Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ursula K Le Guin: Worlds of Exile and Illusion

Three novels in one, Rocannon's World, Planet of Exile, City of Illusions. 

Rocannon's World just isn't very good, somewhere half-way through I just lose interest. You can tell that she hadn't found her voice and style yet, but was writing something much more generic. Planet of Exile was a lot more enjoyable, and I really liked having City of Illusions to read directly afterwards, since they're connected. As novels they are a little lacking, they lack tempo a bit and towards the end lose detail and sort of just peter out.

It's very interesting, and I think Le Guin has written about that herself somewhere, that she can be so comparatively daring (for that time) as to have the exiled Earthlings be all black, but it was hard to imagine a society without clear divisions between men and women - with women at the bottom (clearly this is based on some human patriarchal cultures). I mean, even though we don't want to be we are trapped into certain ways of thinking by our culture and upbringing. I think I wrote that this aged The Left Hand of Darkness too - it was very difficult for a writer in the sixties to imagine that a lot of the gender-specific ways of behaving and reacting would disappear.

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