years, offers her own thoughtful rendering of the Taoist scripture. She has consulted the literal translations and worked with the scholar J. P. Seaton to develop a version that lets the ancient text speak in a fresh way to modern people, while remaining faithful to the original Chinese. This rendition reveals the Tao Te Ching’s immediate relevance and power, its depth and refreshing humor, illustrating better than ever before why it has been so loved for more than 2,500 years. Included are Le Guin’s own personal commentary and notes along with two audio CDs of the text read by the author, with original music composed and performed by Todd Barton.Amazon.com Review
Like Stephen Mitchell, acclaimed author and poet Ursula K. LeGuin has attempted a nonliteral, poetic rendition of the Tao Te Ching.She brings to it a punctuated grace that can only have been hammered outduring long trials of wordsmithing. The wisdom that she finds in theTao Te Ching is primal, and her spare, undulating phrases speakvolumes.By making the text her own, Le Guin avoids such questions as"Is it accurate?" By making it her own, she has made it for us--a new,uncarved block from which we are free to sculpt our own meaning. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (28)

5-0 out of 5 stars Captures the spirit of the Tao
This is the most rewarding version of the Tao Te Ching I have come across.It brings the book to life, and makes it more understandable. For example, some lines in the first chapter readas follows:
So the unwanting soul
sees what's hidden,
and the ever-wanting soul
sees only what it wants.
These lines are rendered incomprehensibleto me in other translations.Le Guin allows us to get more out of Taoism.A must read for anyone interested in Taoism.

5-0 out of 5 stars The power of the Tao
This book represents, not another translation of what must be one of the most translated books in existence, but rather the careful reworking of it, by one of America's excellent writers.Ursula Le Guin is well known for her literary achievements.With this small volume she takes the first steps on the road that, if it can be walked on, is not the true (or real) road.She does a marvellous job with the verses and makes poignent -and sometimes pungent - notes.Hearing her read the text, which is contained on two CD's which come with the book, is a wonderful opportunity for the reader to experience a whole new dimension of this material.I would recommend this book to anyone with even the slightest
in it, even if they are very familiar with other versions of it.

2-0 out of 5 stars There are better versions
I bought this book because I read verse 1, and it had an interesting take on that verse.

Reading the other verses later, it unfortunately in my view overall did not reach the same level of quality as other renditions or translations of this classic work.

So, you may be wondering, if not this book, which version?

My personal favorite is the Stephen Mitchell, the first one I purchased.
It's use of language is simply brilliant, and inspiring, and opened my mind up to new levels of understanding, new ways of looking, and after I read it several times I had new and better perceptions. I have given this book as a present to several people.

Of the other popular versions I own, the Star version is a translation directly from Chinese.If you buy this book it has Chinese symbols at back with multiple possible meanings and words for each symbol. This broadens your potential understanding, and would enable you to write your own version of the Tao.I like his version a lot.

The Jane English version is also very popular and of a similar standard to the above two.Wayne Dyer has also done a creditable version.

If you are a Dyer fan, he has also recently put out a book Change your thoughts, Change your Life.This is the Tao with several pages of explanation on each verse.I have bought this gift for my sister who is a Dyer fan. If you are new to the Tao, I recommend a version without essays, and gain your own understanding from your own discernment before looking at other people's opinions.Dyer has an earlier version also without essays.

If you have not read other versions of this book, you might actually like Le Guin's version.

I hope this was helpful.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
One great way for non-Chinese speakers to appreciate the nature of this book is to compare many different translations and see how different they can be.I've read any number of translations of the Dao De Jing, and this is by far my favorite.Most of them tend to be pretty academic, which certainly has it's value, but Ms. Le Guin demonstrates an genuine affection for this work that comes through on every page.She gives each verse a warm, personal feel without sacrificing any of the paradox or mysticism.

Also, since she is more of a poet than an academic, her translation is a joy to read, while still being insightfully elucidated by her comments.I'd still recommend reading other versions, but if you're only going to get one, make it this one.

5-0 out of 5 stars A translation that maintains the heart and soul of the Master
Ursula le Guin captured the essence and poetry of the original without losing the focus and foresight of the original. Long one of my favorite fiction writers, le Guin drew on her ability to envision different worlds and exotic cultures to bring the words of an ancient Chinese philosopher into the 21st Century.

Many translations of the Tao Te Ching are on the market, few worth the paper wasted printing them. I've read most of them and found them severely lacking; they either mistranslate or distort the Chinese to maintain an artificial poetic meter or lose both poetry and meter with a literal translation. Le Guin's version maintains both intact with sublime success. I recommend it highly. Tao Te Ching aficionados, students of Chinese philosophy, poetry lovers, and curious readers will all take pleasure in this skilled translation. ... Read more

5. The Dispossessed
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Mass Market Paperback: 400 Pages (1994-12-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061054887
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. he will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life. Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian mother planet, Anarres, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (105)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great book - spoilt by poor editing/presentation
The action is set on two sister planets, with alternating chapters on each. The hero, a brilliant mathematician/physicist/philisopher, explores the nature and consequences of two political systems, their good and bad points - Capitalism and true 'Communism' verging on anarchy; there is even a brief, chilling view of our own future world in which the consequences of unrestrained consumerism has left a drastically reduced society ruled by an autocracy in a landscape become hopelessly degraded.
In my opinion "Dispossessed", written in 1974, should be 'up there' amongst the great satires of our literature (Gulliver's Travels,Animal Farm and 1984)instead of stuck away with poor science fiction as implied by the cover. My enjoyment of the text was seriously impeded by poor editing, horrible type face/page layout and misleading cover. Maybe I should have gone for the hard-cover version.

4-0 out of 5 stars Dry and maybe implausible, but thought-provoking
Although The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopiais classified as science fiction, it is hardly a novel about aliens and space travel. Rather, it is a speculative work of fiction that explores the possibility of existence and limitations of a completely anarchist society.

At the center of the novel is the planet Anarres. Annares is populated by a community of anarchists, whose ascendants have left Anarres's sister planet Urras almost 200 years prior to escape its oppressive regimes and to establish a new society built on the principles of freedom, brotherhood, and complete anarchy. At this point Annaresti are isolated from and have no contact with Urras.

At first, Anarres does seem like a utopia - no Annaresti is a subject to any law (they simply do not exist). Citizens of Anarres have a total freedom - sexual freedom, freedom of occupation, freedom to pursue their interests anywhere on the planet, freedom to work or not work at all. No one on Anarres owns anything, all property is communal. Even children do not "belong" to their parents, but raised in dormitories by volunteer teachers. There are no prisons or law enforcement on Anarres, because 1) there are no laws to be broken, and 2) if there is no private property, no power struggles, no sexual and physical abuse - there are no reasons to be imprisoned.

As the story unfolds however, we see the other side of this society through the eyes of the novel's protagonist - a genius physicist Shevek. Shevek's is the plight of a person of outstanding abilities in a socialist world. Having a knowledge that could possibly bring together the societies all over the universe, he is unable to explore his theories on a planet where resources (including intellectual resources) are limited. He decides to go against the rest of Anarresti people and seek intellectual companionship on Urras. Can Urras give him what he seeks? Will his opinion of his mother planet change once he finds out what they all are missing out on? It is through Shevek's memories of Anarres do we see the weaknesses and strengths of the planet's chosen ideology.

I have to say, although The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia is a fascinating novel, I liked it much less than The Left Hand of Darkness. It is simply too dry and too didactic.

The best part of the book is, of course, Anarresti form of socialist anarchy. Ursula K. Le Guin's ideas of how such society might function are inventive and daring. But did I ever believe that an anarchist society can exist? Not for a minute. I think thousands of years of human history are on my side. I can't believe in a human society that rejects even the basic idea of family, because supposedly to be a dedicated parent to one's child is to be a proprietor, an egoist, a privateer. What can possibly hold people together except an elusive concept of "brotherhood" in a place like Anarres? It is also simply impossible for people to co-exist and cooperate without someone striving for power. It is a part of human nature. IMO in reality Anarres would be able to exist as anarchy for no longer than a generation. Once the staunch idealists are dead, any group of people will eventually settle into one of the more efficient orders - be that a democracy, dictatorship, theocracy, oligarchy - basically any social order with a power structure at its core.

Nevertheless, as a work of speculative fiction The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia is an interesting book to wrap one's mind around.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Classic of Speculative Fiction
Science fiction is no stranger to social commentary nor to utopias/dystopias. The structure of the totalitarian state has been dissected so thoroughly now by various writers in the sci-fi tradition that it has become just another piece of furniture in the world of science fiction. But there has been a distinct lack of good science fiction that has analyzed the structure and mechanics of the anarchistic society. Among a few short stories, the two that really stand out are Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Ursula K. LeGuin's The Dispossessed. These two works, of course, cover opposite ends of the spectrum of anarchy: Heinlein the anarcho-capitalist side and LeGuin the anarcho-syndicalist side. LeGuin's novel is far superior in this aspect, to my mind, because of its thorough and non-ideological analysis of the good and bad aspects of this society. It is by far the most honest and compelling analysis of an anarchy that I have ever seen. Even better is Le Guin's ability to extrapolate and discuss the underlying philosophical framework of this society. There is a scarcely a more compelling creation in all of fiction.

The plot is straight-forward enough: over a hundred years prior to the start of the novel a communist revolution, led by a woman named Odo, swept the world of Urras. Rather than waste time and resources waging a bloody war against them, the council of world governments on Urras decided to let the revolutionaries claim their uninhabited desert moon, Anarres. The revolutionaries built a utopian anarchistic society on the moon and, for the next hundred or so years the two worlds have built walls of hatred and distrust between one-another (yes, this novel is, in part, a cold war allegory). This wall of separation is breached and challenged by a Anarrestian physicist, Shevek, who wants to find common ground in-between the two worlds.

This book is not perfect, however. While she does many things right (her beautiful writing style; her storytelling abilities; her realistic and fully-developed characters; a novel structure that jumps between two time-lines and which expertly interweave; her compelling look at the world of the Anarresti), other aspects aren't up to par. The story, for one thing, seems to run out of energy near the end, and it is if Le Guin did not know how to end her novel. There is little to no plot resolution. The only lesson the main character learns from his quest seems to be that the entire thing was a bad idea (you could make the case that he understands his role in the "social organism" of Anarres better, and that the trip was a necessary revolutionary action, but one shouldn't have to read so far into the story to justify the lack of necessary resolution by the author). So while the characters grow and learn, the story as a whole seems to just lose energy and fall over. Moreover, while Anarres is fascinating, the world of Urras is merely a foil and reads like a bad parody of nineteenth century Britain. LeGuin makes Anarres complex and fascinating, but she seems content to leave the Urrasti as caricatures of a very simplistic (and thus problematic) socialist worldview. She doesn't challenge herself by creating a complex capitalistic society and then looking at its positive and negative traits, as she does with the communists on Anarres. Instead, she creates a society so shallow, socially stratified, and brutal that almost anyone would want out. It's as if she chose Chile under Pinochet as representative of all 'archist' or even capitalistic societies.

For its faults, however, this is still a fascinating, complex, and thought-provoking read, wherever you are on the political spectrum.

5-0 out of 5 stars A masterwork of the genre
I read The Dispossessed back in college and have re-read it many times and remain spellbound and captivated by Le Guin's storytelling. Arguably her finest work, its tale of a desert-like Socialist-style communal world contrasted against its parent planet of rich resources and warring nations remains as relevant today as it did when published nearly four decades ago. An absolute must-have on any science-fiction reader's shelf -- but also required reading for any student of history, culture or society. Works of such insight, beauty, and intelligence are rare gems, and the genre is blessed to count this one among its number.

