Oh, yeah. I have this blog thingy.

On my refrigerator are three “apologies” I’ve collected over the years:

Up top: from an old cartoon in The New Yorker.

Middle: from Tina Fey’s series, Great News.

Below: I can’t remember the source, so I’ll just say “author unknown to me”.

All three fit the mood I’ve been in the past few months. Don’t worry. All is fine. I’ve just had a major case of the “Don’t Wants,” but I think I’ve recovered. Nearly there, as they say.

I have nothing new to report. I’m still reading, still thinking about my WIPs (currently, 5 different projects — if I get bored thinking about one, I switch to thinking about another), still toddling around NYC. With less wintry weather approaching, I’ll soon be cycling around, but still in NYC.

I promised Chris at Calmgrove that I’d take part in his year-long #LoveHain project, for which I’ve read two of Ursula K Le Guin’s books set in her Hain universe and have started a third. These have long been on my TBR list, so I’m grateful for this nudge from a blogging buddy.

Rocannon’s World (1966), Le Guin’s first published novel, introduces us to the Hainish Ecumen, an interplanetary governing body spread across the galaxy, where a diplomatic career entails separation from those you know and love by decades rather than miles. Even if an SOS to your home planet can get there almost immediately, the quickest ship they could send would take years to reach you, so too late to save you — perhaps even too late to save the planet you’re on. The situation becomes especially dire for Rocannon, when the rest of his team is killed in an unexpected attack that also destroys his ship and all the equipment on it. Rocannon’s best hope is to make his way south, where there might be a transmitter that can instantly contact his home planet. South, though, takes him through dangerous territory.

The second novel, Planet of Exile (1966), is set on a different world within the Hainish Ecumen. Here, a “year” lasts 60 Terran years, each season thus lasting about 15 of our years. Three humanoid species inhabit this planet, one of which, a group of Hainish “ambassadors”, have settled here from off-world. Winter is coming, and one of the native groups have begun their pre-winter move to warmer lands, crossing through the land of the other two groups, and destroying everything in their path.

Le Guin uses the clashes between the various peoples of these worlds to explore the challenges for all in any situation of “conquest” — whether by other native populations or by off-planet explorers. Is there any ethical way to move into or through someone else’s territory? What level of “friendship” can be achieved by groups of people who have defined their lives in radically different ways? Is science more useful than folklore? What makes a civilization “advanced”?

I’m looking forward to following Le Guin’s progress in the other Hainish novels and short stories. While these first two are not as strong as the Earthsea books, her writing is still thoughtful and beautiful, with moments of wonder and terror that stand out. City of Illusions (1967) is up next.

Meanwhile, I highly recommend Matthew Green’s Shadowlands: A Journey Through Britain’s Lost Cities and Vanished Villages (2022) and Alain de Botton’s How Proust Can Change Your Life (1997).

About Lizzie Ross

in no particular order: author, teacher, cyclist, world traveler, single parent. oh, and i read. a lot.
This entry was posted in #LoveHain, Am reading, Science fiction and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Oh, yeah. I have this blog thingy.

  1. Glad you found these. I’ve managed to finally track down two titles Rocannon, and The Dispossessed while I had Left Hand of Darkness which I’ve read before

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oops, I pressed send instead of enter. I also meant to add that the question of the impacts of any interaction with other spaces is certainly a relevant one, and one which parallelly was given little thought to even on earth.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Lizzie Ross says:

      I hope you can locate the others, Mallika. Fortunately, I already have the 2-volume Library of America edition of the novels and stories. I only needed to move them from bookcase to bedside table. The challenge now is not to read ahead. 😉


  2. Calmgrove says:

    I too have started City of Illusions, Lizzie, though true to form I’m also reading several other titles, shifting from one to another as the mood takes me. Glad you’ve decided to join in the read/reread of the Hainish titles, always good to know there are other Le Guin fans out there!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ola G says:

    I do like those notes on your fridge!
    Haven’t read Rocannon yet, though I did read a bunch of Le Guin’s later Hainish stuff… I guess it’s time to read some more! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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