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The Word for World is Forest Paperback – July 6, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Second Edition edition (July 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765324644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765324641
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Le Guin writes in quiet, straightforward sentences about people who feel they are being torn apart by massive forces in society— technological, political, economic—and who fight courageously to remain whole.” 
—The New York Times Book Review

“Le Guin writes with painstaking intelligence. Her characters are complex and haunting, and her writing is remarkable for its sinewy grace.”
—Time

“Like all great writers of fiction, Ursula K. L e Guin creates imaginary worlds that restore us, hearts eased, to our own.”
—The Boston Globe

About the Author

Ursula K. Le Guin is the author of more than three dozen books for children and adults. She was awarded a Newbury Honor for the second volume of the Earthsea Cycle, The Tombs of Atuan. Among her many other distinctions are the Margaret A. Edwards Award, a National Book Award, and five Nebula Awards. She lives in Portland, Oregon.


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Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in science fiction or Le Guin's work.
Eric Titus
It is a book that takes one deep into dreams in many forms and points toward a future of connection to and compassion for and with all.
David Roy, Ph D
It doesn't help that the Athsheans embody just about every romanticized stereotype of the native primitive.
D. Ben Flasher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 56 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
On the planet Athshe, there is no word for war, there is no concept of murder, there is no language of hate. The world is one vast, green, gentle forest full of people who live between the world-time and the dream-time, who resolve their conflicts by means of ceremonial singing. Then the Terran League discovers Athshe's existence and a pattern of "colonization"-very similar to the exploitation of "primitive" cultures on Earth-begins to destroy the planet and its people; and, eventually, one young Athshean named Selver learns how to hate. On reading the back cover of "The Word for World is Forest" the novel struck me as being somewhat simplistic: good aliens live in tune with nature, evil destructive humans rape their planet, revenge ensues with tidy moral at the end. I was pleasantly surprised. The contrast between humans and Athsheans is much more than good-bad or nature-machine; the story is about more than the forced loss of innocence. Over the course of the novel Selver, whose wife was raped and killed by one of the human officers, becomes a god: he is the means by which new concepts are brought into the culture, and the concept which he learns and then teaches is war. The book is as much about the irreversible exchange of truly alien ideas as it is about anything.
Despite its seemingly formulaic premise, "The Word for World is Forest" is a thought-provoking and somewhat disturbing short novel written in Le Guin's usual poetic prose.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 28, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
You can count on one thing after reading a Le Guin novel: a lot to think about afterward. This book tells of future Earthlings, who have invaded a lushly forested planet called Athshea. The natives are meter-tall humanoids covered in green fur, a peace-loving tribal culture. All the humans do seems destructive and senseless, and they decide they must find a way to make them leave. Obviously an analogy of European/American relationa/attitudes toward Third World nations; in anyone else's hands this could easily become mawkish and heavy-handed. Le Guin, on the other hand, transforms it into a powerful statement.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Ed Luhrs on March 22, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel moves along. No wasted words. Sharp, pertinent symbolism, surreal imagery, and great dialogue abound.

Unfortunately, I think Le Guin picked a title that prompts ordinary folk to go: huh? "The Word for World Is Forest," however, is a Le Guin masterpiece. It is charged with the best in her, the energy of her earlier days.

At her worst, Le Guin's writing can be pedantic and sleep-inducing. Yet she has written so much that is excellent that I cannot help but have a great deal of respect for her. This novel is one of the quickest jolts of science fiction fun that I have yet to experience. It moves swiftly, and its meaning stays with you for a long time.

* * *

Eleven years later, let me add: much of her newer stuff is great too. I just read some of the stories in The Birthday of the World. Wow. I need to read more. She'll always be one of my all-time favorites.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Stefan VINE VOICE on August 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
Tor recently re-released the Hugo winner The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin in a lovely paperback edition, so I thought it finally was time to check out this famous short novel, originally published in the seventies.

The novel is part of Le Guin's famous HAINISH CYCLE (see also, among others, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed) but can be read completely separately, although being familiar with the larger story will give you a better understanding of the broader context and some of the technologies, such as NAFAL and the famous ansible. Earth-based humans have established a logging colony on the world of New Tahiti and are actively exploiting the pristine world and the indigenous humanoid population, called "creechies" by their human slave-masters but originally called Athsheans. They are a mystical and peaceful-seeming species that lives in harmony with its forest-covered world and practices lucid dreaming, but when the vastly outnumbered humans push them too far, a surprisingly strong and occasionally brutal resistance begins...

Ursula K. Le Guin packs a lot of depth into this short, elegant novel. The contrast between the two opposing world views couldn't be more clear, but there are also nuances within each culture, most noticeably on the human side with some characters that are more aware of the Athsheans' cultural identity, and others who treat them as little more than animals or slaves. Selver, the Athshean protagonist, is a complex, fascinating character who I'd love to have seen in a longer novel. By contrast, the human Davidson is so predictable and flat that he barely rises above the level of a caricature; other human characters luckily show more complexity.
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