3-0 out of 5 stars Why is this under Science Fiction?
I like sci-fi, and I like good novels, that are not sci-fi.

This is a good novel, but where is the science? It's about 2 different government systems - think cold war; East v West and a person that is brought up knowing only communal type living who is transported to a world of free enterprise.

It's a political novel, worth reading, but not that great. Maybe it's a little dated and would get another * if brought into the C21st, or even the future. ... Read more

6. Voices (Annals of the Western Shore)
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Paperback: 360 Pages (2008-04-01)
list price: US$7.95 -- used & new: US$1.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0152062424
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Ansul was once a peaceful town filled with libraries, schools, and temples. But that was long ago, and the conquerors of this coastal city consider reading and writing to be acts punishable by death. And they believe the Oracle House, where the last few undestroyed books are hidden, is seething with demons. But to seventeen-year-old Memer, the house is the only place where she feels truly safe.
Then an Uplands poet named Orrec and his wife, Gry, arrive, and everything in Memer's life begins to change. Will she and the people of Ansul at last be brave enough to rebel against their oppressors?
Includes an interview with the author and a teaser to the third book in the series, Powers.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars great seller, book, and transaction
book was in wonderful condition, the story fantastic and i have nothing but praise for the seller.my order arrived quickly and the entire transaction was proffessional.

1-0 out of 5 stars Waste of time
My 12 year old daughter checked this book out from her school library.She is a high honor 7th grade student.She has to read and take tests on different books.Once she picks a book, she has to finish it to meet her deadlines.Her teacher recommended this book to her.She is almost finished with this book.She "hates" it.It makes her feel uncomfortable to read about demons and evil powers.She stated if she could give it less than one star, she would.Do not recommend.Very strange.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good book, I should probably have started with book one.
So, apparently Ursula K. Le Guin has started a new series, and I started reading it on book two.Oh well, it was good anyway.This is a book about literacy and its place in a culture.For such a topic, I can think of no better author than Le Guin, so of course, it's going to work out OK.

Voices starts after a war and focuses on a young girl (Memer) that survived the massacre.She is befriended by an elder and taught to read, which is frowned upon by the invaders.The book then goes on to explore the culture, which is necessary to understand the coming conflict.Once the cultures are adequetly explained, and Memer's role within the oppressed society is understood, the two cultures are brought into conflict through the foil of an outsider.After everything, that occurs, rationality prevails and things settle down and end appropriately.

To describe it like this makes it sound boring, and by many other authors, it likely would be.However, Le Guin has the skill to pull of drama and excitement without resorting to the commonly used stereotypes
that appear in genre fiction.There are no misunderstands and communication difficulties that create the drama.There's none of the "hot-headed kid gets into trouble and out again" that so often appears in bo
oks of this type.Each character reacts appropriately according to their culture, logic and views of right and wrong.

This is book that is clearly fiction, but feels real.It's well written, well paced and ends well.It ends with unanswered questions, but I expect that those will be answered by other books in the series.It seems to be aimed at younger readers, but it doesn't read any poorer for being aimed a tad lower.I'm going to have to get the other books in this series.

5-0 out of 5 stars Voices: 4 1/2 stars -- Better than Gifts
I'm happy to report that I enjoyed Voices much more than Gifts.

In this story of the Western Shore, we meet Memer, a 17 year old girl -- a "siege-brat" -- who lives in the occupied land of Ansul, a city of people who used to be peaceful, prosperous, and educated but who were overtaken 17 years ago by the illiterate Alds who consider all writing to be demonic. All of the Ansul literature, history, and other books were drowned ... except for a small collection of books that has been saved and hidden in a secret room in the house of Galvamand and can only be accessed by the last two people in the Galva household -- Sulter Galva (the Waylord) and Memer, whose mother was a Galva.

One day, the Maker and orator Orrec, and his wife Gry, (from Gifts) come to town, stay at Galvamand, and recite to the people of Ansul and their Ald overlord, the Gand Ioratth. When Orrec recites ancient epics and poetry, including some of Ansul's own hymns, the Gand is moved, the Ansul people are stirred to revolution, and Ioratth's son and the Ald priests are stirred to wrath. The people of Ansul have to decide whether to revolt or to try to negotiate peacefully with the softening Gand. The situation brings up realistic (rather than fantastical) ideas about the nature of freedom, revolution, and whether it might sometimes be better to compromise, rather than fight to the death, with people who control your destiny.

The pace of Voices is slow and the entire story takes place in approximately a one-mile radius so there's not much action but, as usual for an Ursula Le Guin novel, the power is in the writing -- it's moving and filled with insight into the human mind and our ideas of art, literature, culture, and patriotism. She doesn't just tell a story, but she gives us a full emotional experience and a lot to think about:

"My mother's name was Decalo Galva. I want to tell of her, but I can't remember her. Or I do but the memory won't go into words. Being held tight, jostling, a good smell in the darkness of the bed, a rough red cloth, a voice which I can't hear but it's only just out of hearing. I used to think if I could hold still and listen hard enough, I'd hear her voice."

"I wonder if men find it easier than women do to consider people not as bodies, as lives, but as numbers, figures, toys of the mind to be pushed about a battleground of the mind. This disembodiment gives pleasure, exciting them and freeing them to act for the sake of acting, for the sake of manipulating the figures, the game pieces. Love of country, or honor, or freedom, then, may be names they give that pleasure to justify it to the gods and to the people who suffer and kill and die in the game. So those words -- love, honor, freedom -- are degraded from their true sense. Then people may come to hold them in contempt as meaningless, and poets must struggle to give them back their truth."

It was good to meet Orrec and Gry again and to see how Orrec was using his talents. It wasn't necessary to have read Gifts first, but it gave me greater enjoyment to understand Orrec's past. I listened to Voices on audiobook. The reader was flawless and added much energy and emotion to the telling. I recommend this format for Voices. --FanLit.net

5-0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too
A companion novel to Le Guin's GIFTS, VOICES looks in on the life of a teen growing up in a city controlled by an enemy people. Memer has never known a life when hostile soldiers didn't patrol the streets and the possession of a book was not a crime punishable by death. The invading army believes that written words are evil, and that the city of Ansul is full of demons. But Memer knows that the Waylord, the man who raised her after her mother's death, has a hidden library in his house. There, he teaches her to read, and then, to use her understanding to help the city face its greatest crisis.

For a novel that has a lot to do with story-telling and reading, VOICES has more action and excitement than readers might expect. The arrival of Orrec, a great storyteller (and the narrator of GIFTS), rekindles the courage of Ansul's people, and they attempt to rebel against their oppressors. Memer finds herself caught in the middle, torn between her loyalty to the Waylord, who wishes to find a peaceful solution, and her hatred for the soldiers who destroyed so many things that she treasured. With many twists and turns along the way, VOICES delivers a conclusion that is both satisfying and unpredictable.

Perhaps the strongest element of the novel, however, is the way it moves from black and white to shades of gray. Orrec believes that all people have some good in them, and as Memer is forced to get to know the invaders she despises, she realizes that they are not all terrible and cruel. Some of them are simply different, and unable to understand her way of life. The message seems to be that it is far better to reach an understanding with others, even if you dislike them, than to take revenge. In a time when cultural and religious clashes make news almost every day, this should hit home with many readers.

VOICES is not a perfect book. It slows down a little more than I'd have liked before reaching its conclusion, and Memer was not as active in those events as I expect from a main character. But those flaws are minor compared to everything else about the novel: the distinctive setting and culture, the vivid language and personalities, and a voice that suggests, softly, without preaching, that there is more than one way to win a war.

Reviewed by:Lynn Crow ... Read more

7. The Left Hand of Darkness
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Paperback: 320 Pages (2000-07-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$6.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0441007317
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year

A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can change their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters. Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.

"As profuse and original in invention as The Lord of the Rings." --Michael Moorcock

"What got to me was the quality of the storytelling. She's taken the mythology, psychology--the entire creative surround--and woven it into a jewel of a story." --Frank Herbert

"Evocative." --The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

"An instant classic." --Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"[A] science fiction masterpiece." --NewsweekAmazon.com Review
Genly Ai is an emissary from the human galaxy to Winter, alost, stray world. His mission is to bring the planet back into thefold of an evolving galactic civilization, but to do so he must bridgethe gulf between his own culture and prejudices and those that heencounters. On a planet where people are of no gender--or both--thisis a broad gulf indeed. The inventiveness and delicacy with which LeGuin portrays her alien world are not only unusual and inspiring, theyare fundamental to almost all decent science fiction that has beenwritten since. In fact, reading Le Guin again may cause the eye tonarrow somewhat disapprovingly at the younger generation: what newground are they breaking that is not already explored here withgreater skill and acumen? It cannot be said, however, that this is arollicking good story. Le Guin takes a lot of time to explore hercharacters, the world of her creation, and the philosophical themesthat arise.

If there were a canon of classic science fiction, The Left Hand ofDarkness would be included without debate. Certainly, no sciencefiction bookshelf may be said to be complete without it. But the realquestion: is it fun to read? It is science fiction of an earlier time,a time that has not worn particularly well in the genre. The LeftHand of Darkness was a groundbreaking book in 1969, a time when,like the rest of the arts, science fiction was awakening to newdimensions in both society and literature. But the first excursionsout of the pulp tradition are sometimes difficult to reread with muchenjoyment. Rereading The Left Hand of Darkness, decades afterits publication, one feels that those who chose it for the Hugo and Nebulaawards were right to do so, for it truly does stand out as one of thegreat books of that era. It is immensely rich in timeless wisdom andinsight.

The Left Hand of Darkness is science fiction for the thinkingreader, and should be read attentively in order to properly savor thedepth of insight and the subtleties of plot and character. It is oneof those pleasures that requires a little investment at the beginning,but pays back tenfold with the joy of raw imagination that resonatesthrough the subsequent 30 years of science fiction storytelling. Notonly is the bookshelf incomplete without owning it, so is the readerwithout having read it.--L. Blunt Jackson ... Read more

Customer Reviews (217)

5-0 out of 5 stars Interesting
I read this novel after it was recommended as a novel involving a matriarchal society. While the Gethenians aren't matriarchal, (that would pre-supposed they had one main gender which they do not) they are hermaphroditic, it was still an excellent recommendation. This novel was written in the 60's and was cutting edge for the time, exploring the perception and bias of gender, the ecology of a world where gender is not set and where temperatures are often below zero, and the fact that much of humanity's struggles are driven by gender and perceived differences.

The main character is a nebulous man by the name of Genry. I say nebulous, because it takes a while before you even know Genry's gender. It is narrated in the first person, and switches between Genry and the Gethenian chamberlain Estraven, who is a likeable man that Genry believes has betrayed him.

I really liked the character of Estraven, the former chamberlain, and the Gethenian who risks everything to help Genry. The understated attraction between Estraven and Genry was both poignant and at times frustrating as the author fails to explore the intense feelings between these two beyond, simple attraction.Still he remains a loyal friend to Genry, who constantly misjudges him and assumes the worst about him until midpoint in the book.

One weakness of the story was that I felt Le Guin failed to describe her main characters in any way so that I could get an idea of what they looked like. The main character is stocky and brown-skinned, and young seeming, but I have no clue about Estraven other than at times he is described as dark, and sometimes plump, other times thin. I never really got a feel for how the Gethenian looked (aside from their absence of gender).

I felt the ending was a tad weak, and the tragic elements a bit senseless. Nevertheless, this was an enjoyable book.

