Monday, February 16, 2009

Ursula K. Le Guin: The Birthday of the World

I had almost finished this collection of short stories. I was on the last one - a novella, really - called Paradises Lost, which is about a generation-ship heading through space towards an earth-like planet. The 5th generation is reaching adulthood, and rather serene in the knowledge that they won't reach their destination until they themselves are grandparents. The ship is the world - safe, temperate, clean. I had just reached the part where the main character Hsing is about to find out that they may reach the Destination sooner than she'd ever thought, when I had to take Minima down town to an appointment. When I returned, my husband had returned the book to the library together with another one that I hadn't read yet. Because I'd put them in the wrong place, accidentally placing them on top a pile of books he was returning. I was - am - more upset than the situation warranted. I did spend some time on the Internet to see if I could just read the end online, but no luck. I hope no-one gets their hands on it before I have a chance to re-lend it. Feck all anyway.

It's a great novella, wonderfully describing the thoughts and culture of the isolated travellers. I might even get to finish it one day. Googling for it led me to the information that it has been adapted for the stage as an opera, which is exciting, and gives the Aniara parallell more zing. Also, I found this blog entry just choc full of marvellous reading tips! The other short stories are also all good. Le Guin is very good at imagining different cultures, and not afraid to make thought experiments that we might shy from normally. Several of these short stories centre on relationships and sex, with fucking being a much-used word. This crudeness, if you will, differs immensely from the by comparison almost ethereal tone in the Earthsea chronicles. So so far I'm very pleased with my Le Guin kick... feel free to recommend books in the comments section if you're a stalwart fan!

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