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Changing Planes

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  4,249 ratings  ·  457 reviews
Sita Dulip has missed her flight. But instead of listening to garbled announcements in the airport, she has found a method of bypassing the crowds at the desks, the long lines at the toilets, the nasty lunch, the whimpering children and punitive parents, the bookless bookstores, and the blue plastic chairs bolted to the floor.

This method - changing planes - enables Sita to
Mass Market Paperback, 239 pages
Published August 1st 2005 by Ace (first published July 2003)
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Changing Planes is a delightful book. It delights me.

This anthropological tour through some of the stranger societies in the multiverse begins by explaining its basic premise: Airports are not only portals to other terrestrial cities, but also to other dimensions. Interplanar travel requires no machine or vehicle, no magical incantations or special knowledge. The remarkably simple method was developed by one Sita Dulip, who discovered it when her flight out of Chicago was delayed several times
The Basics: I’ve loved LeGuin’s writing ever since my father introduced me to the Wizard of Earthsea trilogy when I was a child. I even named one of my dogs after the main character in that trilogy (though, as my father was fond of pointing out, the dog was no wizard). I’ve yet to read a story of hers that I really disliked; some are, of course, better than others, but I love ‘em all.

Changing Planes is a collection of sixteen short stories grouped around a single conceit; in a world very much
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of stories/vignettes connected by an amusing premise: while caught in the unique state of boredom experienced only by the traveller stuck with a layover at an airport, a person can quite literally "change planes" and visit other realms of existence.
(One gets the feeling that LeGuin doesn't like modern travel much - and indeed, on her website it says that the author is currently taking a sabbatical from any kind of book tours or speaking engagements.)
Each section describes, from the
This collection of short stories are all linked by a single idea: when we’re waiting in an airport, we can just slip away to another dimension, or ‘plane’. If you haven’t heard of this phenomenon, I do recommend Ursula Le Guin’s travel memoir — a little out of date now, perhaps, but certainly a good introduction to some of the planes that are out there. Her choice of stories might seem pointed at times — there’s an inherent criticism of all things commercialised in her discussions of the Holiday ...more
Robert Case
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Having enjoyed so many of her earlier works as a younger reader, I decided to read something more current by this author after hearing of her death. I thoroughly enjoyed "Changing Planes" and am grateful to have renewed my acquaintance with her work. Each chapter offers a story of life and love on different extraterrestrial planes. Each one offers a reflection, through the looking glass, into our own culture. It is quintessential Ursula Le Guin.
I read all stories except The fliers of Gy because I just couldn't do it. I was thoroughly bored by this time. I appreciate Guin's creativity, imagination and writing but I believe this genre isn't for me.
Changing Planes begins with a tale about how Sita Dulip discovered a method of transporting oneself to another plane of reality, whilst waiting for her delayed flight at the airport. There then follows a series of short stories about one person's trips and experiences to these alternate planes.

My favourites among these were:

Seasons of the Ansarac: About a semi nomadic race, who live on a world where there are four seasons, but each season lasts for 6 years. And still their way of life is set by
I read this on the actual airplane to Worldcon last week. Would have liked to change planes rather than changing planes. It's an odd sort of linked collection, with each piece more of a travelogue than a story with a proper arc. Instead, Le Guin builds new worlds seemingly without effort, giving five pages to ideas that other writers might spend entire novels on, for fear of never having as good an idea again. There's a first person protagonist who is only ever described in relationship to the ...more
Oct 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
An amusing set of shorts based on the conceit of being able to change planes in airports...planes of existence that is. Many of these are more by way of reports on the cultures of strange and alien lands and peoples than conventional narratives, but the doses of amusing satire prevent them becoming dull, and this sort of thing plays to Le Guin's strengths, what with her family background in anthropology and all.
Mar 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, sci-fi
If you're uncomfortably waiting in an airport, you can change planes--by which the narrator means, travel to a parallel dimension. This is basically an excuse to describe all sorts of alien societies, some very similar to ours, some very very different. It takes a lot of confidence to write a book like this, with no plot and practically no characters, but Le Guin never falters. She just blithely writes chapter after chapter, every page unapologetic and imaginative.

I thought the societies were
Dec 02, 2019 rated it did not like it


I first read Le Guin earlier on this year and I was quite impressed by her outlook and insights into the many subjects she covered in her collection of short essays and musings, and so I was pretty excited to pick this up and try out her fiction.

The first thing to notice about this is that the art work by Eric Beddows is excellent. In fact it is the only positive thing I could say about this book. I absolutely hated this book, the strange thing is there was a
Sep 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to eva by: Xene
le guin is one of my favorite authors, but i have a tendency to buy her books and then stick them on my shelf and forget which ones i've read. finally i decided to do things right and read them all, in chronological order by publication date (except the ones that...i don't want to). i started the project by immediately breaking the rules and picking up this 2004 book of short stories that a friend of mine recommended: since i was about to embark on a 12-hour flight to bali, it seemed like an ...more
This is an interesting book. It's more a collection of short stories with a common theme, and it's fantasy/sci-fi masquerading as a travel book. It's interesting for that, and interesting for Le Guin's writing. Her political/social commentary is obvious, particularly in "Porridge on Islac", but it's also touching. "My daughter lives in the North Sea. On raw fish. She's very beautiful. Dark and silky and beautiful. But -- I had to take her to the sea-coast when she was two years old. I had to put ...more
Mar 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
I scanned, rather than read, because the beginning wasn't too promising. The rest is mildly interesting, but not as engaging as her earlier works. Also, the essay having to do with genetic engineering is only fiction, I realize, but I found it simply silly science fiction that seems to come from an uninformed perspective on the subject. It creates a rather alarmist look at the topic.
Peter Tillman
Not UKL at the very top of her form, but second-rank Le Guin is better than many author's best. And there ain't gonna be no more....