5-0 out of 5 stars lives up to its great reputation
I bought this book, as it is listed as one of the all time great Sci-fi/fantasy books and I feel it totally earns
its place.It may be a bit slow (but not tedious) for some people, but it is very fascinating. The world is fully realized and
the anthropological study of the planet and its inhabitants is so well done.You really like and understand the main characters
and there are just so many layers (comments on gender, oppression, human behavior, etc).It's more 'egg-head' sci-fi
than action/adventure, but does evoke emotion as well as deep thought.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the most brilliant books ever wrote
Ursula Le Guin truly outdid herself with this book.From the complex but brilliant plot-line, to the depth and intensity built into her characters; This book is hard to put down once started.Le Guin uses this book to explore the impact of sexual tension, and how it affects our entire social structure.To do so, she takes us to the planet Winter, where all the citizens are hermaphroditic.On this planet, the reader follows the struggles of an 'emissary'; a man sent to Winter in order to try and get the citizens of the planet to join an intergalactic 'family'.On this trip, the main character, Genly Ai gets to experienceboth the best Winter has to offer, and the worst. Le Guin carries the reader through this book with a constant sense of curiosity and wonder, ever leading to a magnificent ending; leaving the reader feeling breathless and lost when the book finally does end.If you read and enjoyed Isaac Asimov's Foundation, you'll be sure to love this one too.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, an artfully classic literary work
I read this book years ago, like maybe during the early seventies.
So well written, it is pleasingly elegant & ingenious, the characterizations so real, so subtly sophisticated, they appear tangible.
I was, and still am, amazed at how the author was able to access the various protagonists emotions, thoughts and inclinations with such vivid clarity.
Utterly, thoroughly believable in context.
For the times the book was, I think,pretty daring.Hell, it is still daring.
Anyway, I heartily, without reservation, recommend this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Left Hand of Boredom is Pleasure
I was very excited to start reading this book. I heard about it only recently from a friend of similar tastes.I also found the title dark, mysterious, and potentially profound. Then I found out Le Guin is the daughter of a famous anthropologist I learned about in college!

I was therefore disappointed when I couldn't really get into the book. I was frustrated. There were all these references to places and such without full explanation, I couldn't connect with any of the characters, there were no maps, there were no pictures to aid the reader's challenges in conceptualizing an androgynous human race, and the plot seemed a little here and there without an overarching direction. Just something about the writing style was blaah, and really not what I so hopefully expected.

I didn't set this one aside--not only because I am a determined individual or because I paid good money to read this book--but because it is summer and I have a lot of free time. My efforts were more than compensated for. By the time I finished the novel, my opinion of it had changed completely. A connectable series of events had revealed itself, things and places had started to make sense, and I had come to care very, very deeply about the characters. And it's true: this book is profound; it is an intellectual read. I can say it is most certainly of interest to anyone who has willingly studied anthropology.

So it's not one of my absolute favorites, but I'd quickly recommend The Left Hand of Darkness to fans of good, thoughtful science fiction. I have the feeling that if I read this book again I would enjoy it even more--right from the start.
... Read more

8. Ursula K Le Guin: 5 Complete Novels
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Hardcover: 579 Pages (1985-09-04)
list price: US$8.99 -- used & new: US$29.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0517480107
Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Omnibus of five novels, each originally published separately: Rocannon's World, Planet of Exile, City of Illusions, The Left Hand of Darkness (winner 1969 Nebula Award, 1970 Hugo Award, 1995 James Tiptree, Jr. Award, Retroactive. Nominated, 1970 Ditmar Award. 1975 Locus Poll Award, All-Time Best Novel (Place: 3). 1987 Locus Poll Award, All-Time Best SF Novel (Place: 2). 1998 Locus Poll Award, All-Time Best SF Novel before 1990 (Place: 3).); and The Word for World is Forest (winner, 1973 Hugo Award; nominated, 1972 Nebula Award; 1973 Locus Poll Award, Best Novella (Place: 2)). These are the first five novels in the Hainish Universe series, followed by The Dispossessed and The Telling. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

1-0 out of 5 stars An awful edition
LeGuin is a spellbinding storyteller and a fabulous fabulist. She is a master for the ages. Alas, this miserable edition is full of typesetting errors that disrupt the flow of her prose and render many passages unintelligible. Please buy other widely available editions of her work. ... Read more

9. Worlds of Exile and Illusion: Three Complete Novels of the Hainish Series in One Volume--Rocannon's World; Planet of Exile; City of Illusions
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Paperback: 370 Pages (1996-10-15)
list price: US$16.99 -- used & new: US$10.08
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312862113
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the greatest science fiction writers and many times the winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards. her career as a novelist was launched by the three novels contained in Worlds of Exile and Illusion. These novels, Rocannon's world, Planet of Exile, and City of Illusions, are set in the same universe as Le Guin's groundbreaking classic, The Left hand of Darkness.

Tor is pleased to return these previously unavailable works to print in this attractive new edition.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good SF adventures, but not like her later work
I have a different take on these novels from most of the other reviewers. First, the publisher's subtitle, Three Complete Novels of the Hainish Series, is a bit misleading. These early novels are set in a very different universe from the Hainish Ekumen--the League of All Worlds, formed to resist the inevitable onslaught of The Enemy, and the aftermath of that onslaught. Hain is barely mentioned in these novels (twice, by my count), and the League is completely different in character from the non-interventionist Ekumen which Le Guin develops in detail in her later work. A key theme of these three novels is telepathy (mindspeech, mindhearing), which plays a very minor role in The Left Hand of Darkness and pretty much drops out of her later Hainish writings, as does the Enemy (the Shing), who are never mentioned again.

Second, as an anthropologist, I feel that these novels lack the deep understanding of anthropological fieldwork and the stunning ability to create believable non-Terran societies that characterize her later work, in particular The Left Hand of Darkness, The Telling, and many of her short story collections. These novels are much closer to traditional SF, strong on action and conflict. The "enemies" in Rocannon's World (the Faradayan rebels) andPlanet of Exile (the Gaal) are barely sketched, and even in City of Illusions the Shing are portrayed as simply evil; this is very different from the subtle, complex descriptions of Orgoreyn in The Left Hand of Darkness or the Monitor in The Telling.

These novels are "good reads" for those who like traditional SF, and fascinating as precursors to her later work, but to really appreciate LeGuin's genius, read her later work.

3-0 out of 5 stars gave it the "college" try
Heard that this sci-fi, futuristic author was worth reading. Future society, worlds, and above all different cultures. Was disappointed but that might be just me. Sci-fi even Heinlein or Dick are difficult going for me...and yet films like Blade Runner and Solaris are so good while the books fail for me. So, for those of you who enjoy sci-fi, maybe she's your ticket.

4-0 out of 5 stars Three Novellas, More About Anthropology Than Science Fiction
I purchased this collection of three novellas after having read Leguin's outstanding novel, The Left Hand of Darkness.These works are ostensibly related to LHoD, dealing with formation and history of the Hainish League.

The first novella, Rocannon's World, has virtually nothing to do with science fiction, instead being almost entirely a work of fantasy, and not particularly good fantasy at that.Rocannon is something of an anthropological surveyor on behalf of the Hainish League, attempting to establish technologically advanced civilizations in order to present a line of defense against an anticipated invasion from outside the galaxy.

The story presents a collection of life forms which are strikingly similar to Tolkien's elves, dwarves and even classes of men.Again, not particularly original and not very captivating.Two and a half stars.

The final two novellas, Planet of Exile and City of Illusions, are really neither fantasy nor science fiction.Each is more about the interaction between intelligent hominid species, and though I was expecting science fiction, I enjoyed these two stories significantly more than the first.

In Planet of Exile, we have three vastly different cultures interacting against a highly unusual planetary climate pattern (unusual from our perspective).The World of Werel contains two native hominid species, the Tevarans, of roughly Iron Age technological proficiency, and the Gaal, more Stone Age in sophistication.Add to these, the Farborn, a much more technologically advanced species (from Earth, as it turns out), which has been on Werel for roughly 600 years.Part of an advance party from the Hainish League, they have ostensibly been exiled, supposedly as a result of a successful galactic invasion by the Shing.

The planet of Werel has a moon phase of 400 days, and an elliptical orbit of 60 moon phases.Thus, each "season" lasts roughly 15-20 years.Our story is set at the onset of Winter and the seasonal migration of the Gaal through Tevaran lands.Always warlike, the Gaal have organized this Winter and are a very real threat to the civilizations of the Tevar and the Farborn.Prejudice, jealousy and distrust mark the relationship between the two species as they attempt to cooperate against their much more numerous and savage opponents.Four stars.

The final novella, City of Illusion, finally introduces us to the Shing, the galactic invaders who threaten the Hainish League.In fact, the setting for this story is the Earth, far in the future, following its conquest by the Shing.We are introduced to Falk, a non-human hominid who finds himself stranded in a forested region of the United States (seemingly near Kentucky), without any memory of his past, only a desire to travel West to the Shing city of Es Toch, where he hopes to learn of his identity and past.

Falk undergoes much hardship and experiences many adventures during his travels through the virtually deserted and depopulated United Sates, which eventually lead to Es Toch (located in southern Utah or northern Arizona).The experiences of Falk upon reaching Es Toch neatly tie up all the loose ends, binding the three novellas together.Four and a half stars.

These final two novellas should be required reading for college level Anthropology majors.

5-0 out of 5 stars Just magnificent.
I've been a LeGuin fan for many years, so I've long been skeptical about reading this, a collection of her first three novels.(They form a loosely-connected trilogy and should be read in order for best effect.)I was worried that they might not live up to the standard of her later works, that they might somehow spoil my appreciation of what I've come to regard as one of the greatest bodies of work of any author.

My hesitation was misplaced.These stories bring LeGuin's anthropologist's eye; deft hand for character; and talent to create unknown, fully detailed worlds together as well as any of her other novels.The opener, Rocannon's World, shows what happens when an anthropological expedition to a new planet gets tangled in bureaucracy before going suddenly wrong. Planet in Exile, set 600 years later, follows a tale of two cultures - one alien, one human - forced to meld into one.Finally, World of Illusion closes the circle, showing us the final confrontation between humankind and the mysterious race variously known as the Shing, the Lords of Es Toch, the Enemy, and the Liars of Earth.

Like all LeGuin's work, the thrill-ride is subtle; some of the themes hit you late, sort of like the heat from a chipotle pepper that's been simmering in soup for a couple hours.The reward of reading LeGuin is a pleasure not to be missed and I'd recommend this book for any SF fan.

5-0 out of 5 stars Golden!
It's wonderful to have these three related books in one binding. Le Guin is a very clever, very sensitive, very thoughtful writer and as such her books and their characters reflect these qualities. One of Le Guin's gifts is to create a book that may be hard reading at times-- in part due to that deep thoughtfulness which she possesses-- but that, in the end, crystallizes some stunningly beautiful, sometimes tragic moments in pure poetry that will stay with you forever. Such is the case with these books. ... Read more

10. Cat Dreams
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Hardcover: 32 Pages (2009-09-01)
list price: US$16.99 -- used & new: US$10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 054504216X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Bestselling author Ursula K. Le Guin and acclaimed illustrator S. D. Schindler are together again with a sleepytime picture book for the youngest cat-nappers. Climb into a cat's dreamland with irresistible painting by S. D. Schindler and a lyrical purring text by Ursula K. Le Guin.
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Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars A special and beautiful children's book
Absolutely BEAUTIFUL book. The artwork is simply breathtaking, most other children's books pale in comparison. A special book to share with a child and each page has so much to look at. Love how the page is completely filled up - no white space.

5-0 out of 5 stars I Don't Care How Old You Are...
...if you like cats, this will book put a smile on your face. No mere human knows what goes on in feline dreams, but Le Guin and Schindler have made some pretty good guesses here. Words, illustrations, and design all come together in a final package that's both clever and pleasing to the eye. I don't use words like "cute" and "charming" very often, but they seem made to describe this book. A perfect gift for the cat lover in your life.

