The Word for World Is Forest (Hainish Cycle #2)
The award-winning masterpiece by one of today's most honored writers
The Word for World is Forest
When the inhabitants of a peaceful world are conquered by the bloodthirsty yumens, their existence is irrevocably altered. Forced into servitude, the Athsheans find themselves at the mercy of their brutal masters.
Desperation causes the Athsheans, led by Selver, to retaliate a...more
"Maybe after I die people will be as they were before I was born, and before you came. But I do not think they will."In every book by Le Guin there is that special something for me, something that grabs a firm hold of my mind and heart and stubbornly hangs on, refusing to let go, burrowing deeply, growing roots, sprouting shoots that will go on to quietly, unobtrusively, almost imperceptibly change my mental landscape forever - by making me really think, by challenging established ideas, preco ...more
So muses author Ursula K. LeGuin in her 1972 novel The Word for World is Forest. The winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for best novella, LeGuin’s mastery of the language and the genre are in full display as well as her remarkable imaginative powers.
Revisiting her “Hainish” cycle of works (not a series of books but rather a group of stand alone works with a thematic central core – somewhat simi ...more
A group of evil and greedy Terrans is in a process of colonizing a new planet - Athshe. What it means, as you can guess, is that Terrans destroy Athshe's ecosystem by cutting down the planet's forests and sending wood to their mother planet Earth (which by this time is nothing but a barren desert) and enslave and abuse the nat ...more
Like most of Ms. Le Guin's works this is a thought provoking story. What happen when we introduce evil into a hitherto innocent and passive culture? The Athsheans are very vivid creations, the story of their enslavement and e ...more
(Though I'll admit the visuals are gorgeous)
Le Guin did it first, and did it better. The Word for World is Forest is heartwrenchingly beautiful, all the more for its continued relevence nearly half a century since first publication.
Her introduction to this edition is also exquisite, and discusses not only the need and reasoning behind the writing of this story, but also the need for the creation of any such story.
"The pursuit of art, by ar...more
Return of the Anthropologist*
67 EXT. FOREST CLEARING – TOWN OF ENDTOR - LJUBOV'S CRASH SITE 67
A strange little green furry face with huge black eyes comes slowly into view. The creature is an ATHSHEAN, by the name of SELVER. He seems somewhat puzzled, and prods LJUBOV with the butt end of a spear. The anthropologist groans; this frightens the stubby ball of green fuzz and SELVER prods him again. LJUBOV sits up and stares at the three-foot-high Athshean. He tries to figure ...more
The different perspectives given in this story are so contrary and the light it sheds so illuminating. The conflict is unavoidable and the reactions are sometimes so misguided but always completely believable.
One of the thin ...more
I've only read two other titles by Le Guin, but I wish I had started here first. Le Guin's work is dense and requires some work on the part of the reader, but this book (actually just a novella) is far more accessible and serves as a great introduction to themes and concepts used in her ...more
EDIT: So this book had a really strong effect on me and I feel that it deserves five stars for that alone. Emotionally I really struggled with this story and found it quite devastating. I also found it terribly realistic and totally heartbreaking. Yes, there's a part of me that wishes I had never read it but I also think it was really well done and abs ...more
It doesn't help that the Athsheans embody just about every romanticized stereotype of the native primitive. Like the most Disneyfied take on ...more
Le Guin’s little parable was a pleasant surprise. She is a fine writer, especially when she is describing scenery. Her prose is not workmanlike, but generally well crafted. I also found it pleasant that she switched her narrator’s perspec ...more
The novel is part of Le Guin’s famous HAINISH CYCLE (see also, among others, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed) but can be read completely separately, although being familiar with the larger story will give you a better understanding of the broader context ...more
It's a moralistic story, and it had some insightful things to say about dangerous ideas entering the public consciousness. Basically, there is no going back. Here, specifically in relation to the concept of murder.
I enjoyed the waking dre ...more
I've long been a fan of her work but haven't read any of her books for a while and so took a long time coming to this. Pretty much knowing the plot in advance I was worried that it would be overly didactic. Indeed, the author's own introduction warned me that this would be the case. So well armed with this expectation I gritted my teeth and got stuck in and consequently di ...more
This is a novella about the devastation a human colony wreaks on a forested world and its inhabitants, and how the inhabitants must fight back despite their habitual peacefulness -- written by a U.S. author during the U.S.'s participation in the Vietnam War.
... You see why it might be heavy-handed.
The story is told from three alternating perspectives. We open with Captain Davidson, a macho human-chauvinist, the author of many outr ...more
Much of the book's descriptive attitude parallels James C Scott's notions of legibility and metis in SEEING LIKE A STATE. Anthropology is the common ancestor, of course, but I wonder about the proper genealogy of these ideas.
It has the now-classic plot of Big Bad Colonialist American-Types cutting down trees and persecuting the peace-loving natives *cough*Avatar*cough*Fern Gully*cough*. For all that it's an actually nuanced and compelling story.
Unfortunately to get to the compelling nuances, you have to get through the first thirty pages, which are narrated by the over-the-top imperialist misogynist patriot ...more
Being little more than 100 pages (and that includes a three-page Introduction by Ken MacLeod and a six page Introduction by the author herself) it was the winner of the Hugo Award in 1973 for Best Novella.
Despite its brevity, it is a masterclass in the case of the adage that sometimes ‘less is more’. Like Fritz Leiber’s equally brief Award-winning novella The Big Time (won in 1958 and re ...more
LeGuin has said that “The Word for World Is Forest” was greatly influenced by the Vietnam War (the novella upon which it is based came out in 1972; the book in 1976), bu ...more