Love the cover art on the newest edition! And the one I read is very good, too. As is the conceit of changing planes of existence while stuck on a layover at the airport. Recommended for her fans, and I don't remember why I gave it "only" 3 stars.....
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
I will now proceed to review this book with one of its own quotes:

"My memory of it was like all my childhood memories, immediate, broken, vivid-bits of bright particularity in a vast drift of oblivion." pg. 209
Kat  Hooper
Oct 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Airports are horrible places — the boring waits, the noisy rush, the germy stale air, the ugly utilitarian décor, the nasty food. That is, until Sita Dulip, while waiting for her delayed flight from Chicago to Denver and noticing that “the airport offers nothing to any human being except access to the interval between planes,” developed a technique to change planes inside the airport. She discovered that in the airport the traveler is uncomfortable,
Kristen Whitaker
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
For the first few chapters, Changing Planes feels like a book uncharacteristic to Le Guin. I've read her entire Earthsea cycle and a couple of her science fiction books, and I've never seen her be so blatantly ... humorous and even contemporary. This feeling is shaken a few more chapters in, when her writing reverts to its usual style of nature and cultural examination---the kind of prose that connects everything in the world to everything else and favors simple, albeit sometimes unpleasant, ...more
These stories start out in an airport, so based on the title it initially seems the stories will be about literally changing planes, like flights. We quickly find out, however, that these are planes of existence - during the humdrum of waiting in airports it's been discovered how one can change planes of existence, be transported to other worlds... very astral projection meets Gulliver's Travels.

Each story is the story of a different plane, the different inhabitants, the different
John Defrog
Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a short story collection with a unified theme woven around the concept that airports are generally terrible, and that if you are sufficiently exhausted, bored and full of bad airport food – and if you know the right technique – you can literally leave this plane of existence and visit thousands of other planes as a tourist, spending weeks traveling to different planes while perhaps just minutes pass by in the airport. Each chapter covers a different world with a different civilization ...more
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gifted. That is my one word description of Ursula Le Guin and I lament that we have lost her. My favorite quote of hers is that love "must be constantly remade, like a loaf of bread".

She can imagine different people like no other and bring them to life, make you care about them and what happens to them. How they are seen and treated.

Ultimately this all reflects on us and how we treat other humans, of course. She can share a dazzling and riveting story on an alien world, thoroughly enthralling
Mar 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: denizens of the World Without Shrimp
This is a collection of sketches of alternate universe worlds that LeGuin uses to say some fascinating things about the nature of... not humans necessarily, but beings. Each world is related to our own, but the people or the lifestyle differ in ways that make for some fascinating commentary on our own reality. What if we lived in a world without language? What if we shared our dreams with our neighbors every night? Each story has a different character and some are more whimsical than poignant, ...more
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Like Invisible Cities but with stories instead of poems and Le Guin instead of Calvino
Tori Hanus
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever feel uncomfortable in an airport? The long lines, the invasive security and unpleasant customs agents, the overpriced airport food, bad elevator music playing non-stop. Imagine is the discomfort of forced occupation of an airport while waiting for a flight can, in fact, cause one to change from one "plane" of reality to another. And thanks to the different flow of time in other planes, one can spend a week visiting another plane and return in time to make a connecting flight.
Each chapter
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
First heard "The Fliers of Gy" read by LeVar Burton when he came to Portland, OR on his reading tour. After hearing that, I had to find the rest of the "Plane" stories by LeGuin. Each one is engaging but for different reasons, depending on the story. Some are funny, others are terribly sad, and some even made me cringe on behalf of humanity. Every story holds up a mirror to humans, allowing us to see different aspects of ourselves--great and terrible alike--and forces the reader to wonder, ...more
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
I might just say that this writing style is not my type. The book was written in a very eccentric fashion and I know it was intended to be funny. I was not amused and very bored. Humor too simple for an adult and words too complex for a child. Some people enjoy this type of thing but I did not.
Matthew Galloway
This is definitely one of my favorite audiobooks. The narrator has just such a conversational tone that is utterly pleasing and completely pulls you into a world where these discussions could be happening. Each world and culture is just so fascinating and so compelling... Part of me wants to hear more about each one, and yet the amount we are given is the perfect amount as well.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
Ugh. The whole premise is based on a pun—waiting for a connecting flight (your PLANE) in airports, people learn the skill of traveling to other PLANES of existence. I groaned out loud when this was revealed in the first few pages and gritted my teeth. I only made it to page 15. Feels like LeGuin got this published based on reputation alone...
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Ursula K. Le Guin 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. She lived in Portland, ...more
“The airport bookstore did not sell books, only bestsellers, which Sita Dulip cannot read without risking a severe systemic reaction.” 19 likes
“Whatever language we speak, before we begin a sentence we have an almost infinite choice of words to use. A, The, They, Whereas, Having, Then, To, Bison, Ignorant, Since, Winnemucca, In, It, As . . . Any word of the immense vocabulary of English may begin an English sentence. As we speak or write the sentence, each word influences the choice of the next ― its syntactical function as noun, verb, adjective, etc., its person and number if a pronoun, its tense and number as a verb, etc. ,etc. And as the sentence goes on, the choices narrow, until the last word may very likely be the only one we can use.” 11 likes
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