5-0 out of 5 stars My Daughter Loves this book!
My 3 year old daughter checks out this book from the library regularly.She loves it so much she has it memorized.

3-0 out of 5 stars sweet

This very restful picture book has a sweetness quotient and the illustrations are very nice but it joins a plethora of other sweet books about cats, and does not present any particular drama to spark an interest in this cat. "It's fun to run. I love to leap. But now I think I'll go to sleep." Then the cat dreams about wonderful experiences. Watercolor, gouache and colored inks present a lively cat that even rests "in a blue jay's nest and all the birdies will sing to me". The inside cover pages are dreamy fuzzy images of a cat in different poses. The cover presents a lovely image of a handsome cat, even providing some texture to its fur. Judy Waite's wonderful book, "Mouse, look out!" (Dutton, 1998) is much more interesting to read, and works well for story time.

4-0 out of 5 stars Cat Dreams
//Cat Dreams// is the topsy-turvy travel of a tortoise shell cat who settles down after a playful day: "It's fun to run. I love to leap. But now I think I'll go to sleep." Le Guin's phonetic pace leads the reader and induces a cadence that children will remember, lending towards memorization and language development. The cadence slows the later portion of the story, which may trip up a reader on the first read through. The story is exciting and entrancing and as parents read and re-read //Cat Dreams//, the pace change will become unnoticeable. Schindler's illustrations catapult the reader into dreams of raining mice, runaway dogs and kibbles and cream. Each page is full color with plenty of detail parents can develop for language enhancement and math skills with cats playing, lapping milk or counts of raining mice or birds in a tree. The text accentuates the art, curving up and around the page, suggesting the cat dancing through its dreamscape. Ursula K. Le Guin has created a fun tale with //Cat Dreams//, well illustrated by S. D. Schindler.

Reviewed by Vicki Hudson ... Read more

11. The Dispossessed: A Novel (Perennial Classics)
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Paperback: 400 Pages (2003-09-01)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$3.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 006051275X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Centuries ago, the moon Anarres was settled by utopian anarchists who left the Earthlike planet Urras in search of a better world, a new beginning. Now a brilliant physicist, Shevek, determines to reunite the two civilizations that have been separated by hatred since long before he was born.

The Dispossessed is a penetrating examination of society and humanity -- and one man's brave undertaking to question the unquestionable and ignite the fires of change.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

3-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Story, Poor Typesetting
My review seeks to add nothing to the positive evaluations that other readers have already offered. This story is simply excellent. I only want to point out for anyone thinking of buying the Harper Perennial Classics edition that the text is riddled with very annoying typos. For example, I was seriously confused when I read a scene about the protagonist, Shevek, when he was a child, and the text said he was EIGHTY-years-old. Since I was unfamiliar with the story, and since just about anything goes in science fiction, I thought that Le Guin had created a society in which eighty-year-old people were still somehow childlike. It took me a few minutes to figure out that this was not a part of the plot, but one of many simple typos (Shevek was eight, not eighty). Perhaps these typos are in all editions, but it's something to consider.

5-0 out of 5 stars Read this book if you want to actually learn something
Read on, I'll get to the book...all this initial background is essential to my review.

Don't listen to what others claim I believe, I'll tell you what I believe.

As an avowed anarchist, I am appalled by mainstream perceptions of Anarchism. Most people confuse Anarchism with Nihlism (nothing matters, so take what you can--rape and plunder). When I insist that political Anarchism is actually quite the opposite--in fact it aims at creating an egalitarian, ultra-democratic, socialist society--most people can't or won't understand. I even had a professor of history at the U. of Barcelona who laughed about Anarchists during the Spanish Civil war as "People who don't believe in anything trying to have a political philosophy" (revealing himself absolutely unqualified to teach).

Of course all these misconceptions are carefully nurtured by the prevailing orthodoxy (similar to intentional mainstream mirepresentations about Socialism) because the true philosophy, if understood correctly in the mainstream, might (I believe WOULD) attract mass support and thus become a real threat to the power elite. Such mass support has happened many times in the past, and governments have learned to carefully control how ideas are presented in the mainstream (Orwellian Newspeak). All governments hate Anarchism above even Communism and Socialism, because we want to do away with all institutional power, unequal wealth, and arbitrary privilege--starting with theirs.

The truth is, Anarchism is simply the belief that all arbitrary power by one individual or group over another inevitably leads to abuse of that power. Political Anarchism attempts to find ways of organizing society that avoid such arbitrary power (in business, governments, families, and all human associations). This normally involves communal decision making, collective property ownership, and grass roots democracy in pure form.

After explaining this to the person questioning me and getting a blank stare in return, if I deem them genuinely interested (as opposed to only feigning interest as justification for thier attempt to debunk Anarchism and teach me how foolish I am) I refer them to "The Dispossessed", by Ursula Le Guin.

"The Dispossessed" is, as far as I know, the most eloquent and nuanced study ever put into print of how a true Anarchist society MIGHT look (not the only form such a society might take though). LeGuin illustrates the thinking, education, advantages, disadvantages, development, and pitfalls inherent in Anarchism, and contrasts it with totalitarian Communism and of course with our "holy Capitalism."

It's also a great sci-fi work, in the tradition of Asimov, Bradbury, or Heinlein. By that I mean sci-fi for thinking people, not action fanatics.

This book will bore cartoonish sci-fi fans, generate confusion and rage in Republicans, Libertarians, and other reactionary proto-Fascists, cause nausea in rightious hipoChristians, baffle adolescent minds of all stripes, and provoke argument from Communists. But for true intellectuals it will never fail to generate personal epiphanies--even if you don't "agree" with anarchism. Also, for the capitalist power elite who want to better understand their enemies, this could be useful. Fortunately, most of the power elite believe their own propaganda (Orwellian Doublethink)--and so would find this book baffling and blasphemous.

Le Guin is a brilliant intellectual, not to mention a fantastic author. Few fiction writers match her nuanced thinking, multi-faceted characters, and social insight. The Dispossessed showcases these qualities in the best way. Obviously I'm biased toward this particular book because of the subject matter, but other of her works also demonstrate her amazing mind and writing talent.

Want to understand the essential underlying issues in all politics and history? A good place to start your education would be to read this book. Want sci-fi that actually explores the implications of a truly alien society? This book is also for you.

This book is about the struggle for freedom. Marx said "...all history is the history of class warfare." He was right, but could also have explained it: "...all history is the history of the struggle for freedom." Same thing.

Do your own thinking people...

2-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful ideas dragged through a slow and boring story
I was so excited to read a book dedicated to the principles of anarchism!Where better than sci-fi to explore an anarchist society with a long history and highly articulated ideas.Who better than a highly accomplished writer such as Le Guin to tackle the endeavor?By Odo, was I disappointed.

Le Guin's "Dispossessed," while generous in its drawing out of anarchist ideas and events, left me bored out of my wits.The plot is thinner than cardboard, the characters are unmoving, and I could find little reason to turn the pages.But turn them I did.I was carried through to the end on the vapors of anarchist imaginings. But I ran out of gas far before I reached the end of the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best
I keep coming back to this book and still consider it one of the best novels I've ever read.It's interesting and inspiring, and only "science fiction" because it's set on another world.

5-0 out of 5 stars Utopia versus dystopia..
The first science fiction I ever read was this.I was impressed enough by it to subsequently read all her others.Two worlds are contrasted--Anarres, on which an anarchist system prevails and resources are shared, and Urras, a violent, hierarchical world.Le Guin is a subtle writer and her story consists of far more than a contrast between utopia and dystopia.Her landscapes are compelling and her spare prose memorable and haunting. ... Read more

12. The New Utopian Politics of Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed
by Laurence Davis
Paperback: 324 Pages (2005-10-19)
list price: US$26.95 -- used & new: US$25.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0739110861
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The Dispossessed has been described by political thinker Andre Gorz as 'The most striking description I know of the seductions--and snares--of self-managed communist or, in other words, anarchist society.' To date, however, the radical social, cultural, and political ramifications of Le Guin's multiple award-winning novel remain woefully under explored. Editors Laurence Davis and Peter Stillman right this state of affairs in the first ever collection of original essays devoted to Le Guin's novel. Among the topics covered in this wide-ranging, international and interdisciplinary collection are the anarchist, ecological, post-consumerist, temporal, revolutionary, and open-ended utopian politics of The Dispossessed. The book concludes with an essay by Le Guin written specially for this volume, in which she reassesses the novel in light of the development of her own thinking over the past 30 years. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars description of book by the editor
Here is a fuller description of the book from the editor:The Dispossessed has been described by political thinker Andre Gorz as "The most striking description I know of the seductions -- and snares -- of self-managed communist or, in other words, anarchist society."To date, however, the radical social, cultural, and political ramifications of Ursula Le Guin's Hugo and Nebula award-winning novel remain woefully under explored.Editors Laurence Davis and Peter Stillman help to right this state of affairs in the first ever collection of original essays devoted to Le Guin's novel.Among the topics covered in this wide-ranging, international and interdisciplinary collection are the anarchist, ecological, post-consumerist, temporal, revolutionary, and open-ended utopian politics of The Dispossessed.The book concludes with an essay by Le Guin written specially for this volume, in which she reassesses the novel in light of the contributors' analyses and the development of her own thinking over the past 30 years.

Introduction, Laurence Davis

Part I. Open-Ended Utopian Politics
1 The Dynamic and Revolutionary Utopia of Ursula K. Le Guin, Laurence Davis
2 Worlds Apart: Ursula K. Le Guin and the Possibility of Method, Simon Stow

Part II. Post-Consumerist Politics
3 The Dispossessed as Ecological Political Theory, Peter G. Stillman
4 Ursula K. Le Guin, Herbert Marcuse, and the Fate of Utopia in the Postmodern, Andrew Reynolds
5 The Alien Comes Home: Getting Past the Twin Planets of Possession and Austerity in Le Guin's The Dispossessed, Douglas Spencer

Part III. Anarchist Politics
6 Individual and Community in Le Guin's The Dispossessed, Dan Sabia
7 The Need for Walls: Privacy, Community, and Freedom in The Dispossessed, Mark Tunick
8 Breaching Invisible Walls: Individual Anarchy in The Dispossessed, Winter Elliott

Part IV. Temporal Politics
9 Time and the Measure of the Political Animal, Ellen M. Rigsby
10 Fulfillment as a Function of Time, or the Ambiguous Process of Utopia, Jennifer Rodgers
11 Science and Politics in The Dispossessed: Le Guin and the "Science Wars," Tony Burns

Part V. Revolutionary Politics
12 The Gap in the Wall: Partnership, Physics, and Politics in The Dispossessed, Everett L. Hamner
13 From Ambiguity to Self-Reflexivity: Revolutionizing Fantasy Space, Bulent Somay
14 Future Conditional or Future Perfect? The Dispossessed and Permanent Revolution, Chris Ferns

Part VI. Open-Ended Utopian Politics
15 Ambiguous Choices: Skepticism as a Grounding for Utopia, Claire P. Curtis
16 Empty Hands: Communication, Pluralism, and Community in Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed, Avery Plaw

A Response, by Ansible, from Tau Ceti, Ursula K. Le Guin

Further Reading
About the Contributors ... Read more

13. Gifts (Annals of the Western Shore)
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Paperback: 300 Pages (2006-04-01)
list price: US$7.95 -- used & new: US$0.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0152051244
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Scattered among poor, desolate farms, the clans of the Uplands possess gifts. Wondrous gifts: the ability--with a glance, a gesture, a word--to summon animals, bring forth fire, move the land. Fearsome gifts: They can twist a limb, chain a mind, inflict a wasting illness. The Uplanders live in constant fear that one family might unleash its gift against another. Two young people, friends since childhood, decide not to use their gifts. One, a girl, refuses to bring animals to their death in the hunt. The other, a boy, wears a blindfold lest his eyes and his anger kill.

