To Infinity and Back – Cannonball Read #8

The Wind’s Twelve Quarters by Ursula K. Le Guin (Please visit the Cannonball Read blog for many, many more book reviews and to help raise money to fight cancer.)

Sci Fi fantasy short story collection by the Earthsea lady. Some of it entertaining, some weird, all thought provoking.

My husband picked this book up when he went out to get the Earthsea books (which he still has not read all the way through, I married a heathen).

There are copious author’s notes that gave me an insight into LeGuin’s writing. She writes of the “psychomyth” as her main story type which greatly helped me in not trying to understand the stories in a rational sense but to let myself feel what the reading of them engendered. This book was engrossing and each piece held it’s own fascination for me.  I didn’t rush through or skip any part of it. Several of the stories are set in universes that LeGuin has written of extensively, I was only familiar with Earthsea when I picked up the book.  I may now seek out Rocanon’s World and The Left Hand of Darkness for a more complete picture after the glimpses of each of those worlds given in “Semley’s Necklace” (the most predictable of the stories that was interesting in its world building but not in its plot) and “Winter’s King” respectively.

The selections that stayed with me most strongly were “The Masters” and “The Stars Below.” In each of these the heroes pursue forbidden knowledge at the risk of their lives. They are parables on the nature of knowing for knowing’s sake and what it means to be a scientist. While her simpler stories are less challenging to read, they are not as satisfying as her psychomyths. I struggle sometimes to make my way through the stories but they stimulate my mind and I mull over them for ages, trying to decipher the meaning in what I have read.

Le Guin does not coddle her readers, even her Young Adult ones. This retrospective of her work is worthy of her storied name and should be read by die hard fan and newcomer alike.


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