The Visionary


Ursula K. Le Guin The Visionary

My mother and aunt said that when I was learning to talk, I talked to people they could not see or hear, sometimes speaking in our language and sometimes saying words or names they did not know. I can’t remember doing that, but I remember that I could not understand why people said that a room was empty or that there was nobody in the gardens, because there were always people of different kinds, everywhere. Mosty they stayed quietly or were going about their doings, or passing through. I had already learned that nobody talked to them and that they did not often pay heed or answer when I tried to talk to them, but it had not occurred to me that other people did not see them.

I had a big argument with my cousin once when she said there was nobody in the wash house, and I had seen a whole group of people there, passing things from hand to hand and laughing silently, as if they were playing some gambling game. My cousin, who was older than I, …

The Seasons of the Ansarac


Ursula K. Le Guin

The Seasons of the Ansarac

I talked for a long time once with an old Ansar. I met him at his Interplanary Hostel, which is on a large island far out in the Great Western Ocean, well away from the migratory routes of the Ansarac. It is the only place visitors from other planes are allowed, these days.

Kergemmeg lived there as a native host and guide, to give visitors a little whiff of local color, for otherwise the place is like a tropical island on any of a hundred planes— sunny, breezy, lazy, beautiful, with feathery trees and golden sands and great, blue- green, white-maned waves breaking on the reef out past the lagoon. Most visitors came to sail, fish, beachcomb, and drink fermented ь, and had no interest otherwise in the plane or in the sole native of it they met. They looked at him, at first, and took photos, of course, for he was a striking figure: about seven feet tall, thin, strong, angular, a little stooped by age, with a narrow head, la…

The Royals of Hegn


Ursula K. LeGuin

The Royals of Hegn

Hegn is a small country, an island monarchy blessed with a marvelous climate and
a vegetation so rich that lunch or dinner there consists of reaching up to a
tree to pluck a succulent, sunwarmed, ripe, rare steakfruit, or sitting down
under a llumbush and letting the buttery morsels drop onto one?s lap or straight
into one?s mouth. And then for dessert there are the sorbice blossoms, tart,
sweet, and crunchy.

Four or five centuries ago the Hegnish were evidently an enterprising, stirring
lot, who built good roads, fine cities, noble country houses and palaces, all
surrounded by literally delicious gardens. Then they entered a settling-down
phase, and at present they simply live in their beautiful houses. They have
hobbies, pursued with tranquil obsession. Some take up the cultivation and
breeding of ever finer varieties of grapes. (The Hegnian grape is self-fermenting;
a small cluster of them has the taste, scent, and effect of a…

The Other Wind


The sorcerer Alder fears sleep. He dreams of the land of death, of his wife who died young and longs to return to him so much that she kissed him across the low stone wall that separates our world from the Dry Land-where the grass is withered, the stars never move, and lovers pass without knowing each other. The dead are pulling Alder to them at night. Through him they may free themselves and invade Earthsea.

Alder seeks advice from Ged, once Archmage. Ged tells him to go to Tenar, Tehanu, and the young king at Havnor. They are joined by amber-eyed Irian, a fierce dragon able to assume the shape of a woman.

The threat can be confronted only in the Immanent Grove on Roke, the holiest place in the world and there the king, hero, sage, wizard, and dragon make a last stand.

Le Guin combines her magical fantasy with a profoundly human, earthly, humble touch.

The New Atlantis


Ursula K Le Guin

The New Atlantis

COMING BACK FROM my Wilderness Week I sat by an odd sort of man in the bus. For a long time
we didn’t talk; I was mending stockings and he was reading. Then the bus broke down a few miles
outside Gresham. Boiler trouble, the way it generally is when the driver insists on trying to go over thirty.
It was a Supersonic Superscenic Deluxe long distance coal-burner, with Home Comfort, that means a
toilet, and the seats were pretty comfortable, at least those that hadn’t yet worked loose from their bolts,
so everybody waited inside the bus; besides, it was raining. We began talking, the way people do when
there’s a breakdown and a wait. He held up his pamphlet and tapped it—he was a dry-looking man with
a school-teacherish way of using his hands—and said, «This is interesting. I’ve been reading that a new
continent is rising from the depths of the sea.»

The blue stockings were hopeless. You have to have something besides holes to darn on…

The Flyers Of Gy. An Interplanary Tale


Ursula K. LeGuin

The Flyers Of Gy. An Interplanary Tale

The people of Gy look pretty much like people from our plane except that they
have plumage, not hair. A fine, fuzzy down on the heads of infants becomes a
soft, short coat of speckled dun on the fledglings, and with adolescence this
grows out into a full head of feathers. Most men have ruffs at the back of the
neck, shorter feathers all over the head, and tall, erectile crests. The head-plumage
of males is brown or black, barred and marked variously with bronze, red, green,
and blue. Women’s plumes usually grow long, sometimes sweeping down the back
almost to the floor, with soft, curling, trailing edges, like the tail-plumes of
ostriches; the colors of the feathers of women are vivid—purple, scarlet, coral,
turquoise, gold. Gyr men and women are downy in the pubic region and pit of the
arm and often have short, fine plumage over the whole body. People with brightly
colored bodyfeathers are a cheerful sight when nak…

Tales from Earthsea


If you have never read an Earthsea book, this collection isn’t the place to start, as the author points out in her thoughtful foreword; begin with A Wizard of Earthsea. If you insist on starting with Tales of Earthsea, read the foreword and the appended «Description of Earthsea» before proceeding to the five stories (three of which are original to this book).

Solitude


Ursula Le Guin

Solitude

An addition to «POVERTY: The Second Report on Eleven-Soro» by Mobile
Entselenne’temharyonoterregwis Leaf, by her daughter, Serenity.

MY MOTHER, A FIELD ETHnologist, took the difficulty of learning anything about
the people of Eleven-Soro as a personal challenge. The fact that she used her
children to meet that challenge might be seen as selfishness or as selflessness.
Now that I have read her report I know that she finally thought she had done
wrong. Knowing what it cost her, I wish she knew my gratitude to her for
allowing me to grow up as a person.

Shortly after a robot probe reported people of the Hainish Descent on the
eleventh planet of the Soro system, she joined the orbital crew as back-up for
the three First Observers down on planet. She had spent four years in the
tree-cities of nearby Huthu. My brother In Joy Born was eight years old and I
was five; she wanted a year or two of ship duty so we could spend some time in a
Hainis…