In this beautifully crafted story, Ursula K. Le Guin writes of the proud cruelty of power, of how hard it is to grow up, and of how much harder still it is to find, in the world's darkness, gifts of light.

Includes a reader's guide and a sample chapter from the companion title Voices.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (34)

4-0 out of 5 stars Bleak Coming-of-Age Tale
I'm not a big fan of first person narrative, so it took me three tries before I was finally caught by this story. The sparse prose, and the matter-of-fact setting and characters make this world wholly believable - but dark and grim. The questions raised about morality, truth, and social obligations will leave you pondering long after the last page is turned.

If you like this type of story I strongly recommend Hawkmistress! (Darkover: The Hundred Kingdoms) by Marion Zimmer Bradley. (Teenage Romilly has to break away from her hardscrabble mountain life and her strict family in order to grow and master her special gift.)

3-0 out of 5 stars boring
I got to page 82 and decided not to finish it. This book is written in a way that, to me, was incredibly uninteresting, dull, and simple. It is written in a way that reminds me of the bible sometimes. If you think reading the bible (as entertainment I mean, not for religious purposes because I doubt that's what you want to get out of Gifts) is an exciting time then you might enjoy this book. It is written largely in past tense and the story and characters seem archaic (which partly contributes to the biblical feeling). Maybe fun for kids but for someone who has read books with much more substance (such as Ender's Game, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Watership Down, The Dark Tower series, The Prydain Chronicles, etc.) it did not satisfy

2-0 out of 5 stars Not the best opening
I hate to be the negative type who only writes reviews about things that bother me somehow, but just as I've found pure, unadulterated rants to be at all beneficial, I've rarely found a glowing review to be helpful.

I tried to like this book, really. Le Guin is highly recommended by all of my friends, so I thought I'd try Gifts as an introduction to her work. That seems to have been my mistake, as it made me not the least bit interested in reading anything else she has written. Most of it may be differing taste, some may be missing the metaphor, but all of it has to do with the setting.

Orrec lives in a world where whole families can be walking WMDs. This could have been used to write a fantastic war story, but the wars were entirely passive-aggressive feuds between families. One family was jealous of another and caused one of the women to waste away in a very short time frame, in a very obvious attack as per that family's gift. Yet they literally get away with murder because... the victim's family is outnumbered? Because, oh, we don't want to upset the truce when we're already fighting over diminishing resources? The very mundane nature of the story made me recognize how unnatural magic of this degree really was: What kind of balance could there possibly be in a world where a single being could kill thousands on his/her/its own without even breaking a sweat, even if there was an opposite gift of creating thousands of lives in an instant? Writing a story about balancing power in an unbalanceable world is an exercise in futility, unless maybe your goal is nullifying all such power (which it wasn't).

I did like the stories handed down from elders, the sense of finding oneself in that coming-of-age scenario, and Orrec's relationship with Gry, but they seemed wholly out of place in the specific world they were in. It was just too difficult for me to believe in their kind of magic running unchecked, that Orrec's family--arguably in possession of the strongest, most destructive gift--would not have just taken over the world and nuts to anyone who stood in their way. The very premise ruined the potential for this to be a wonderful read. I thoroughly recommend perhaps starting on the Earthsea series first, as that seems to make this book more palatable to others. Starting with Gifts? Bad idea.

2-0 out of 5 stars CHAOTIC!!!!!!
Gifts was very chaotic.
Maybe it was me, but i have read ALOT of books and they all pull me into there story so it is like i am living it. Gifts for some reason failed to do so. The idea was fantastic: the gifts of the people and how they live, what it is like to have a superhuman power, how Orrec must blindfold himself to save others in the desperate attempt to control his gift. A incredible idea but for some reason the story just didn't make sense to me. It was chaotic with no real story line at all, a blur. the ending was bad here was no real climax. WHERE IS THE SUSPENSE THE ACTION????????? i just couldn't understand it. i read the first eight chapters 4 times over to try and understand it but it just didn't come. now i am not some one who doesn't know what a good book is and how a plot setting and theme are supposed to be.i just couldn't understand it. it was dull ad boring.
i have read the other reviews and they are all pretty good. If you have enjoyed this book then good for you. i wish i did for the cover and the main idea was very intriguing and very creative.

5-0 out of 5 stars about time
as a few other reviewers have mentioned, Le Guin has the gift to craft the most elegant and memorable of descriptions trimmed off excesses. over the years i have learned to savour every find of her books - one in a school library, one in a garage sale, one in a friend's collection... i neither seek nor avoid them, but take them as they come, as the knowledge that there are still some of her books i haven't read makes me happy.

this book, found after a long hiatus from Le Guin's work, made me realise all over again what quality writing should look like - reading her book switches on the part of my brain that creates mental pictures, and i could effortlessly picture the characters, the setting and the intricacies of the society they live in.

just a few sentences to illustrate this:

"... Since my mother's death his mind was all given to grief and rage and rancor. He huddled over his pain, his longing for vengeance. Gry, who knew all the nests and eyries for miles around, once saw a carrion eagle brooding his pair of silvery, grotesque eaglets in a nest up on the Sheer, after a shepherd killed the mother bird who hunted for them both. So my father brooded and starved."

and this only on page three!

one of the criticisms of Le Guin's work on young adult literature is that she has a tendency to talk down to the (younger) reader. in her books "Very Far Away from Anywhere Else" and "Threshold" this was regrettably apparent, however, i'm happy to declare that "Gifts" is quite free from such maladies. ... Read more

14. Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Paperback: 180 Pages (1998-04-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$8.22
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0933377460
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Ursula K. Le Guin generously shares the accumulated wisdom of a lifetime's work.
Amazon.com Review
Ursula K. Le Guin's extraordinary writing primer is full ofcharm, wit, and opinion. Le Guin likens writing to "steering acraft," and as one reads through this volume, one has the senseof floating down a river, with the waves of Le Guin's words lapping atone's craft. Le Guin veers sharply from the mainstream of contemporarywriting manuals by challenging their very definition of story. Whileit is common to "conflate story with conflict," Le Guinwrites, she finds that limiting. "Story is change," shesays. While that change may be the result of conflict, it is just aslikely to evolve from "relating, finding, losing, bearing,discovering, [or] parting." Le Guin demonstrates this complexitywith well-hewn excerpts from the works of such writers as Jane Austen, Mark Twain, J.R.R.Tolkien, CharlotteBrontë, and especially VirginiaWoolf. The many aspects of fine fiction writing Le Guin addresseshere include the role of the narrative sentence (its "chiefduty [is] to lead to the next sentence--to keep the storygoing"); avoiding exposition doldrums ("break up theinformation, grind it fine, and make it into bricks to build the storywith"); and the concept of "crowding and leaping."While prose should be "crowded with sensations, meanings, andimplications," don't forget that "what you leave out isinfinitely more than what you leave in."

Accompanying LeGuin's text is a handful of clever writing exercises, each as enticingas its name. Among them are "I am García Márquez," whichrequires writing with no punctuation; "Chastity," whichchallenges one to write without adjectives or adverbs; and "ATerrible Thing to Do," which proposes taking an earlier exerciseand cutting it--by half. --Jane Steinberg ... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best
It is a concise, but rich experience in learning and practicing the craft of writing, and of all of my writing books, a favorite.Some of the specific things I love about it are

a) her genuine enthusiam for writing and for literature sparkles off the page.She takes writing very solemnly as an art but also as something fun and delightful and playful, and her love for it is infectous and inspiring.

b)the many examples, from a wide variety of sources.There is some Tolkien, some Virgina Woolf, some Gertrude Stein, some Kipling, some Twain.A great variety to show writers how things have been well done by previous writers.

c) she has a very open, creative mind, and hands you all the tools to write in many different ways, rather than according to a narrow perscription of "rules" that excludes some tools (for example, certain POVs) in favor of others.

d) her general philosophy of writing, story, and of the use of language rings true.

e) her openness and her wide variety of examples and excersizes are helpful for learning to find your own voice as a writer and stretch it.She shares what she knows to help you develop yourself, but she does not teach you to write just like Ursula K. LeGuin.She is not condescending, not a do-it my way captain, rather she feels like a fellow crewmember on the craft, although one who has been on many many more voyages.

This is not a book if you want 10 Rules for Instant Bestselling Fiction.But it is an excellent book if you want to put in the work to develop your craft and find your own voice as a writer.I find that I return to this book again and again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great tool
I have always been a fan of Ursula Le Guin for her wonderful, descriptive writing.She always seems to draw me into another world.I ordered this based on that admiration and was very pleased to find a great tool for helping new writers better their craft.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great for Writing Teachers
Anyone who wants to improve their writing needs this.Anyone who wants some great writing exercises for teaching a class needs this book

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent manual on the basic elements of the fiction writing
In Steering the Craft, Le Guin's aim is "to clarify and to intensify" elements of prose writing through brief lectures on writing topics, interesting follow-up examples from literature, and writing exercises.She stresses that the examples and the writing should be read aloud, whether alone or in a group.Some of writers used as examples are Charlotte Bronte, Mark Twain, Jane Austen, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Virginia Woolf.At the end of each exercise, there are discussions on how to critique the exercise and things to think/talk about after writing.

Le Guin also gives further readings, what you can do with the writing later, and optional exercises.She also has valuable opinion pieces on such elements as characters, paragraphs, and narrative tense.The opinion pieces take on "rules" or worries a writer may have come across from reading other writing books or in workshops, things that stifle creativity.Her voice is encouraging and warm, yet she still manages to make it clear how important being comfortable with these elements of craft are for strong, nuanced writing.

The primary weakness is that most of the writers Le Guin selected for her examples are from the 19th century.She only uses only a few examples from late 20th century writers.Considering how craft elements such as POV and narrative voice are used these days, it would have been helpful to have contemporary writers for her examples as well.That juxtaposition between writing styles could have sparked a few challenging writing exercises.

This book is ideal for teachers of grad students in fiction writing, instructors in fiction writing workshops, or experienced writers who want to clean up bad habits.Although this book can be used for a creative nonfiction writing course, Le Guin came up with the ideas in Steering the Craft through her experiences in teaching fiction writing workshops and her examples are all from fiction sources.

5-0 out of 5 stars It will make you a better writer
This book was recommended in another book (I can't remember which now) for it's chapters on POV and voice.I have never read one of LeGuin's novels, but I decided to borrow it from my library.Boy, am I glad I did!I liked it so much that I renewed it the maximum number of times, made my mother check it out next, and still plan to buy it when my next paycheck comes through.

Its chapters are clear, concise and detailed, going through the basic stuff (eg 1st person POV vs 3rd) and beyond (eg fly-on-the-wall vs involved author).Best of all, LeGuin uses examples from well-known authors like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and J.R.R. Tolkien to illustrate these.

The exercises are so useful and have so many different variants, that I think I will be doing them for a long time.I would strongly advise this book to anyone who wants to improve their story writing skills. ... Read more

15. Political Theory, Science Fiction, and Utopian Literature: Ursula K. Le Guin and The Dispossessed
by Tony Burns
Paperback: 330 Pages (2010-03-16)
list price: US$36.95 -- used & new: US$30.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0739122835
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This work challenges both the widely accepted view thatThe Dispossessed represents a new kind of literary utopia and the place of Ursula K. Le Guin's novel in the histories of utopian/dystopian literature and science fiction. ... Read more

16. A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1)
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Paperback: 192 Pages (2004-09-28)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$4.91
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553383043
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Ged was the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea,  but once he was called Sparrowhawk, a reckless  youth, hungry for power and knowledge, who tampered  with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow  upon the world. This is the tale of his testing,  how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an  ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to  restore the balance.

