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Old 11-01-2010, 09:51 AM   #1
James_Wilde
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Ursula LeGuin

I keep hearing her name as being on a par with the greats of scifi, but for some reason I've never read her. I think it's because the blurb on the back made her books out to be some kind of fantasy rather than scifi - the two are often lumped together by the ignorant.

So all you ULG fans, where would be a good place to start?

TIA
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Old 11-01-2010, 10:02 AM   #2
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My personal favourite by here is _The Lathe of Heaven_ which I believe works well as an introduction (and is matched by the surprisingly well-done PBS movie adaptation which is now available on DVD from a broadcast tape which they managed to find).

Her fantasy is also quite good, esp. the Earthsea Trilogy.

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Old 11-01-2010, 10:49 AM   #3
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I am a die hard fan of ULG, she has really unique writing and worth the read.
If you like fantasy, Wizard of Earthsea would be a good start. There are some 5 novels in the Earthsea series, I like the first 3 and the story book - Tales from Earthsea.
If you are into scifi - get the Hanish series! Not like "Earshsea", some of them may be read in a random order where others should be read in order. Probably the best book to start is "Left Hand of the Darkness" which I rate as one of my all time favorites. The book won Hugo and Nebula award and those prizes are well deserved.
Rocannon's World, Planet of Exile, City of Illusions should be read in that order as the last book is another superb read.
The Dispossessed - got Nebula, Hugo and Locus award, should I add anything for that book?
The Word for World is Forestis a novella and a must read as well...
Hope you'll enjoy them
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Old 11-01-2010, 11:27 AM   #4
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My favorite is The Lathe of Heaven.
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Old 11-01-2010, 01:12 PM   #5
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My favorite is The Lathe of Heaven.
Ditto! Totally & absolutely mind blowing.

Seconded by Left Hand of Darkness.
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Old 11-01-2010, 05:35 PM   #6
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My personal favourite LeGuin is Always Coming Home, which is kind of a multimedia reconstruction of an anthropological survey of a post-apocalyptic future California society, complete with accompanying music CD. But I admit it's not for everyone.

For a nice intro to her various styles and themes of writing, I recommend her short story collection A Fisherman of the Inland Sea, which is a fairly broad representative sampler of the sort of thing she writes about in greater detail, including an Ekumen tale set in one of her major universes. It's relatively recent, so should hopefully be fairly easy to find at least on library shelves.
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Old 11-01-2010, 11:52 PM   #7
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My personal favourite LeGuin is Always Coming Home, which is kind of a multimedia reconstruction of an anthropological survey of a post-apocalyptic future California society...
Her parents were the well known anthropologists Alfred and Theodora Kroeber who wrote Ishi, Last of His Tribe about the last Yahi Indian.

There was a public TV adaptation of The Lathe of Heaven around 1980. It was really good despite bad special effects, but avoid at all costs the more recent cable TV version with James Caan. It completely misses the point of the whole story. In fact it's moral seems to be the exact opposite of LeGuin's intent.
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Old 11-02-2010, 12:23 AM   #8
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I read The Dispossessed when I was fourteen or fifteen. It deeply affected me, though I never knew who the author was or what the book was called. (I couldn't remember.) I found it again last year. The second reading didn't live up to my expectations, but I think that's got more to do with puberty than the quality of the book.
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Old 11-02-2010, 04:05 AM   #9
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I read only The Left Hand of Darkness, shortly after it was published. It made me a great impression, for its literary value for a somehow new approach to science fiction and for the gender tints it carried (very soft and catching compared with what went around in those days). My interests drifted somewhere else and new stars caught my reading eye. I still have very nice images of that only reading. A peculiar sense of warm, tender, naked essence, literally naked, against the cold, dark emptiness of space. And the deep knowledge and understanding of snow, that for a mountaineer like me sounded very true, and very readable.

I recommend it strongly.
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Old 11-02-2010, 04:17 AM   #10
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My favorite ones by her are The Left Hand Of Darkness, The Disposssed, The Earthsea Trilogy, and The Lathe Of Heaven, Any Of these would be a good place to start.

BTW, for those whio are not aware of it the K stands for Kroeber, as in Alfred L. Kroeber, who is by many condsired to be the father of modern anthropology. So it is no wonder that many of her themes in her works are sociological in nature.
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Old 11-02-2010, 07:17 AM   #11
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One of the books in the Earthsea Trilogy actually won a National Book Award in Children's Fiction in the early '70s.


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Old 11-02-2010, 09:06 AM   #12
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Her parents were the well known anthropologists Alfred and Theodora Kroeber who wrote Ishi, Last of His Tribe about the last Yahi Indian.

There was a public TV adaptation of The Lathe of Heaven around 1980. It was really good despite bad special effects, but avoid at all costs the more recent cable TV version with James Caan. It completely misses the point of the whole story. In fact it's moral seems to be the exact opposite of LeGuin's intent.
I saw an interview with LeGuin (when the 2nd version was being announced) - she had fond memories about the early production - actually helped out with it herself - and described how they had to fake the nuclear special effects using (if I remember her words correctly) essentially melting crayons - just like those science fair crayon-powered volcanoes. They made it on a shoe-string budget - had no money for high power special effects. Which is just as well - the real special effects were cerebral.
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Old 11-02-2010, 09:28 AM   #13
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Her parents were the well known anthropologists Alfred and Theodora Kroeber who wrote Ishi, Last of His Tribe about the last Yahi Indian

Sorry about that BenG. Was half asleep this morning. did not catach that you have already mentioned the fact about her parents.
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Old 11-03-2010, 07:16 AM   #14
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Thanks, everyone. Sounds like I'd better go looking for "The Left Hand of Darkness" and "The Lathe of Heaven" at an ebook store near me.
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Old 11-04-2010, 07:54 PM   #15
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If you want a short book to start, I suggest The Word for World is Forest. It is also available as an 192-page paperback, but works of this size are very suitable for ebook readers. It is a bit expensive on a per word basis at $9.99 though.
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