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The Wind's Twelve Quarters: Stories by Le Guin, Ursula K. Paperback – December 14, 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Delicious . . . her worlds are haunting psychological visions molded with firm artistry.” (Library Journal)

About the Author

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin was born in 1929 in Berkeley, and lives in Portland, Oregon. As of 2014, she has published twenty-one novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry, and four of translation, and has received many honors and awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, and PEN/Malamud. Her most recent publications are Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems and The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (December 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060914343
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060914349
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Every story in *The Wind's Twelve Quarters* is memorable, which makes it one of my favorite collections of Ursula Le Guin's short stories. They are arranged chronologically by order of publication, so you can see the maturation of the artist in these pages.
"Semley's Necklace" was the germ of the later novel *Rocanon's World.* In this story, Rocanon was a minor character who just wouldn't "sink obediently into obscurity" as the author says in her introduction, and "you really can't argue with these people."
"April in Paris" is an entertaining time travel story in which characters from past and future travel to 1463 to join a literature professor from our time in his quest to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the poet Francois Villon.
"The Masters" is, in the author's words, her first "genuine authentic real virgin wool SF story." But it's also a psychomyth, set in a future time when math had become one of the "black arts" and its rediscovery becomes most costly for the hero.
"Darkness Box" is a magical tale set in no-time - a sort of fable - one of Le Guin's fortes.
"The Word of Unbinding," like "Semley's Necklace" later grew into a book - four actually - *The Earthsea Trilogy* and a sequel. It lays the groundwork for the most consistent essential element of how magic works in Earthsea.
"The Rule of Names" is a sword and sorcery tale, but with an interesting little twist.
"Winter's King" is another seminal story, the beginning idea for Le Guin's masterpiece, *The Left Hand of Darkness.
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Format: Paperback
Ursula Le Guin is one of my favorite authors (SF or otherwise) - "The Dispossesed" being my personal choice as the best book she wrote. But this story collection is definitely a tie for the second place along with "The Left Hand of Darkness". No doubt the inclusion of the story "The Day before the Revolution" affects my choice - but that's not the only great story this book has. In fact, I liked almost all the stories that are included - and a book which contains even 3 or 4 stories as good as "The Day before..", "The Masters", "Things", "The ones who walked away from Omelas", etc. deserves to be considered as a classic. Personally I am fascinated by Laia Asieo Odo, the anarchist philosopher who is alluded to in "The Dispossesed" (part of the reason I like it so much is its almost believable portraiture of a functioning anarchist society) - and is only explored as a person in the story "The Day before..". I wish Le Guin had given a novel-length treatment of Odo as a person and her development of the syndicalist philosophy.
To go back to the stories in "The Wind's Twelve Quarters" - what I find so fascinating is the wide range of stories that are included: from the delightful dargon-and-sorcery fantasy of "The Word of Unbinding" and "The Rule of Names" (the only comparably charming dragons I can think of appear in some of the fables of Orson Scott Card) to the melancholic, existential "Things" and "The stars below" (where an astronomer whose observatory has been burnt down by a mob, ends up living in a mine where the sparkle of the minerals become "the stars below" for him).
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have a two volume collection from Grafton, the UK publisher, and it ranks in my 'most read' section. The author has a variety of stories with comments that are helpful to fans and writers alike. Those that boast their ignorance of SF literature should be given this volume and made to read 'Nine Lives' and 'The Ones that walk from Olemas'. The characters are well drawn and believable and her stories concentrate on the emotional moments within the narrative rather than clever explanations. A fine storyteller that should not be passed of in the SF ghetto.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Wind's Twelve Quarters gave me a deeper understanding of one of my fave SF writers of all time--and pure reading enjoyment. The stories just blew me away--especially the last two, 'The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas' and 'The Day Before the Revolution.'(So had 'Nine Lives,' but I'd seen it before.) About the ones who walk away,I don't think they've gone to findhelp for the child. Like the author says, 'helping' the child wouldn't really be helping him/her much and besides, it would ruin the happiness of thousands. In a way, I guess, they're refusing to live happily at the cost of another--but it's more than that. They know how terribly wrong it is to know the child is there, and accept it. Even if that is the basis of all their happiness and their achievements. They're not just running away from that reality, but trying to do something about the terrible injustice in it, because sacrifice of one for thousands is right only when it's voluntary and comes from love. Remember how Dostoyevsky makes the pious younger brother respond to his elder brother's cynicism about tormenting one innocent child for the happiness of all mankind. He said Jesus had played the role of that child. Not that the man's sacrifice has turned this world into a near-paradise like Omelas, but Omelas isn't paradise anyway, because there is such gross injustice in it. Can the unwilling scapegoat be the only kind of sacrifice that works? The ones who walk away are out to find out, I guess. Joy to the ones who want questions, not answers.
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