From the Paperback edition.Amazon.com Review
Often compared to Tolkien's Middle-earth or Lewis's Narnia,Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea is a stunning fantasy world that grabsquickly at our hearts, pulling us deeply into its imaginaryrealms. Four books (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs ofAtuan, TheFarthest Shore, and Tehanu) tell thewhole Earthsea cycle--a tale about a reckless, awkward boy namedSparrowhawk who becomes a wizard's apprentice after the wizard revealsSparrowhawk's true name. The boy comes to realize that his fate may befar more important than he ever dreamed possible. Le Guin challengesher readers to think about the power of language, how in the act ofnaming the world around us we actually create that world. Teens,especially, will be inspired by the way Le Guin allows her charactersto evolve and grow into their own powers.

In this first book, A Wizard of Earthsea readers will witnessSparrowhawk's moving rite of passage--when he discovers his true nameand becomes a young man. Great challenges await Sparrowhawk, includingan almost deadly battle with a sinister creature, a monster that maybe his own shadow. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (426)

1-0 out of 5 stars Two different authors?
The first three books are pretty good. Ranking amongst the best fantasy novels I have read.
When I discovered Leguin continued the saga, I couldn't wait to get hold of the other three.
What a disappointment it was. It looks like a completely different author. The first was a writer, a storyteller and a good one at that. The second one was a disgruntled feminist with the delusion she has writing abilities.
The second three books differ from the first three as a cheap cowboy novel differs from Tolkien.

By all means, do read the first three books. They are well worth it. But forget the last three. A phone directory makes more compelling and less biased reading.

3-0 out of 5 stars Wizard of Earthsea
A Wizard of Earthsea at first glance does not seem an original book. The plot - wizardry and defeating evil, seems like a very common theme in fantasy novels, so it doesn't seem extremely original or out of the ordinary. However, this book was published in 1968, when this theme was not so well explored, seeing as Harry Potter, Eragon and many other fantasies of similar theme had not been published, or would not be published, for many years. That makes the book different, and makes this review slightly less critical, seeing as there had not been as many books like it in the past.

However, the book itself was nothing extremely special or amazing. Although it, at the time was "new" it lacked anything to make it less than a forgettable, everyday, dull book to read. The writing itself was dry and not lacking anything to drive the reader on.

The general theme of this book is a young wizard born humble and poor, learning that he holds much power. The young wizard goes to a prestigious academy for young wizards, and being so ambitious and proud, accidentally unleashes a dark power that he must stop before it takes over. We are introduced to a huge world of Earthsea, which has many -full- maps of itself, which have about 500 tiny islands scattered about them - and the titles are almost invisible.

The story itself does not seem original or different in any sense. It is predictable to the point it is not fun to read, and none of the characters are explored in depth. There are many side characters who barely have a few lines and not much influence in the story, only serving to carry on one plot point and not standing out as original people. It is as if the characters don't have thoughts, as we never really hear them thinking or having many emotions. They don't seem like real people at all, making the story even less convincing and unpleasant to read. I didn't feel anything for any of the characters, as they all seemed generic and without a personality or many flaws. They were grim, without any interests or hobbies, just dull people carrying out heroic quests. Especially the character of Ged followed through with this.

The writing style was another thing that made the book hard to enjoy. Although some people love extremely descriptive, long, fancy sentences, I can't say I do. I like descriptions, but the authors descriptions don't add anything to the story. It seems as if she does not think dialogue adds anything to a story, because there was almost zero conversation among characters. It seems the whole story could be summarized into about a page without all the needless detail.

LeGuin created a huge world, yet she used very little. She spent pages and pages talking about all the different islands and geography of them. Yet they played a small role in the real story, and it seemed like she should have used all those pages making the characters, and the storyline, come to life.

4-0 out of 5 stars Amazing storytelling, you will want it to go on forever
You will get so deep in this book that you will want to stay there forever.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the All Time Greats
This book is one of my favorite fantasy books.Of course it all comes down to personal taste, but to give you an idea I'd rank this similar to:

Weis and Hickman - Dragon Lance / Death Gate

Lloyd Alexander - Chronicles of Prydain

The series as a whole is quite different from most other fantasy series though.After the first book, they are more thoughtfully written.Possibly intended for a slightly older audience, but still quite good.The first book though is up there with the hobbit and the lord of the rings.

3-0 out of 5 stars I may not have loved Earthsea, but I certainly could see the beauty in it
In Earthsea, there are wizards and magic.One of the powerful keys to this world is a person or thing's "true name."Therefore, although he was called "Duny" in childhood and "Sparrowhawk" throughout his life, his true name is Ged.The story follows Ged from his impatient childhood to his greater quests as an adult.Through these quests Ged must always worry and flee from the malevolent entity he calls his "shadow."

I'd like to preface everything I say with this: Ursula K. Le Guin is an amazing writer.There is no doubt about that in the least. Le Guin's story is cohesive, lean, and has a myth-like quality that I admired, even when I couldn't fully embrace the story.Plus, one has to remember that there was no Harry Potter or the other young-wizard-goes-to-school books before Le Guin's Earthsea.It's Le Guin that made these tales possible, because her stories are inspiring.If any scene seems worn out, it's most likely because Le Guin wrote it and others imitated.

But I think I'm getting ahead of myself.

First I should say this: the first half (or maybe even more) of Earthsea was incredibly difficult for me to slog through despite the lean, controlled prose and how quickly I could read the book.It's true that Earthsea is short, quick, and lean, but everything I read kept the name "Tolkien" flashing across my mind in bright, irritated letters.Now, I wasn't put off because I thought that Le Guin was mimicking Tolkien, because-quite honestly-there's more fantasy fiction that models off Tolkien than not, but because I'm one of those few people who just doesn't care for Tolkien.At all.Since I'm in the minority with my preference, this won't be an issue for very many readers.From the maps, the storyline movement, the sligh remove from the characters, the world-building-it's all very Tolkienesque.Of course, there are worse things to say than "I didn't enjoy this because it reminded me of Tolkien."Because, really, that could be read as: "I didn't enjoy this because it was too like one of the masters and founders of the very fiction genre."

In the end, there are worse things to say than "I didn't enjoy this because it reminded me of Tolkien."Because, really, that could be read as: "I didn't enjoy this because it was too like one of the masters and founders of the very fiction genre."

Although, to be more specific, I think it's the distance from character and plot that bothers me most.Le Guin gives the readers some excellent scenes and characters (my favorite scene involved the dragon and my favorite character is, hands down, Vetch), but our glimpse into Le Guin's world can be fleeting.The book is short and packs in something like 15 years of Ged's life into those pages.Years just speed past.On one hand, this is sort of nice in that the reader gets to hit the "highlights" of Ged's life without the downtime.However, on the other hand, I came away from Earthsea knowing that I only had a handful of real, concrete insights into the character and that I would have to infer the rest from quickly-passed situations.(One of the absolute best moments in the book is one of these insights, at the very end, so I think Le Guin is not only aware of this structure, but tries to use it to full effect.)

Well, let's see, I've complained a lot and moped about my dislike of Tolkien and all that is the beginning of traditional fantasy, but what did I like?I very much liked that the protagonists were dark skinned, but loved that it was slipped in so subtly with well-placed details that I might have missed it had not I been preoccupied with the golden hair of one of the village-attackers early in the story.I enjoyed the themes of call-by names and true names, the power of language, and equilibrium/balance.I adored Vetch and wish he had a whole lot more page-time-and more than just how I wish everyone had more page time.Additionally, Le Guin always moves her story forward-actually, every single word as well as the narrative-with a driving logic.

My final impression regarding Earthsea is that it's a very interesting read in that it's like reading the creation of a myth, but the distance and too-short length detracted from my enjoyment.What I mean about the creation-myth reference is that the story has the little dialogue, straight-forward prose, and the feel of oral story-telling.However, I am very glad to have read this book, as it is very important to the movement of fantasy literature and because Le Guin's command over language and story is always an impressive thing to see. I may not have loved Earthsea, but I certainly could see the beauty in it. ... Read more

17. The Birthday of the World: And Other Stories
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Paperback: 384 Pages (2003-03-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$7.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B001PO65KY
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The recipient of numerous literary prizes, including the National Book Award, the Kafka Award, five Hugo Awards and five Nebula Awards, the renowned writer Ursula K. Le Guin has, in each story and novel, created a provocative, ever-evolving universe filled with diverse worlds and rich characters reminiscent of our earthly selves. Now, in The Birthday of the World, this gifted artist returns to these worlds in eight brilliant short works, including a never-before-published novella, each of which probes the essence of humanity.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, imperfect, introspective
This book exhibits every quality you would expect from Le Guin, but that is not to say the stories are rote or predictable in any way. She is an author on an even keel with a spectacular imagination.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lives up to the title
It's amazing how quickly Le Guin is able to establish the environments of all these different worlds and cultures in so few words. They are natural, fluid, and authentic. Each story is a unique gem, and yet there's a cohesiveness to the whole. I think each really lends something special one to the next that if they were presented separately there would be a quality definitely lacking. Many of these stories explore a kind of thought experiment that made me think about just how much culture influences real human sexuality. My favorite though was the creation of a religion based on the assumptions of atheism.

It's absolutely brilliant, and I think everyone should read it. =)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of her best!
This book is amazing! Every single story is a joy to read! I'm largely a fan of her "Hainish" work, and the stories set in that universe are a real treat. Le Guin applies her usual intelligence to all of these stories, but she also succeeds in giving voice to some of these characters. She develops theme without sacrificing character. This is evident in "Mountain Ways" and "Solitude", where she gives us glimpses of these societies and their customs, yet she also gives us access to the characters and what motivates them. At Le Guin's current age, some writers have reached their peak and slowed down (or even have stopped altogether). However, Le Guin's still going very strong, even stronger, as this collection of novellas shows considerable growth in her writing since those important novels from decades ago. Also, she's been quite prolific over the past few years, also a very good sign.

Sci-fi book covers can be problematic at times. Some of them are downright cheesy. However, the design of this cover is brilliant! A human face with the eyes obscured doesn't allude to any particular character in any story. Plus, it is difficult to tell if the face is male or female, black or white. The face is simply human, and it emphasizes the humanity of the characters, which is very present in all the stories.

Overall, a must read! You won't be sorry!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must for Le Guin Fans
I tend to prefer novels to short story collections.I find short stories to largely be less satisfying and engrossing than novels.However, as a great fan of Ursula K. Le Guin, I could not help but pick up this collection.I recommend this book for fans of Le Guin's novels set in the Hainish universe.6 of the 8 stories are set in different planets of the universe, some of which have been visted in previous works.If you haven't read Le Guin before, I recommend you pick up some of her earlier works, particularly The Left Hand of Darkness, before reading this one, to familarize yourself with the concepts, because she doesn't fully explain them here.

I like to term Le Guin's work as "creative anthropology."Ever since I read some of her nonfiction works about her life, particulary growing up with an anthropologist father, her fiction has made more and more sense to me.Instead of writing about actual societies, she invents societies and gets us inside of them, exposes to us essentialities of human nature via the alienness of different cultures.The stories are not plot-focused; instead you spend a great deal of time just getting to know these different places and people.

"Coming of Age in Karhide"
This story is a perfect complement to fans of The Left Hand of Darkness, as it takes place on the same planet of Gethen, where no one is either male or female; instead they take on male or female characteristics during "kemmer," 3 days of the month during which they mate.The rest of the time they are genderless and do not have sex.The story concerns the first kemmer of a young child on Gethen.The story is mainly a lighthearted look into Gethenian society, a somewhat different perspective than The Left Hand of Darkness.

