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Worlds of Exile and Illusion by Ursula K. Le…

Worlds of Exile and Illusion (1996)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

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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 |
Three early novels of the Hainish Cycle collected in one volume.

The science fiction novels of Ursula K. Le Guin, often collectively called the "Hainish Cycle," are not intended to be a series in the conventional sense. They are meant to stand alone and be read that way. But collecting three of her earliest novels into one volume gives the reader the opportunity to read these as a series, revealing connecting themes and making for a very satisfying way to experience Le Guin's futuristic universe. The stories in themselves are ripping adventures, as well, with two quest tales bracketing a story of war.

The three novels take place thousands of years apart, at pivotal points in the conquest of a galactic empire called the League of All Worlds, which includes Earth, by aliens from a distant galaxy. Each novel also sows the seeds for the future evolution of humanity, which will enable them to defeat their conquerors and establish a new galactic alliance.

***There are some slight spoilers ahead.***

In the first novel, Rocannon's World, a ship from the League of All Worlds is visiting a planet where several intelligent species have been found. The humans are studying the aliens for possible inclusion in the League. One of them is Rocannon, who is staying at the home of one of the natives when his ship and all his shipmates are destroyed by an unknown enemy. Rocannon deduces that this is the Enemy that has been foretold, alien conquerors from a distant galaxy, against which the League has been formed to resist. On his ship was a device called an "ansible," that enabled communication at faster-than-light speeds, with which he could have warned his home planet. He figures that the enemy aliens also has an ansible, and sets out with a few companions, riding big flying cats, on a quest to reach their base in the south of the planet and send the warning so that the secret base may be destroyed. It is a hazardous journey, and along the way, Rocannon encounters natives with telepathic ability, which is called "mindspeak," and which he begins to learn.

The second novel, Planet of Exile, is set thousands of years later on another planet called Werel, which has been colonized by humans from the League planets. They have lost all contact with their home planets and have been stranded on Werel for generations. They have built a walled city on the seaside and holed up there, keeping themselves apart from the intelligent natives, who think they are witches because they can mindspeak and possess technology. Gradually, their numbers have been dwindling, due to the alienness of the planet where they have settled; they are being rejected as a foreign body.

Werel has a very long orbit around its sun, which makes each season last for a lifetime. A person born in fall may never know spring. As Planet of Exile opens, winter is near, and a great wave of people are emigrating south, destroying everything in their path. The colonists join with the nearby natives to resist them. At the same time, the colonists discover that they are adapting to their new environment after all, which means that humanity won't die out on Werel.

The third novel, City of Illusions, was my favorite of the three, although all of them are terrific reads. City of Illusions is set on a future Earth, a thousand years after the time of Planet of Exile. A man wakens in the forest with no memory of who he is or where he came from. He only knows that he looks different from the people who discover him. Gradually, he learns that the few remaining people of Earth live under the rule of a conquering enemy called the Shing; both the people and the Shing practice telepathy. The man sets out on a quest to reach the capital city of the Shing and find out who he is. What he discovers about himself sows the seeds for an eventual rebellion against the conquering aliens. This novel was so compelling and exciting that I really wanted there to be a sequel.

There is not one, really, although the next novel to take place chronologically is Le Guin's most famous science fiction novel, The Left Hand of Darkness. But that is set on another planet and after another thousand years or so has passed. Interestingly, her other most famous sci-fi work, The Dispossessed, takes place before Rocannon's World does, just before the ansible is invented, although she wrote and published it much later.

Le Guin's imagined worlds are a fantastic blend of advanced technology and high fantasy, combining faster-than-light space travel, magical powers in the form of telepathy and incredible beasts like the flying cats of Rocannon's World. Her worlds and her people are richly imagined and wonderfully detailed, and her writing is pitch-perfect: fast moving but still philosophical when it needs to be. I have never disliked one of her novels, and the three collected in this volume are no exception to that rule. ( )
2 vote sturlington | Jan 11, 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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