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Worlds of Exile and Illusion: Three Complete Novels of the Hainish Series in One Volume--Rocannon's World; Planet of Exile; City of Illusions Paperback – October 15, 1996
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“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
“As good as any contemporary at creating worlds, imaginary or our own...Le Guin writes with painstaking intelligence. Her characters are complex and haunting, and her writing is remarkable for its sinewy grace.” ―Time Magazine
About the Author
Ursula K. Le Guin is widely seen as one of the greatest SF writers in the history of the genre. She has won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards on several occasions, as well as many other honors and prizes.
Top customer reviews
The first novella, Rocannon's World, has virtually nothing to do with science fiction, instead being almost entirely a work of fantasy, and not particularly good fantasy at that. Rocannon is something of an anthropological surveyor on behalf of the Hainish League, attempting to establish technologically advanced civilizations in order to present a line of defense against an anticipated invasion from outside the galaxy.
The story presents a collection of life forms which are strikingly similar to Tolkien's elves, dwarves and even classes of men. Again, not particularly original and not very captivating. Two and a half stars.
The final two novellas, Planet of Exile and City of Illusions, are really neither fantasy nor science fiction. Each is more about the interaction between intelligent hominid species, and though I was expecting science fiction, I enjoyed these two stories significantly more than the first.
In Planet of Exile, we have three vastly different cultures interacting against a highly unusual planetary climate pattern (unusual from our perspective). The World of Werel contains two native hominid species, the Tevarans, of roughly Iron Age technological proficiency, and the Gaal, more Stone Age in sophistication. Add to these, the Farborn, a much more technologically advanced species (from Earth, as it turns out), which has been on Werel for roughly 600 years. Part of an advance party from the Hainish League, they have ostensibly been exiled, supposedly as a result of a successful galactic invasion by the Shing.
The planet of Werel has a moon phase of 400 days, and an elliptical orbit of 60 moon phases. Thus, each "season" lasts roughly 15-20 years. Our story is set at the onset of Winter and the seasonal migration of the Gaal through Tevaran lands. Always warlike, the Gaal have organized this Winter and are a very real threat to the civilizations of the Tevar and the Farborn. Prejudice, jealousy and distrust mark the relationship between the two species as they attempt to cooperate against their much more numerous and savage opponents. Four stars.
The final novella, City of Illusion, finally introduces us to the Shing, the galactic invaders who threaten the Hainish League. In fact, the setting for this story is the Earth, far in the future, following its conquest by the Shing. We are introduced to Falk, a non-human hominid who finds himself stranded in a forested region of the United States (seemingly near Kentucky), without any memory of his past, only a desire to travel West to the Shing city of Es Toch, where he hopes to learn of his identity and past.
Falk undergoes much hardship and experiences many adventures during his travels through the virtually deserted and depopulated United Sates, which eventually lead to Es Toch (located in southern Utah or northern Arizona). The experiences of Falk upon reaching Es Toch neatly tie up all the loose ends, binding the three novellas together. Four and a half stars.
These final two novellas should be required reading for college level Anthropology majors.