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Worlds of Exile and Illusion by Ursula K. Le…
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Worlds of Exile and Illusion (1996)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

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Le Guin's first three Hainish novels collected in one spellbinding volume. For such short novels (the longest, City of Illusions, is barely 150 pages) Le Guin packs a hell of a lot of story, ideas and emotion into them. There is no feeling of a writer "finding her voice" here. These stories spring to life fully formed.

In Rocannon's World the sole survivor of a planetary survey mission must go on a quest to warn other worlds of the secret invasion by a deadly enemy. It's a simple enough trope - a group of people travelling across vast distances to do/find/fight something. But Le Guin fills the story with such pathos, especially at the end, that it is quite moving.

In Planet of Exile group of human colonists, abandoned to their own devices when the League of Worlds collapsed, must help a group of native hilfs (High Intelligence Lifeforms) fight off a marauding army of savages. Again the story is shot through with loss, and a real fight for survival. This is probably my favourite of the three.

In City of Illusions a man is found in the forests of Earth, naked and mindless and is nursed back to health and sanity. But he has no memory of his previous life. He must then go on a journey to the city of Es Toch, home of the alien Shing, who have conquered Man and destroyed the League of Worlds. But who is the man, where did he come from? The most convoluted of the three novels here, Le Guin packs the story with plot and, despite threatening to spiral out of control towards the end, manages to tie all the story strands up, the man, Falk, achieving some kind of victory.

The common denominator here is the brilliant prose. This is SF that is a pleasure to read, fully formed characters, logical plot development and weighty ideas. If you haven't read any Le Guin, or only know her Earthsea books, try some of her Science Fiction. This is the ideal place to start. Wonderful stuff. ( )
  David.Manns | Nov 28, 2016 |
I think the second is my favorites, the third my least favorite. My thoughts about gender are still percolating. ( )
  endlesserror | Oct 13, 2015 |
Rocannon's World:
When all the other members of his ethnographic survey are killed, Gaverel Rocannon is stranded on the planet Fomalhaut II. The weapons that were used in the attack could only have come from an alien military faction. To stop them Rocannon must get a message back to the League of All Worlds. But on this planet the only equipment that can span the distance between the stars quickly enough to deliver the message in time could only be located on the enemy’s base. So Rocannon and his hosts from what The Abridged Handy Pocket Guide to Intelligent Life-forms describes as a “clan-descent society,” with a “feudal-heroic culture,” set out on a quest to find and infiltrate the base in the forgotten lands to their south. Will it be swords, lances, and griffins against helicopter gunships and faster than light bombers?

Planet of Exile:
The native girl Rolery, born out of season and impetuous, finds herself strangely attracted to Jakob Agat Altetta, the dark leader of the farborn, even though her people consider the farborn to be inhuman practitioners of witchcraft, and so rude that they would look you directly in the eyes. The attraction is mutual, and it leads to bitter misfortune and near disaster just when the two peoples should unite against a common enemy.

City of Illusions:
Five years ago a man without memory or language stumbled out of the wilds of the forest. At least he had the body of man, but his yellow eyes were like those of a cat. In Zove’s household the family debated what he was and what to do with him. Was he a spy, an agent of their enemy the Shing, or possibly an alien, even though, “No being from the Other Worlds that once were know has walked on Earth for twelve hundred years.” They let him live and learn, and now he’s about to journey across a continent to the city of the Shing, the masters of the “mind-lie” that defeated the League of All Worlds and enslaved humanity, to uncover the truth about himself.

These first three of Le Guin’s science fiction novels were published in 1966 and 1967. Each is set on a different planet. The backstory to all three stories, each set about a millennium apart, is the rise and fall of an interstellar human, or perhaps humanoid civilization. During this time humanity gains and develops the skill of telepathy. More in the forefront of the stories is the clash between cultures, the interstellar and the native, and in final one, City of Illusions, between human and the truly alien.

The three, taken together as in this edition, are two heroic quests framing a siege. If all this sounds more like the themes found in heroic fantasy rather than in science fiction to you, you have the author’s agreement. Eleven years after its first publication, in an introduction to the 1977 edition of Rocannon's World (reproduced in The Language of the Night, the author writes, "...of course fantasy and science fiction are different, just as red and blue ; different; they have different frequencies; if you mix them (on paper—I work on paper) you get purple, something else again. Rocannon's World is definitely purple." ( )
  MaowangVater | Jul 1, 2015 |
Read "Planet of Exile" and "City of Illusions" as I'd read "Rocannon's World" earlier - not outstanding works, but interesting. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Nov 18, 2014 |
Easy to read sci-fi, more about people than technology. Ursula Le Guin's writing is as lovely as always. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Le Guin, Ursula K.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Colucci, AlejandroCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoye, StephenReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karr, AmandaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winter, R. S.Cover Artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is gratefully dedicated to the memory of Cele Lalli, Don Wollheim, and Terry Curr.
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How can you tell the legend from the fact on these worlds that lie so many years away? - planets without names, called by their people simply The World, planets without history, where the past is a matter of myth, and a returning explorer finds his own doings of a few years back have become the gestures of a god.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312862113, Paperback)

Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the greatest science fiction writers and many times the winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards. her career as a novelist was launched by the three novels contained in Worlds of Exile and Illusion. These novels, Rocannon's world, Planet of Exile, and City of Illusions, are set in the same universe as Le Guin's groundbreaking classic, The Left hand of Darkness.

Tor is pleased to return these previously unavailable works to print in this attractive new edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:23 -0400)

The author's first three novels--City of Illusions, Rocannon's World, and Planet of Exile--are included in an omnibus edition, all set in the same universe as The Left Hand of Darkness, as her characters battle forces in society that seek to tear them apart.… (more)

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