"The Matter of Seggri"
This takes place on a world in which females vastly outnumber males.The sexes are strictly segregated and "men have all the privilege while women have all the power."It comes together in snippets from different Ekumen visits to Seggri and some inhabitents of the planet themselves, exposing the situation from several different angles.To me this story exemplifies the cruelty of trying to fit people into gender-based boxes, preventing them from growing into who they really are.

"Unchosen Love" and "Mountain Ways"
Both of these stories take place on the planet of O, in which marriages consist of four people (2 women, 2 men).Le Guin masterfully untangles the world of people for whom marriage is intertwining love triangles, exposing the core of emotion within.

Le Guin terms this story a tribute to introverts.The people on this planet gain their energy from being alone rather than being together.For the Hainish mother of two children who comes to study this strange society, it is stifling, but her younger daughter manages to find the meaning in the solitude.

"Old Music and the Slave Women"
For me the most difficult to get into of the collection, this story takes place on Werel, which Le Guin previously wrote about in her collection Four Ways to Forgiveness.I think had I read that, I would have enjoyed this story more.It takes place on a world broken by civil war, a civil war focused on (you guessed it) slavery.

"The Birthday of the World"
Le Guin flips her usual trend of looking at other societies from the aliens' point of view, and instead looks at the aliens from the native's point of view in this story.

"Paradises Lost"
Although not at all similar to the other stories in a number of ways, this novella-length story is the gem of this collection.A group of colonists from earth is seeking a new planet to live on hundreds of light years away. But instead of putting themselves in deep freeze during the flight like in so many movies, Le Guin questions what if actually lived out their lives on the ship--bore children, died, then their children bore children and died, and by the time the ship reaches its destination, none of the people on board remember anything about life outside of the ship.A fascinating premise, this story is written in a totally different style than the rest of the collection and could probably stand on its own.

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent exploration of gender and love
Le Guin is a fantastic writer who deftly weaves a beautiful story of characters, plot, and setting with wholesome, open-minded moral messages. You feel like she's exploring the moral issues alongside you. Her explorations of gender, sexuality and diverse sexual relationships strike a chord with me as a gay man. Le Guin approaches diverse arrangements with an open mind, repeatedly bringing us to the point that love in any form is a wonderful thing.

Her story about a generation ship, Paradises Lost, turns the sc-fi cliche on its head. Living in such different conditions than we do today would certainly change a people in much the fashion that Le Guin imagines.

A highly evocative read, I don't just suggest you read this, I feel it should be required reading for everyone. It would certainly open many minds. ... Read more

18. The Lathe Of Heaven: A Novel
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Paperback: 192 Pages (2008-04-15)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$4.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1416556966
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In a future world racked by violence and environmental catastrophes, George Orr wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist who immediately grasps the power George wields. Soon George must preserve reality itself as Dr. Haber becomes adept at manipulating George's dreams for his own purposes.

The Lathe of Heaven is an eerily prescient novel from award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin that masterfully addresses the dangers of power and humanity's self-destructiveness, questioning the nature of reality itself. It is a classic of the science fiction genre.Amazon.com Review
Ursula K. Le Guin is one of science fiction's greatest writers. She is also an acclaimed author of powerful and perceptive nonfiction, fantasy, and literary fiction. She has received many honors, including six Nebula and five Hugo Awards, the National Book Award, the Pushcart Prize, the Newbery, the Pilgrim, the Tiptree, and citations by the American Library Association. She has written over a dozen highly regarded novels and story collections. Her SF masterworks are The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), The Dispossessed (1974), and The Lathe of Heaven (1971).

George Orr has dreams that come true--dreams that change reality. He dreams that the aunt who is sexually harassing him is killed in a car crash, and wakes to find that she died in a wreck six weeks ago, in another part of the country. But a far darker dream drives George into the care of a psychotherapist--a dream researcher who doesn't share George's ambivalence about altering reality.

The Lathe of Heaven is set in the sort of worlds that one would associate with Philip K. Dick, but Ms. Le Guin's treatment of the material, her plot and characterization and concerns, are more akin to the humanistic, ethically engaged, psychologically nuanced fiction of Theodore Sturgeon. The Lathe of Heaven is an insightful and chilling examination of total power, of war and injustice and other age-old problems, of changing the world, of playing God. --Cynthia Ward ... Read more

Customer Reviews (79)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, and there is a wonderful movie version
This book is terrific.And if you like it, you should get the DVD of the well-done movie version as well.

5-0 out of 5 stars Do Dreams Come True?
For George Orr, they do. Orr has the supernatural ability to dream "effectively" and rewrite reality--not just the present but all of history as well. As he struggles to cope with the consequences of having such an awesome and unpredictable ability, he seeks the aid of drugs, an eccentric psychiatrist, and a lawyer friend. Orr's sole desire is to be cured, but the psychiatrist has other plans as the world is mixed and mashed by Orr's dreams under the scientist's influence.

"The Lathe of Heaven" is a surefire mind-boggler, but Ursula K. Le Guin writes with an unparalleled beauty so that each page is a wonder in itself. For the complexity of the themes present in this book, Le Guin's writing exhibits a surprisingly even combination of confidence and freedom, neither doctrinal nor vague.

"The Lathe of Heaven" is a great choice for those looking for a thought meal, a bit of literary excellence, or both.

4-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
What an interesting read. A friend of mine who is also an avid book reader suggested this to me considering I am an epic sci-fi geek. She considers this book to be in her top five reads of all time. I wouldn't necessarily rank it quite that high - but I certainly thought it was a good read. This is also my first Ursula LeGuin book. I look forward to exploring her other works. She writes absolutely beautifully.

It is very short - certainly a book you'll get through in a day or two. I plowed through it quite quickly. The language is what pulls you in in this one. The entire book is incredibly vivid and does not fail to engage your interest. Being a neurobiologist, I personally enjoyed that it was cognitive science fiction - but I can understand how a reader who doesn't typically enjoy science fiction or cognitive psychology could be turned off by all the technicalities.

The environmental and political themes also struck close to my heart. I feel as if LeGuin was way ahead of her time. This book was written in 1971 and took place in the year 2002 as far as I understand it - certainly interesting that her concerns about the future are still very present amongst individuals of my generation. These themes and concerns presented in this book will certainly be valid through many periods of time.

I personally feel that this is a classic novella that should be read by those who genuinely enjoy sci-fi and/or books that are a bit more out of the box. It is a book that I'm sure I'll read and be entertained by several times throughout my life. If you're looking for something of substance that isn't long and will be able to keep your attention - this book is just about perfect - especially if you're looking for classic science fiction in particular.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Very Thought Provoking Novella
Despite reading well over a thousand books over the years, many of them science fiction, I somehow neglected Ursula LeGuin.I attribute this to being an early Lord of the Rings fan and viewing her Wizard of Earthsea series as a cheap imitation.As a result, I pigeonholed her as a second rate fantasy author and failed to discover her numerous, outstanding science fiction works.

After reading her Left Hand of Darkness and Worlds of Exile and Illusion, both of which I enjoyed very much, I began to actively seek out her work, hence my exposure to this very short novel (actually more of a novella).Those seeking hard science fiction may be disappointed, as her focus is more sociological and anthropological than with technology, space or time travel.

This short work, set in a depressing dystopian American near future, features George Orr, a dreamer, but not your average, run of the mill dreamer.George's dreams have the ability to change reality.When George thinks he is insane and struggles to avoid sleep, he is directed to Dr. William Haber, a specialist in dreams and sleep disorders who soon discovers a way to profit from George's abilities, by directing his dreams.But dreams are tricky and Dr. Haber's suggestions and direction do not always lead where he thinks.For example, a suggestion to dream of world peace results in intergalactic war.

I've seen reviews which attribute political and abstract interpretations to this work, and such may have been the author's intent.For me, however, the short work was a highly entertaining and thoughtful essay which highlights the futility and hidden dangers inherent in trying to exert control over matters incapable of being controlled.

5-0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary book, written in 1971!
Ursula K. Le Guin hit a home run with The Lathe Of Heaven, a novel first published in 1971 and discovered by me in 2010!

George Orr, an educated but anonymous member of the working class in Portland, finds that his dreams have the power to alter reality.When he begins using drugs to keep himself from dreaming, he is caught and forced to seek "voluntary" psychiatric care.His therapist, William Haber, discovers George's power, and attempts to use it to "improve" society: stop wars, prevent discrimination based on the color of one's skin, eliminate hunger, and prevent the indoctrination of children with parental biases, among others.

George is powerless to resist.To offend Haber means that he will be committed to an asylum.However, he can't control his dreams.Haber can make a suggestion when George is asleep ("No more mass killing of humans by other humans.No fighting in Iran and Arabia and Israel. No more genocides in Africa.No stockpiles of nuclear and biological weapons, ready to useagainst other nations.No more research on ways and means of killing other people.A world at peace with itself" (p. 85).

George's subconscious, in his dream state, complies, and it is so.However, he dreams of aliens on the Moon, and reality becomes nations not fighting among themselves, but united in a defense against the aliens.

Dreams are not very predictable.Cause and effect is sometimes messy.There are unintended consequences of our actions.

Cool story, even though it occurs in the "future" of 2002!I understand there is a film adaptation of this story.I will look for it.

Well-written, and you can't predict how things will turn out.I suspect this book really helped cement Ursula K. Le Guin as a sci-fi writer. ... Read more

19. The Farthest Shore: Book Three (Earthsea Cycle)
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Paperback: 272 Pages (2004-11-23)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$9.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B002IKLNTW
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Three of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Cycle

Darkness threatens to overtake Earthsea: the world and its wizards are losing their magic. Despite being wearied with age, Ged Sparrowhawk -- Archmage, wizard, and dragonlord -- embarks on a daring, treacherous journey, accompanied by Enlad's young Prince Arren, to discover the reasons behind this devastating pattern of loss. Together they will sail to the farthest reaches of their world -- even beyond the realm of death -- as they seek to restore magic to a land desperately thirsty for it.

With millions of copies sold worldwide, Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Cycle has earned a treasured place on the shelves of fantasy lovers everywhere, alongside the works of such beloved authors as J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (69)

4-0 out of 5 stars Why is this labeled a "young adult" book?Who cares... Book 3 of Earthsea!
The Farthest Shore is author Ursula K. Le Guin's third book in her Earthsea saga.I've got two copies of this story now, both as this stand-alone novel and as The Earthsea Trilogy, which contains this story plus the two previous ones.

Sparrowhawk, a Dragonlord (can speak to dragons) and Archmage ( a wizard's wizard), notices a decline either the use or the potency of magic in the outer islands of Earthsea.With a young "apprentice-to-be" (Arren, a prince), he goes in search of the cause of this phenomenon.

Sparrowhawk gets more than he is looking for, and must travel to the border of... life and death, the place.

This book continues the tale of Ged (Sparrowhawk), so if you've read the first two, how can you skip this one?I do feel that this was the weakest of the three, but I enjoyed it all the same.However, consider getting The Earthsea Trilogy volume.

This book is labeled as "young adult" fare.Is this because of the topic... dragons and mages and magic?Don't let the label put you off if you are a bit older.We all need a bit of magic in our lives!

3-0 out of 5 stars Great Third Book
The third book in the Earthsea Cycle follows the wizard Ged and young Prince Arren as they search for the reason behind the forgetting of magic. Magic users across the many islands of Earthsea are forgetting the words of magic and going mad, and it seems to be spreading.

This is a great story of conquering your fears and overcoming what appears to be more than you can handle. It show the value of friendship and commitment. This was a wonderful follow up to the first two books. I have the fourth on my soon to be bought list.

My only complaint is again of the large gap with little to no information of what happens between the stories. I'm the type of reader that enjoys knowing even the more boring parts of the characters lives.


