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The Telling (Hainish Cycle #8)

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  3,108 ratings  ·  242 reviews
From award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin comes a highly anticipated addition to her acclaimed Hainish cycle, “a social anthropology of the future, fascinating and utterly believable.” (Peter S. Beagle)

Once a culturally rich world, the planet Aka has been utterly transformed by technology. Records of the past have been destroyed, and citizens are strictly monitored. But
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Paperback, 246 pages
Published October 1st 2001 by Ace Trade (first published January 1st 2000)
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Lyn
Ursula K. LeGuin returns to her Hainsih cycle in The Telling but begins on dear old Terra.

First published in 2000, The Telling has as LeGuin’s outside-looking-in observer / narrator the Ekumen trained Sutty. In LeGuin’s Hainish universe, the Ekumen is an alliance of like-minded worlds who seek to re-unite humanity form the galaxy wide and eons old diaspora of the original Hain colonizers.

LeGuin first wrote about the Hain as the original source of humanity. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, pe
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Clouds

Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and became
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Ian
I'm going to use an arguably banal and trite metaphor here: that of a love affair. Okay, maybe not so arguable. It is a banal and trite metaphor. But that’s okay, I think, because the “relationship” many of us experience with our books and our authors is like a love affair, is it not? So forget that the metaphor is worn or hackneyed, because it’s apt, and it’s something to which many of you will relate, and it’s the best way I can think of to communicate how this book affected me.

To be more prec
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Danijel
Ovo je priča o svijetu koji je napustio, potisnuo i izbrisao cjelokupnu svoju povijest i kulturu kako bi se svojim novim korporativnim uređenjem što više priklonio naprednim hainskim rasama koje su otkrile njihov svijet i kako bi ubrzao njihov Put ka zvijezdama. Mlada Promatračica Sutty, također dijete nasilja kako je naziva njezin nadređeni, dobiva zadatak istražiti u zabačenom dijelu svijeta Ake, ostatke ostataka nekadašnjeg vjerovanja, kulture i književnosti. Za razliku od nekadašnjeg unistič ...more
Joel  Werley
“I know who you are," she said. "You're my enemy. The true believer. The righteous man with the righteous mission. The one that jails people for reading and burns the books. That persecutes people who do exercises the wrong way. That dumps out the medicine and pisses on it. That pushes the button that sends the drones to drop the bombs. And hides behind a bunker and doesn't get hurt. Shielded by God. Or the state. Or whatever lie he uses to hide his envy and self-interest and cowardice and lust ...more
Sierra
The Telling is situated in Ursula Le Guin's ingeniously imagined Hainish universe. Six novels and several short stories have previously chronicled the Hainish experience through the worlds they have touched The stories take place several hundred years into Earth's future, where we learn that humanity is the result of Hanish colonization of the habitable worlds in the universe. Le Guin gives each of the numerous Hain worlds, includingbEarth, a distinct society, ensuring herself of a plethora of c ...more
Brigs
I've never wanted to review a book here before but for some reason this one makes me want to.

I should start by saying this is the only Ursula K. Le Guin novel I've read so I can't compare it to any others but I really really liked this novel. I bought it on a whim because it had a queer woman of colour as the main character and so many of the books I read about white straight men and I thought this would be a change. Which it definitely was. I thought the treatment of Sutty's relationships throu
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Emily
Sutty is a Terran envoy of the Ekumen to the world of Aka. The Aka have suppressed and criminalized their ancient “religion” (it isn’t, but that’s the most expedient way to describe it. Think Buddhist.) in order to become Consumer-Producers of the Corporation State and bring their technology up to date with that of Earth and Hain. Sutty’s mission is to learn and preserve The Telling, which is made difficult by the Monitors of the Corporation State (thought police).
I feel like LeGuin conceived of
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Danni Green
I've struggled through a few other of LeGuin's books and was debating whether I wanted to try to read any more of them. A friend of mine who is really into LeGuin recommended that I read this one, telling me that if I liked this one then I would probably like other books of hers, and that if I didn't, I should give it up. Well, my friend is very wise, and I liked this book a lot. The story has many layers, and each layer shone through with a richness that made it a very enjoyable read, emotional ...more
Brooke
Old blogging:

