A collection of stories/vignettes connected by an amusing premise: while caught in the unique state of boredom experienced only by the traveller stuck with a layover at an airport, a person can quite literally "change planes" and visit other realms of existence.
(One gets the feeling that LeGuin doesn't like modern travel much - and indeed, on her website it says that the author is currently taking a sabbatical from any kind of book tours or speaking engagements.)
Each section describes, from the visitor's perspective, a different 'plane' and the people who live there. The segments are a bit too brief and lacking in full development for me to consider then full 'stories' - but the writing is wonderful, and the book is just full of brilliantly insightful and amusing ideas. LeGuin apparently has many more flashes of creativity on a routine business trip than most authors do in a career. These are the ideas she hasn't fleshed out into full novels, but the book is still a rewarding experience - both funny and with many serious-yet-wry observations about our own world as well as potential alien ways of life.
a good collection of short stories; it reads like fantastic anthropology.
Science Fiction of a Different Ilk
Funny that they put the label "Fantasy" on the spine of this book. I would call it science fiction, but then, I'm a woman, and see science fiction differently. She comments on the ways that technology and environment shape beings, rather than commenting solely on the technology and environment themselves.
I found this book somewhat repetitive toward the end, but fascinating in its perspectives.
This is such an inventive book. Really smart short stories that explore what life could be like if things were just a little different. For example, what happens if genetic modifications get taken too far (Porridge on Islac) or what it would look like if corporations colonized planets (Great Joy)?
Some of the stories are sweet, a lot are sad, but all are better than sitting in an airport!
I'm certain Margaret Atwood read this before she wrote Oryx and Crake. One story definitely spawned the premise of Atwood's book. It's good that those two can feed off of each other because they create some pretty good stuff.
This collection of short stories centers around multiple worlds, each unique and each a comment on an aspect of humanity. The true standouts are few but they are: "The Building," "Wake Island," and "The Fliers of Gy." Unfortunately, the rest were somewhat forgettable. It's still a beautiful showcase for LeGuin's fantastic imagination. Three and a half stars.
This book was really cool. It has many short stories, all of them were great.
The opening of this book is a description of an airport waiting room that will resonate with anyone who has ever sat in an airport waiting - just waiting. The stories are bound together by the idea that during all that waiting you can take time travel side trips to other worlds. Le Guin uses her anthropological background to create believable cultures of unbelievable life forms. Beautifully written as all Le Guin's books are.
There is a light and humorous tone to these stories of fantastical societies until you catch yourself thinking, "That sounds just like my father-in-law", or even "That sounds like me", and you realize how much of our human personalities, both our strengths and our foibles, Ms. LeGuin has put into her tales. Most of her writing I find depressing; most of these tales I did not.