- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 7 hours and 53 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Phoenix Books
- Audible.com Release Date: March 8, 2006
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000EXDQFY
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Changing Planes Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top customer reviews
That's right: you go to an airport to change planes.
Anyway, this is probably the most Le Guinnish book Le Guin has ever written - certainly the Le Guinniest I've read. The fifteen short pieces in it can barely be called stories; most of them do without niceties like plot and character. Instead, Le Guin exercises her fabulous talent for creating complex, interesting human societies and exhibiting them for our pleasure.
And there is a great deal of pleasure to be had here. The pieces range from Swiftian satire to fable to anthropological treatise to traveller's tale to, yes, the occasional story. They are all satisfying to, at least, my palate: I can't speak for you, of course.
Sita Dulip's technique has now been publicized and travelers everywhere are using it to alleviate airport boredom. Changing Planes is a collection of fifteen of their stories. A few of the stories are mainly anthropological or linguistic explorations of imaginary cultures, but readers who are familiar with Ursula Le Guin won't be surprised to learn that many of the stories make some sort of satirical statement about human behavior, and especially American culture. Even the short introduction manages to take a swipe at conservative politicians, authors who write bestsellers and, of course, corporations that run airlines.
Le Guin's method of using several different worlds to highlight the problems (or potential future problems) in our own, and the social satire, make Changing Planes feel somewhat like Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, which I enjoyed many years ago. Almost all of the stories in Changing Planes are poignant, and some of them will stick with me for a long time. Those I liked most are:
* "Porridge on Islac" -- In an attempt to genetically engineer better species of humans, animals, and plants, the Islacs are now left with a very strange society. The cover art for the first edition comes from this story.
* "The Silence of the Asonu" -- Adults on Asonu don't say much, so people from other planes think they are hiding a sacred secret. They desperately want to find out what it is.
* "Feeling at Home with the Hennebet" -- The people of Hennebet have strange but charming ideas about self-identity and time perception.
* "Social Dreaming of the Frin" -- In Frin, dreams are not private. Each night, the Frins dream communally.
* "The Royals of Hegn" -- In Hegn, everyone has descended from royalty, except for one family. This funny social satire pokes fun at our love of celebrities.
* "Woeful Tales from Mahigul" -- The four very short tales in this mini-collection were read by a traveler sitting in the beautiful outdoor library of Mahigul. I wish I could go there!
* "Wake Island" -- Genetic engineering again. This frightening story is about a cohort of youngsters who were engineered to need no sleep. Scientists hoped they'd be geniuses, but it didn't turn out quite like that.
* "The Island of the Immortals" -- On this plane, diamonds are not valuable and immortality is a disease.
Each of these stories is, of course, written in Le Guin's straightforward, unpretentious, smart and lovely style. The audiobook version is narrated by Gabrielle de Cuir, whose attractive voice perfectly fits this style. Whenever I review an audiobook, I like to pick up a print copy from my library, too, just so I can see if I'm missing anything. Sure enough, if I hadn't looked at the print version, I would have missed the delightful black and white illustrations by Eric Beddows. I especially liked the picture of the communal dream in "Social Dreaming of the Frin."
Changing Planes won the 2004 Locus Award for best story collection. Many of the stories had been previously published over several years before being combined to form this themed collection, but they work beautifully together. All of them are short escapes into fascinating new planes of existence. Changing Planes would be the perfect book to read next time you're waiting for a flight!
Reading Changing Places is like getting a series of letters from a traveling friend with newsy reports of her latest stops. But these are not your usual colorful locals and odd customs. The narrator meets people who are mostly human (and part plants and animals), entire populations who migrate north to breed and return south when their young are grown, people compelled to build stone structures that no one uses, people cursed with flight where flyers are considered deformed, and others--each more outlandish than the last.
The collection showcases LeGuin's world-building talent. Sixteen stories each present a unique world with one or more species of cool, outrageous, thought provoking, or weird sentient beings. It's good these various being we meet are interesting because not much actually happens in any of the stories. This gives the collection something of a contemplative mood, like a series of miniature studies in extraterrestrial sociology.
So, for LeGuin's fans, this collection offers two things she does best: build worlds and examine their social structures. Few writers come up with so many and so varied new ways to imagine life. And few make it interesting enough you want to keep turning the pages to see what the next plane change will bring.
Most recent customer reviews
Some are very good, some did not hit the spot for me.
While this is Ursual Le Giun, do not expect EarthSea.Read more
illustrations even better!Read more