Ursula K. LeGuin never fails to amaze me with her writing and story-telling abilities. The back cover of the book said that it was a continuation of the Hainish cycle...which includes the Dispossessed (I gathered). However, either it has been too long since I read The Dispossessed to make the connection, or it is a very loose connection. The Telling wove an absorbing story of an Indo-Canadian woman in futuristic America/Canada during a time when the government has been overtaken by
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Catherine
A nicely narrated book with beautiful, memorable language and a fascinating protagonist, this tale suffers from having almost no action and very little plot. It isn't a long book but often felt like it was one. But for the central character and her opponent, it often felt as though the people populating it were replicants, too. I.e. if you like characters who resonate this isn't the novel for you. Two stars off for the s l o o o w pace and mostly flat characters.
Lex Larson
The interconnectedness of culture and language is an irresistible theme for me. Layered systems of meaning, political and philosophical intrigue with a competent female protagonist sealed the deal. Rich characters in a lushly imagined world. Intellectual without being aloof, emotional without being cloying. I was sad to see Sutty's story conclude.

I also appreciated this story didn't require me to read the previous books in the series.
Kerry
This was a nice little thing. I guess it's set in the same universe/reality as The Dispossessed, which I read last year and which was my first Le Guin (this is my second.)

There isn't a whole lot of plot here; and (view spoiler) Basically it seems to be Le
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wychwood
Not my favourite Le Guin, nor even close - I tried to re-read this a few months back and couldn't get into it at all. I picked it up again, though, and enjoyed it a lot more the second time around. Nothing especially memorable, but... I do like Okzat-Ozkat, and Sutty's ambivalence around her own history, and the complexity of Dovsan society under the surface.
Renee Babcock
A prescient novel written in 2000, before things like 9/11 and much of what evangelicals have been doing in our culture. It's very much a relevant book today, almost feels as if it could have been written just in the last few years. It's set in LeGuin's Hainish universe and is about the dangers of fantaticism on a culture, esp as seen through the eyes of Sutty, the envoy to Aka. Sutty has escaped the dangers of fanaticism on earth and expects to find a freer, more repaxed society on Aka, or to d ...more
Amber Dunten
I have to confess first that I didn't finish The Telling. I quit about halfway through after struggling with what, to me, was an excruciatingly boring story that's barely a story at all, but really seems to be simply a vehicle for conveying ideas, and perhaps a moral message, about the preservation of culture and history. It's interesting to me that I read this book shortly after reading (and hating) A Canticle For Leibowitz because they seem so similar and yet opposite. Let's compare:

In A Cant
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Michael Gray
Reading this excellent novel by Ursula LeGuin highlights a question about literary form. Why does the form of science fiction include so many profound explorations of what it means to be human, of what is fragile and at risk in the world in which we live, while raising our awareness of what is most worth preserving. Well, perhaps there are not that many profound works, but Ursula Leguin, as well as Stanislaw Lem and Philip Dick, come quickly to mind as writers who shine a light on the human expe ...more
Mark
For a book written so recent in her career, "The Telling" captures none of the endearing qualities of Ursula Le Guin's earlier work. I have for a long time appreciated and recommended to others her stellar novels "The Dispossessed" and "The Left Hand of Darkness," largely due to the self-reflective attitude they evoke after completion. Both are the kind of titles that force a careful evaluation of one's prejudices and at the least demand critical consideration.

"The Telling" is the unfortunate ex
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Ed Holden
I wanted to like this book more, and am just on the cusp of a four star review, but there were some issues that made it less enjoyable than it should have been, and certainly less so than The Left Hand of Darkness, the classic Hainish Cycle novel that is most conceptually akin to this one.

My first gripe is that the opening of The Telling is a little confusing: I thought for a while that the novel takes place on an Earth that's gone horribly statist/fascist because there are a few scenes that are
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Steven
This is the most recent of LeGuin's novels in the Hainish Cycle (I think), and it seems the most closely tied to our recent history here on earth. It involves a Terran, from the near future, working as an Ekumen observer on a planet, Aka, that was first visited by outsiders only 70-something years earlier. Aka has advanced rapidly since then, but it has recently radically restructured it's social and political systems into a rigid, consumption-based society -- or it's trying to, anyway.

Sutty, t
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J.M.
Another awesome book by LeGuin. The main character, Sutty, is a lesbian from Earth visiting the planet Aka as an Observer. Her mission is to interact with a peaceful culture based on something known as the Telling. Unfortunately, in the time it took her to travel to Aka, the Telling has been banned and replaced by something akin to communism, which Sutty dealt with on Earth in the form of a fundamentalist religion called Unism.

