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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 6, 2012
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. "Mazes," about an alien "lab rat" forced to perform tests for a researcher who will never understand it, no matter how hard the alien tries, is a powerful meditation on language barriers and communication breakdown. Also included are the classics "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," an abstract, philosophical tale of a utopian city, and "Nine Lives," a highly effective and moving story dealing with cloning and human bonding. Both of these stories have been reprinted dozens of times in various anthologies, and with good reason, as they're both essential reading for fans of speculative fiction.

These two volumes do an amazing job of collecting the very best short fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin, and cover a wide spectrum of moods, genre, and style, which makes for a nearly overwhelming, kaleidoscopic read, and one that deserves to be read not only by fans of science-fiction and fantasy, but by fans of just-plain-great writing and storytelling. While I've been an admirer of her work for a long time, that admiration has reached a whole new level after having read these two superb collections. And I have a pretty strong feeling many others will be feeling the exact same way in the not-too-distant future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2013
So glad Ursula selected the stories herself (she described her selection processes in the intro) and included only her own favorites. I have read some of the stories before, including the very famous: "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" as well as the not so famous stories like "The Shobies' Story." It has my all time favorite story, "Solitude," in it; but that honored place may be displaced by a new story (to me) I just read, "the Poacher." I am delighted that she has picked some not so well known stories so we'll have a chance to see these hidden treasures. True to all her stories, these stories here will make you think, will shock you out of your complacency, will teleport you temporarily to worlds that are so strange and yet so familiar.

I bought the Kindle version of this two volume set, because I ran out of space on my book shelves; but now I wish I have hard copies because I know I'll be going back to read and re-read many of the stories.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2013
I had never read anything by Le Guin and I have thoroughly enjoyed the stories in this book. I recommend it to everyone who enjoys well written, surprising short stories, and particularly to people who think might be interested in science fiction but have not tried it yet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2012
This new set of selected stories by the author is a gift to those of us who have been following her work for over 40 years and have longed to have a definitive set of the short stories. This would be a great set of volumes to use in teaching literary form and techniques.
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on July 6, 2014
Ursula K. LeGuin is one of my favorite authors and this collection did not disappoint. I had only read one of the stories before, but had forgotten the ending. These are typical short stories in that many have dour or mixed endings, while others have exultant endings. If you don't like tragedies these stories may not be for you, but if you like inventive stories about strange societies these will fit the bill. While many of these societies may seem off the wall a little reading of anthropology can make them fit in with human possibilities. Some stories may actually qualify as long short stories while there are some of only a few pages. Most have good character development. A large number fit in with her other Hainish stories, and a couple really make more sense if you have read "The Left Hand of Darkness"
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on July 29, 2013
I am a totally unabashed Le Guin fan. The quality of her writing, stories, imagination and invention is ways so high. Each new found story is a little treasure. Hoping for at least a few more...
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on July 5, 2015
I don't have much to add to UKL's praise. She is such an imaginative, creative, and deep-diving author. This collection of stories include many that I had never before read. Some were slow to get going, but still well worth reading. Others grabbed me immediately.
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on April 1, 2013
Lovely stories that make you think.... The author helps you understand life while she talks about distant planets... but the truth is inside you.
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on July 27, 2014
le guin is always good
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on October 18, 2014
and mysterious
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