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The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories Volume One: Where on Earth Hardcover – November 27, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Unreal and the real Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This two-volume collection contains 41 of the author’s personal favorites among her short stories, plus introductions giving some idea of the criteria for selection. The first volume, Where on Earth, employs largely terrestrial settings (although seen through the author’s rather original vision); the second, Outer Space, Inner Lands, reaches farther afield in both fantasy and sf. Only “Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight” and “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” are among the author’s well-known classics. On the other hand, read “Hand, Cup, Shell” or “The Matter of Segri.” Then consider that there may really be no such thing as minor Le Guin, particularly if one is disposed to savor a command of the English language that remains nearly unequaled in the ranks of English-language sf and fantasy. Equally good as an introduction to the author’s short fiction or to fill in gaps that may remain in larger collections. --Roland Green

Review

"The Unreal and the Real guns from the grim to the ecstatic, from the State to the Garden of Eden, with just one dragon between. (Every collection needs one dragon.) In every good career-spanning collection, you can observe an author growing into her authority. Here, every story, in its own way and from its own universe, told in its own mode, explains that there is no better spirit in all of American letters than that of Ursula Le Guin."
Slate

"A century from now people will still be reading the fantasy stories of Ursula K Le Guin with joy and wonder. Five centuries from now they might ask if their author ever really existed, or if Le Guin was an identity made from the work of many writers rolled into one. A millennium on and her stories will be so familiar, like myths and fairytales today, that only dedicated scholars will ask who wrote them. Such is the fate of the truly great writers, whose stories far outlive their names."
The Guardian
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Small Beer Press (November 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1618730347
  • ISBN-13: 978-1618730343
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #614,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Most every serious fan of science-fiction and fantasy is aware of the impact Le Guin's fiction has had on the genres, but many have not delved further than her classic novels like 'The Disposessed' or the 'Earthsea' cycle. I would argue that some of her very best, most powerful and imaginative work was in the short form, and these two volumes (sold separately) provide the perfect evidence. The 38 stories found within would serve as an excellent introduction for newcomers to her work, and as a definitive collection of Le Guin's best short fiction for the more serious fan.

The first volume, subtitled 'Where on Earth,' collects her more literary and experimental fiction, as opposed to the more science-fiction-based second volume. Many of the stories here blur the line between "serious" literature and science-fiction, as evidenced by the first four stories, all set within the fictional country of Orsina. But while the setting may be fictional, these four stories deal with very real, human issues, such as freedom and what it is to be human. Some of the stories are very moving, like "Buffalo Gals," in which a small child, lost in the desert, finds a new mother-figure in Coyote, the trickster god. Others are rather strange and surreal, such as "Either, OR," about a small town that's constantly on the move. Every story here is unique and well worth reading, not to mention beautifully written, and I imagine even sf-only readers will find much to love.

'Outer Space, Inner Lands' collects Le Guin's more sf-based works, though only a few would be considered "straight" or "traditional" science-fiction. Le Guin, more often than not, used science-fiction as a launching pad to explore philosophical themes that would otherwise be much more difficult to accomplish effectively.
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Format: Hardcover
Where On Earth (2012) is Volume One of The Unreal and the Real duology. Although UKL is well known for her Science Fiction and Fantasy, many stories in this volume are mundane tales. It includes an Introduction, eighteen stories, a Record of First Publication and a note About the Author.

- Introduction (2012) by Ursula K. Le Guin is a short summary of her career and notes about the stories.

- "Brothers ans Sisters" (Little Magazine, 1976) is a Orsinian Tale about sibling rivalry and romance.

- "A Week in the Country" (Little Magazine, 1976) is a Orsinian Tale about routine terror behind the Iron Curtain.

- "Unlocking the Air" (Playboy, 1990) is a Orsinian Tale about science and politics behind the Iron Curtain.

- "Imaginary Countries" (Harvard Advocate, 1973) is a Orsinian Tale about people on their summer vacation.

- "The Diary of the Rose" (Future Power, 1976) tells of the subversion of a psychotherapist with a socialist society.

- "Directions of the Road" (Orbit, 1974) relates the concerns of a tree.

- "The White Donkey" (TriQuarterly, 1980) implies a magical creature in the woods.

- "Gwilan's Harp" (Redbook, 1977) relates the life of a harpist after the destruction of her unique harp.

- "May's Lion" (Fellowship of the Stars, 1983) concerns an old woman and a sick feline.

- "Buffalo Gals, Won't You Come Out Tonight" (F&SF, 1987) involves the survivor of a plane crash with the first people.

- "Horse Camp" (New Yorker, 1986) is a play on words.

- "The Water is Wide" (chapbook, 1976) invokes suicides as a personal choice.

- "The Lost Children" (Thirteenth Moon, 1996) presents a modern pied piper.
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Format: Hardcover
These are Ursula K. Le Guin's favorites among her own stories. The first volume is a collection that is not sci-fi based, but highly readable nonetheless. Sometimes surprisingly based in a very Western-US reality, these feel a little like latter day John Steinbeck, but they have Le Guin's insight into human relationships, and that makes them wonderful.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The second collection has more of the familiar Le Guin stories. Some are better then others, but all of them are worth reading.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A collection of several short stories that will appeal to a wide range of people in surprising ways. I originally bought this for class and was blown away by it,
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I love anything by this author. One of the great writers of our time.
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The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories Volume One: Where on Earth
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