Thursday, August 17, 2006

Book 14 1/2

"The Birthday Of The World" by Ursula Le Guin

If you haven't heard of Ursula Le Guin (presumably because you've been living in a bubble regarding significant sci-fi and fantasy writers of the 20th Century), follow the link above and you'll find Ms Le Guin's Wikipedia entry. A quick read through will give you some idea of her importance in the genre. Of course, I've only read about one of her other books (actually, about 3/4 of one of her other books), but I know of her.

This book is a collection of short stories exploring, among other things, gender and love in a variety of sci-fi and fantasy settings. This is old school fantasy and sci-fi in the best traditions of the genre, using fantastic settings to look at current social and other issues.

The styles of the stories are various, their execution (mostly) smooth. I think next time I have a huge backlog of Books, I'm going to have to take notes, because like the previous (and most of the next ten books) I've only got a few impressions left in my brain of this one. I definitely enjoyed it (powered through it, in fact), but I wasn't always entirely satisfied with the stories themselves. I think it's because the ideas of gender that Le Guin explores seem awfully reliant on the act of sex. A bit like Whedon's "One Moment Of Perfect Happiness" comes after shagging, I think that the sexual nature of any of the stories, while not gratuitous, is perhaps over-emphasised. But, then again, what do I know? Also, and I know this is always a risk with fantasy and sci-fi stories, but many of the names are way too long and complex.

Three and a half non-gender-specific entities out of five.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ursula (we're on a first name basis now) explores the meaning of sexuality/gender in some depth in The Left Hand of Darkness, which is in my Top 20 best Sci Fi Books Ever. Highly recommended.


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