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Changing Planes: Stories by Ursula K. Le…

Changing Planes: Stories (edition 2003)

by Ursula K. Le Guin, Eric Beddows (Illustrator)

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1,328368,866 (3.8)71
Title:Changing Planes: Stories
Authors:Ursula K. Le Guin
Other authors:Eric Beddows (Illustrator)
Info:Harcourt (2003), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fantasy, genetics, peace

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Changing Planes by Ursula K. Le Guin


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Starting with some cutting observations about airplane travel it moves on to the fantasy of spending time in alternate universe while waiting on airplane connections. The alternate universes are all highly imaginative echoing the ability she displayed on her other work. ( )
  waldhaus1 | Feb 20, 2019 |
This is a slender and charming travelogue of places that don't exist. The stories that make it up were published over the last five years in a variety of places, with the exception of the introductory story. "Sita Dulip's Method" sets up a frame for the whole.

Anyone can visit other planes of existence, but to make the transition you need to achieve a certain level of discomfort, boredom, and indigestion. On our plane of existence, this is only achieved when waiting in an airport between connecting flights--when you are, literally, between planes. The Interplanary Agency maintains a generally loose supervision of this travel, providing translation devices, guidebooks, and accommodations for longer stays. They'll take stronger measures in the event of real misbehavior by visitors or hosts. Without misbehavior, both wonders and quiet horrors are available to the adventurous traveler.

Enjoyable. ( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
Fifteen science fiction/fantasy stories organized around an imaginative concept, changing planes – visiting alternate dimensions, or ‘planes’ – while waiting on a long layover at the airport between planes. Each story describes one of these planar destinations, its otherworldly inhabitants and their strange customs with whimsy and a little satire too, such as the aside about hotel names in the story Great Joy. (My personal favorite, for the last resort of scoundrels line alone.) This was the second reading for me after listening to the audiobook sporadically on walks a number of years ago. I preferred the audiobook, maybe because listening to it just here and there was a better fit with the short story format. ( )
  wandaly | May 1, 2018 |
Is there any greater master of speculative fiction than Ursula K. Le Guin? 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! ( )
1 vote 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 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (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)
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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)
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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)

The misery of waiting for a connecting flight at an airport leads to the accidental discovery of alighting on other planes--not airplanes but planes of existence. LeGuin's deadpan premise frames a series of travel accounts by the tourist-narrator who describes societies and cultures that sometimes mirror our own, and sometimes open puzzling doors into the alien. BRODART CO., c2007.… (more)

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