Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Changing Planes by Ursula K. Le Guin

Changing Planes (2003)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,234336,440 (3.8)69

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 69 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Is there any greater master of speculative fiction than [a:Ursula K. Le Guin|874602|Ursula K. Le Guin|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1244291425p2/874602.jpg]? Here she uses the maddening experience of changing planes (read: sitting in airports post 9-11) as a perfect time to change planes (read: alternate levels of existence). Like an anthropologist in the field, she gives short reports on imagined societies that are so advanced as to be post-language and so primitive as to extend the Christmas shopping season year round and to stage battles with preordained outcomes. There are angel-like creatures with wings and devil-like creatures with hooves. Builders and birds, queens, placid people and immortal souls, and places like libraries and gardens and hotels and grog shops and streets that change direction as you traverse them--all are conjured in Le Guin's clear, unreliable, contradictory, inspirational, satirical voice. Whisper in my ear anytime at all, o great Le Guin! ( )
  deckla | Apr 5, 2016 |
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. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
There’s a cunning pun in that title there. It goes like this: a person waiting one day in an airport to catch a connecting flight accidentally discovered a way to visiting other worlds, or, as Le Guin has it in this collection, other planes. Get it? Aeroplanes and alternate universes/planes. And hence this collection of, well, fables, all based on other planes visited by a narrator from Earth. I am not a big fan, I must admit, of fables, though I am certainly a fan of Le Guin’s fiction. So while I can appreciate the art and cleverness with which Changing Planes is put together, I didn’t much enjoy the stories. Meh. ( )
  iansales | Dec 5, 2015 |
Poor reviews
  gigi9988776 | Aug 25, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Airports are horrible places — the boring waits, the noisy rush, the germy stale air, the ugly utilitarian décor, the nasty food. That is, until Sita Dulip, while waiting for her delayed flight from Chicago to Denver and noticing that “the airport offers nothing to any human being except access to the interval between planes,” developed a technique to change planes inside the airport. She discovered that in the airport the traveler is uncomfortable, displaced, and already between planes and can therefore easily slip into other planes of existence while waiting for a flight.

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! ( )
3 vote Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Perhaps as a result, the book is marred in parts by signs of haste, bits of undigested spleen and even some uncharacteristic patches of cliché. ... Luckily, there is much in Changing Planes to make up for such lapses. Le Guin's intellectual fertility remains unmatched. Nearly every interplanary destination is a fully realized world, complete with language, nomenclature, landscape and social organization. And then, every so often, one comes across the ultimate seduction, a trademark Le Guin passage, perfect in every phrase and cadence, such as this description of the tenuous, cloudy plane of Zuehe ...
added by lquilter | editWashington Post, Elizabeth Ward (Aug 31, 2003)
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
The range of the airplane--a few thousand miles, the other side of the world, coconut palms, glaciers, the poles, the Poles, a lama, a llama, etc.--is pitifully limited compared to the vast extent and variety of experience provided, to those who know how to use it, by the airport.
We'd all like to see the moonstone towers of Nezihoa, as pictured in Roman's Planary Guide, the endless steppes of mist, the dim forests of the Sezu, the beautiful men and women of the Zuehe, with their slightly translucent clothes and bodies, their pale grey eyes, their hair the color of tarnished silver, so fine the hand does not know when it touches it. ("Confusions of Uni", p.231)
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0441012248, Mass Market Paperback)

At first, readers may find Ursula K. Le Guin's collection Changing Planes rather light, if not slight. However, as the reader continues through its sixteen stories (ten of which are original to this volume), the collection achieves considerable weight and power.

A punny conceit links the stories and provides the title of Changing Planes. Conceived before September 11, 2001, this conceit now, unfairly, looks odd. Trapped too many times in the misery of pre-terrorist airports, Sita Dulip discovered how to change planes: not airplanes, but planes of existence. Now the people of Sita's earth travel between alternate universes.

The stories in Changing Planes are strong expressions of Le Guin's considerable anthropological and psychological insight. However, these tales don't follow traditional plot structures or character-development methods. They read more like travelogues, or socio-anthropological articles on foreign nations or tribes. They explore exotic literary planes lying somewhere between Jorge Luis Borges's ficciones and Horace Miner's anthropological satire Body Ritual Among the Nacirema. However, unlike Miner's parody, Le Guin's wise tales are rarely satirical, though "The Royals of Hegn" sharply skewers the absurdity of royalty-worship, and "Great Joy" rightly attacks the boundless corporate criminality familiar to anyone who's read a newspaper since 2001.

One of America's greatest authors, Ursula K. Le Guin has received the National Book Award, the Newberry Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, five Nebula Awards, and five Hugo Awards. --Cynthia Ward

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:42 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"Missing a flight, waiting in an airport, listening to garbled announcements - who doesn't hate that misery?" "But Sita Dulip from Cincinnati finds a method of bypassing the crowds at the desks, the long lines at the toilets, the nasty lunch, the whimpering children and punitive parents, the bookless bookstores, and the blue plastic chairs bolted to the floor." "A mere kind of twist and a slipping bend, easier to do than to describe, takes her not to Denver but to Strupsirts, a picturesque region of waterspouts and volcanoes, or to Djeyo where she can stay for two nights in a small hotel with a balcony overlooking the amber Sea of Somue. This new discovery - changing planes - enables Sita to visit bizarre societies and cultures that sometimes mirror our own and sometimes open doors into the alien."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
2 avail.
18 wanted
1 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.8)
1 1
1.5 1
2 14
2.5 3
3 74
3.5 27
4 113
4.5 15
5 56

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 119,743,818 books! | Top bar: Always visible