In an effort to save the Aka's cultural heritage, Sutty journeys into
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
When I first started listening to The Telling, I didn't realize it was in the same universe as The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness, in fact I didn't know those two books were related either. So this story takes place in a loosely related world, but on a new planet. Sutty has been sent to collect the printed historical record, but arrives to discover most of it has been destroyed. Her own life on Terra was destroyed when her lover was killed by drones, and being sent to Aka may or may ...more
Tatiana
I just reread this book, and I'm not sure what I think about it. I loved the story, and cried at the end, not because it was so sad, because it was a pretty happy ending, but I just felt so much for all the people in the story.

Overall it seemed to be an example of what it was about, and maybe it's what UKL is about, telling stories, the right stories. It was about an Ekumen observer's discovery of a culture that was all about The Telling. One character summed it up by saying that animals know w
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Deb
I picked this up at library sale in Vermont. I didn't read it as a straight novel, exactly, but as an anthropologist looking at how Le Guin blended elements of different societies and various anthropological concerns. The Observers seem basically to be ethnographers, in a semi-colonial situation, in that they come from a technologically dominant interstellar organization and have some pull with the local government, as they attempt to understand the traditional culture, or what is left of it aft ...more
Trish Perkins
I am never disappointed with an Ursula K. Le Guin book and this is no exception. It's a world where no departure from the accepted way of thinking is permitted, religion is outlawed. But an off-world observer is sent out into the "primitive" part of the world and discovers the way people manage despite the mind-control from the central government. This is where we get when the government outlaws scientific comment on the environment and only allows the corporations to weigh in.
Danielle
When I was at the library this weekend, I was actually looking for The Dispossessed to read, but this was the only one on the shelf by Le Guin that wasn't part of the Earthsea series. I didn't know anything about it, had never heard of it, but figured that I liked The Left Hand of Darkness well enough, I'll probably like this. I'm really glad that I picked this book up!

The book started off kind of slowly, with a bit too much explaining. But I think once Sutty reached Okzat-Ozkat, the book reall
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B.
(I chose to compare this book to a nonfiction work for my review.)

The alien civilization in Ursula K Le Guin’s The Telling is deeply evocative of post-Cultural Revolution China. A few months ago I read the non-fiction book Song & Silence: Ethnic Revival On China’s Southwest Borders by Sara L. M. Davis. The parallels in description between parts of the two works were at times so strong that I felt Le Guin also must have read Song & Silence. (The Telling was published in 2000. Song & S
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Qi
This story is about story-telling, or the collective memory of a culture through oral (telling) and written forms. In a dystopia of uniformity (present day Aka), we are pondering what is the cost of wiping one's own messy history clean and simply import another one. It is the technological/scientific cultists world imaged by Ray Bradbury and Huxley. Is the cost simply the cultural "treasures"? Can one preserve them like fossils in a curio? No, emphatically so, the treasure can only be alive thro ...more
Linda
This was not quite a 4 star read. If I had more options, it would be a 3.5 star read.

The story is told through the eyes of Sutty, who is a linguist/historian for the Ekuman, who study and record the histories of the planets that contain societies. Sutty has been assigned to Aka, a planet that is trying to replicate the technology of Terra (Earth) and become engaged in commerce among the worlds. In training, Sutty learned the language but little else about the planet, because the files of the fir
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Just A. Bean
I should read more Le Guin, if for no other reason than her prose is so gorgeous. This is a short novel, and even for that given how little plot there is it seemed as though it could have been shorter; however, I couldn't bring myself to mind as the writing was just such a pleasure to listen to. It's more a meditation than a story, or a poem. There's a lot of actual poetry in this book.

I was kind of expecting there to be more or a twist or downside to the happy Buddhist people, but on the other
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Does the midbook infodump ever end? 6 20 Feb 16, 2013 08:37PM  
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As of 2013, Ursula K. Le Guin has published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia, an essay collection, Cheek by Jowl, and The Wild Girls. Forthcoming ...more
More about Ursula K. Le Guin...

Other Books in the Series

Hainish Cycle (10 books)
  • Rocannon's World (Hainish Cycle #1)
  • Planet of Exile (Hainish Cycle #2)
  • City of Illusions
  • The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle, #4)
  • The Dispossessed (Hainish Cycle, #5)
  • The Word for World is Forest (Hainish Cycle #6)
  • Four Ways to Forgiveness (Hainish Cycle #7)
  • The Birthday of the World and Other Stories
  • A Fisherman of the Inland Sea
A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1) The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle, #2) The Farthest Shore (Earthsea Cycle, #3) The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle, #4) The Dispossessed (Hainish Cycle, #5)

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