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The Unreal and the Real, Selected Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin Volume 1: Where on Earth [Kindle Edition]

Ursula K. Le Guin
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

For fifty years, National Book Award winner Ursula K. Le Guin’s stories have shaped the way her readers see the world. Her work gives voice to the voiceless, hope to the outsider, and speaks truth to power. Le Guin’s writing is witty, wise, both sly and forthright; she is a master craftswoman.

This two-volume selection of almost forty stories taken from her eleven collections was made by Le Guin herself, as was the organizing principle of splitting the stories into the nominally realistic and fantastic.

Where on Earth focuses on Le Guin’s interest in realism and magic realism and includes many of Le Guin’s satirical, political, and experimental earthbound stories.

Highlights include World Fantasy and Hugo Award winner “Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight,” the rarely reprinted satirical short, “The Lost Children,” and the title story of her Pulitzer Prize finalist collection Unlocking the Air.

Stories in this volume were originally published in venues as varied as Playboy, TriQuarterly, Orbit, Redbook, and

The New Yorker.

Companion volume Outer Space Inner Lands includes Le Guin’s best known nonrealistic stories.

Both volumes include new introductions by the author.

The Unreal and the Real is a much-anticipated event which will delight, amuse, and provoke.

Oregon Book Award winner.

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


"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."

"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

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
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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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mundane with Imagination March 29, 2013
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant stories by a master January 3, 2013
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Collection April 26, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ursula Le Guin is one of my favorite writers. This collection of stories shows off her excellent writing skills. I especially like the way she tells the story from the perspective of different characters, or alters the story to give us different versions.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute Master Of The Genre! December 28, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This author has always written well. Yes, it is fantasy, but frequently with an underlying point to make.And, of course, an occasional dragon! I am in agreement with another reviewer that while I have enjoyed her novels in the past, I fine her short stories even more entertaining.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars recommended January 22, 2013
By jelyha
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am a long time Ursula le Guin fan but have read mostly her science fiction. These stories were all new to me. and almost every one is brilliant (there are 2 or 3 that I wasn't crazy about, but that's not bad out of 20 or so stories). Highly recommended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Collection December 26, 2012
By Chris
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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3.0 out of 5 stars Some great stories & some not March 22, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I either really liked the story or I was totally confused by the story. Some stories were very imaginative and entertaining and thoroughly got my attention, while other stories were very hard to follow.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Mark E Semler
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely collection of Le Guin's stories.
I purchased this as a kindle and the system worked well, arriving rapidly. Great stories with poignantly developed themes. Heart-moving for me.
Published 10 months ago by Ian Niven
3.0 out of 5 stars Dazzling writing, ho-hum story telling
I am an avid LeGuin fan and enjoy all her work formats: novels, novellas, shorts, essays. I would unfortunately describe this book as the "whiny / moody / display of... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Sandra M. Brown
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
These stories read like developmental exercises for a longer work instead of standalone short stories. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Drew
5.0 out of 5 stars SUPERB!
Every serious sci-fi and fantasy fan is aware of Ursula Le Guin's fiction. It has had a profound effect on the genre. Read more
Published 20 months ago by R. L. Herron
4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Ursula
Great shorts, wonderful to read again. One can see why she is one of the greatest science fiction writers ever.
Published 22 months ago by rolery
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic selection of Le Guin stories
Ursula Le Guin's selection of her own stories yields pleasures of rediscovery, and newly discovered works that were more obscure. Read more
Published 22 months ago by GreensRGood
2.0 out of 5 stars Overly Literary
I've enjoyed LeGuinn's novels and short stories off and on for decades. (Although, to be fair, I've always considered her more of an "idea" writer than one who excels with either... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Julia M Nolan
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Le Guin's most enjoyable compilation
I'm a huge fan of LeGuin's, especially The Lathe of Heaven. I didn't find these stories as compelling as her other works. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Valerie
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