3-0 out of 5 stars Not very epic.
I'd heard a lot about how great Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea original trilogy is supposed to be, and I'd picked up this book hoping to read something great. Needless to say, it turned out to be something of a letdown.

I guess this would seem like a better book if I was younger, since the plot is fairly straightforward, and certain things were obvious from the start, like Arren/Lebannen eventually being crowned King. The characters also didn't seem to be all that developed or complex; lessons may have been learned, but no one changes all that much.

There was also something kind of irritating about how helpless everyone became once the magic started drying up. Alright, so there was the whole thing about being wooed to the Dark Side, but wouldn't people be able to adapt to not using charms? Guess it's part of the whole Fantasy World shtick.

Maybe this was a great fantasy back when it was written years and years ago, but today it feels rather generic. Or I'm too picky about my books. Or maybe I should stick to sci-fi, since I seem to have terrible luck with fantasy. I may give the first two books a shot, since the third is, according to the Amazon reviews, not the best of the series.

While not really related, the paperback edition I read had at least three or four typos, including one on the table of contents. Folks who want to own a copy of this book may want to find a different edition if editing mistakes bother you.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another good Le Guin
As always, Le Guin delivers what you'd expect, a fantasy book of true literary quality. Unlike many of the emerging fantasy texts throughout the past 20 years or so, especially since the Harry Potter craze, The Earthsea books force the reader to wrestle with many of the same issues that we have to face as real people. Her first book in the series, A Wizard of Earthsea shows the inherent evil within us all, and the ability we have to overcome it only by facing it. The second book, The Tombs of Atuan, delineates the struggles surrounding pride and power. This book delves into the desire to pursue eternal life, thus interrupting the balance between life and nature, humans and the natural laws we're subject to just as much as anything else. The most interesting element that Le Guin unearths in her take on the concept of eternal life is that her characters, in their pursuit, lose their true identity, their name, and wash into oblivion and nothingness.

I was talking with a new co-worker about the kinds of books and movies that we're into, and she actually laughed at the fact that I love fantasy, saying that she isn't interested in anything in that genre because it's unrealistic and could never happen. She does, however, love romantic comedies, which in my opinion are easily as unrealistic if not more so because of their lighthearted and sometimes shallow treatment of relationships between men and women. Sure, I'm never going to ride a dragon or walk through a wardrobe (at least as far as I've experienced so far), but the universal truths exhumed in books like Ender's Game, The Lord of the Rings, or this series are much more accurate to our own human experiences. Long live good fantasy literature!

-Lindsey Miller, [...]

5-0 out of 5 stars Earthsea is always great
I read most of the Earthsea Cycle as part of a children's literature course I did back in 1999. This is another book about Ged. But in this one he is the special educator to Lebanner/ Arren.

It is a book about the big questions, such as life and death, and the search for who we are. It is also about what we are to be and the idea of predestination. Ged says "to seek to be one's self is rare." It is also that we seek what we don't know in order to be found by our destiny.

In the book darkness is overtaking the world, singers are losing their songs, mages are forgetting their crafts. Men doubt and society is decaying, all because of fear or death. Men are giving up their true names to a lie. They are becoming slaves to a dead master.

Key Notes:
Ged is Master of Roke - Archmage
Lookfar (Ship is back again)
Isles of Myths
... Read more

20. The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Paperback: 336 Pages (2004-02-17)
list price: US$22.95 -- used & new: US$9.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1590300068
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Join Ursula K. Le Guin as she explores a broad array of subjects, ranging from Tolstoy, Twain, and Tolkien to women's shoes, beauty, and family life. With her customary wit, intelligence, and literary craftsmanship, she offers a diverse and highly engaging set of readings.The Wave in the Mind includes some of Le Guin's finest literary criticism, rare autobiographical writings, performance art pieces, and, most centrally, her reflections on the arts of writing and reading. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars A writer's joy: an inspiring collection of smart, thoughtful essays
An inspiring collection of essays on reading, writing, and social justice -- Le Guin's geeky, syllable-counting fascination with the rhythm of writing, thoughtful point of view, love of storytelling, and audible passion for her craft becomes infectious. Under her tutelage, the decision to sit at the keyboard and write, even on a beckoning sunny day, seems perfectly rational, fun and undeniable.

Le Guin discusses and admires the works of authors including: Virginia Woolf (To the Lighthouse), Jane Austin, Mark Twain (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Diaries of Adam and Eve), J.L. Borges (The Book of Fantasy), Cordwainer Smith, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Salman Rushdie, Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings), Tolstoy (War and Peace, Anna Karenina) Italo Calvino (Invisible Cities), Philip K. Dick (The Man in the High Castle), and Carol Emshwiller.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Wave in the Mind
This is an excellent resource for writers. It affords a unique perspective in a well-organized, easy to understand form. It also contains insight into this fascinating writer, Ursula Le Guin.

4-0 out of 5 stars I love you, Ursula, but please...
Ursula, I'm of your generation. I've been a fan of yours for many years, though I admit I haven't read all of your science fiction books. My favorite was "The Word For The World Is Forest." I also loved your version of the Tao teh Ching, with commentary. And I really enjoyed "The Wave in the Mind," and I thoroughly agree that roaming around in your mind is a true delight. But may I pick a little bone with you? Just a TEENY one.

You see, I'm a man. I had nothing to do with that, it was decided for me. What gets a little tiresome to me is the feminist chip you have on your shoulder. Maybe it's not a big one, but I think it's kinda outdated. You see, according to my information and observation, women write most of the books nowadays. What's more, they seem to be reading most of the books that are being read. And it's an established fact that more women are getting undergraduate degrees today than men. So why do you still gripe about male authors and such? I'd like to write a novel for a young male audience, but I don't think it's there anymore, and I'm not sure I can write a book that would please women; and I'm no retrograde patriarchal women-hater.

You griped about women's shoes and imply that men are to blame because women torture their feet so. I've had two wives (not at the same time, and after all, I HAVE been around the block a few times)and I always scolded them for buying high heels or shoes that weren't comfy. I always stressed that comfort was the prime consideration in buying shoes, and I do mean that. But no, they bought shoes that tortured their feet and gave them corns and calluses and what-all. How am I, as a man, responsible for that? As for what happened to upper-class Chinese women in the imperial days, well, I wasn't even born yet, believe it or not, and I think it was really sicko.

I had to get these things off my chest, Ursula, because I'm sincere when I say I'm really a fan of yours, and the only reason I don't give this book 5 stars is because of the occasional whines I hear from you about the horrid men. I hate the Taliban and what Moslem extremists do to women. And hey, let me tell you a little secret: I got my "feminism" in the school of hard knocks, not in a college consciousness-raising session. I was reared by a passive mother and an abusive alcoholic stepfather, and rather early in life I wondered why children had no rights. Thinking beyond that, I realized that children would never have rights until women did. So I AM in favor of women's rights and the rights of children. So please, can you take that little chip off your shoulder? I think male authors are an endangered species. I go to bookstores and libraries and most of the offerings are by women writers. And in my local library branch, "women's issues" take up two standing bookcases. "Men's issues"? A third of one shelf. And women write most of the children's books and "romances," and both genres are doing well, I hear. And the richest author in the world (that Rowling lady) is a woman, of course. Male authors just die and fade away, or drink themselves into oblivion, or blow their brains out. So, please, Ursula,"be not too hard, for life is short, and nothing is given to man," as Joan Baez once sang.

But seriously, you're one of my favorite authors, along with Margaret Atwood and Joyce Carol Oates. Keep up the good work, and I greatly appreciate the valued information you share with writer wannabes, and may that delightfully witty mind of yours never get constipated or congested!

To everyone else: buy this book. You'll love it, regardless of your gender. She shares so much with us!

5-0 out of 5 stars A treasure trove
To quote a particularly apt back-cover blurb, "What a pleasure it is to roam around in LeGuin's spacious, playful mind."This miscellany of thirty non-fiction pieces, some quite informal and all very readable, is the product of a very keen, wide-ranging, and imaginative yet disciplined mind.A few of the pieces are personal or semi-autobiographical, but most in one way or another concern literature, storytelling, reading, or the craft (and ethics) of writing fiction.Almost all contain original insights or provocative ideas and many warrant re-reading and pondering.Highly recommended, particularly for aspiring writers of fiction.

5-0 out of 5 stars Midwest Book Review, February 2005 Issue
Having read and enjoyed LeGuin's previous non-fiction works (particularly DANCING AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD,THE LANGUAGE OF THE NIGHT,and her writing book, STEERING THE CRAFT), I expected an interesting and entertaining volume of essays. What I got far exceeded my expectations. I was enchanted from the first words, and I could hardly wait to read as many of these pieces as I could gulp down each night. When I finished, I was unhappy it was all consumed. I wanted more.

The book is a cornucopia of variety. There are serious essays, playful performance pieces, literary commentary, a long and wonderful poem entitled "The Writer on, and at, Her Work," and even some sketches LeGuin has done. The volume is separated into four sections: Personal Matters, Readings, Discussions & Opinions, and On Writing. The first section gives the reader a glimpse of who Ursula LeGuin is. She talks a bit of her family, of her parents' occupations (anthropologist father and biographer mother), and of her love of libraries and islands-imaginary and real. The next two sections cover all sorts of topics. Whether she was discussing awards and gender or the submerged humor of Mark Twain's "Diaries of Adam and Eve" or literacy or rhythm in the works of JRR Tolkien, I felt I was in sure hands. I must admit that I expected the essay, "Stress-Rhythm in Poetry and Prose" to be deadly dull. Instead, I was surprised beyond my wildest imagination to find that for the first time in my entire life, someone had actually explained meter and rhythm so that it made complete sense to me. I had one of those "Aha!" moments, suddenly understanding it in a way that I had never quite managed. (So _that_ is how iambic pentameter works so effectively!) I've been raving ever since about rhythm to all who will listen.

I like the fact that LeGuin does not hesitate to address sexism, homophobia, and unfairness. Her piece entitled "Unquestioned Assumptions" is masterful. She talks about the four common varieties of unquestioned assumption (We're all men, white, straight, and Christian), and then adds a fifth which she explores at length: We're all Young. Her analysis of these issues alone was worth the price of the book.

The final section of the book is about writing and was my favorite section. LeGuin addresses many angles of craft and technique. The name of the book, THE WAVE IN THE MIND, refers to an explanation of style that Virginia Woolf once wrote in a letter. Concerning what rhythm is, Woolf had written, "A sight, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind...and then, as it breaks and tumbles in the mind, it makes words to fit it" (p. xii).LeGuin obviously agrees with this. She writes that "every novel has its characteristic rhythm. And that if the writer hasn't listened for that rhythm and followed it, the sentences will be lame, the characters will be puppets, the story will be false. And that if the writer can hold to that rhythm, the book will have some beauty. What the writer has to do is listen for that beat, hear it, keep to it, not let anything interfere with it. Then the reader will hear it too, and be carried by it" (p. 183). This is sage advice.

All of LeGuin's ideas and advice-every chapter of it-is wonderful. I loved this: "Trust your story; trust yourself; trust your readers-but wisely. Trust watchfully, not blindly. Trust flexibly, not rigidly. The whole thing, writing a story, is a high-wire act-there you are out in midair walking on a spiderweb line of words, and down in the darkness people are watching. What can you trust but your sense of balance?" (p. 234).

The examples, stories, and allusions throughout are clear and strong and elegant. Her Voice is powerful and wise, humorous and reflective. Ursula LeGuin quite clearly displays true genius. This is a book to savor, to keep, to read again and again over the years. I cannot recommend it highly enough. ~Lori L. Lake, reviewer for Midwest Book Review and author of the "Gun" series
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