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The Found and the Lost: The Collected Novellas of Ursula K. Le Guin

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Every novella by Ursula K. Le Guin, an icon in American literature, collected for the first time in one breathtaking volume.

Ursula K. Le Guin has won multiple prizes and accolades from the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to the Newbery Honor, the Nebula, Hugo, World Fantasy, and PEN/Malamud Awards. She has had her work collected over the years, but never as a complete retrospective of her longer works as represented in the wonderful The Found and the Lost.

"Vaster Than Empires And More Slow"
"Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight"
"Hernes" by Ursula K. Le Guin
"The Matter Of Seggri"
"Another Story Or A Fisherman Of The Inland Sea"
"Forgiveness Day"
"A Man Of The People"
"A Woman’s Liberation"
"Old Music And The Slave Women"
"The Finder"
"On The High Marsh"
"Paradises Lost"

This collection is a literary treasure chest that belongs in every home library.

816 pages, Hardcover

First published October 18, 2016

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About the author

Ursula K. Le Guin

938 books24.4k followers
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, Oregon.

She was known for her treatment of gender (The Left Hand of Darkness, The Matter of Seggri), political systems (The Telling, The Dispossessed) and difference/otherness in any other form. Her interest in non-Western philosophies was reflected in works such as "Solitude" and The Telling but even more interesting are her imagined societies, often mixing traits extracted from her profound knowledge of anthropology acquired from growing up with her father, the famous anthropologist, Alfred Kroeber. The Hainish Cycle reflects the anthropologist's experience of immersing themselves in new strange cultures since most of their main characters and narrators (Le Guin favoured the first-person narration) are envoys from a humanitarian organization, the Ekumen, sent to investigate or ally themselves with the people of a different world and learn their ways.

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5 stars
898 (58%)
4 stars
461 (29%)
3 stars
147 (9%)
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30 (1%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 208 reviews
Profile Image for Nataliya.
783 reviews12.5k followers
April 4, 2021
Ursula K. Le Guin can do no wrong.
And I'm honored to have the privilege to read her work.

This collection of her novellas is perfect.

The strange and the familiar, the paths chosen and the roads not taken, the homes found and paradises lost.

This is magic. Wonderful magic.
"She raised her arms up and outward, like wings, and looked down at her feet on the dirt. She pushed off her sandals, pushed them aside, and was barefoot. She stepped to the left, to the right, forward, back. She danced up to him holding her hands forward, palms down. He took them, and she pulled him up. He laughed; she did not quite smile. Swaying, she lifted her bare feet from the dirt and set them down again while he stood still, holding her hands. They danced together that way."

My review of my favorite novella from this collection, Paradises Lost, that originally appeared in The Birthday of the World and Other Stories collection, is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for Henk.
875 reviews
December 17, 2022
A brilliant bundle that showcase the writing of Le Guin, especially in science fiction. I loved diving into the many faceted worlds of her imagination
People are a risky business

This bundle took me quite some time to read but was very rewarding. Ursula K. Le Guin shows her storytelling genius equally well in short form as in her more known novels. I especially enjoyed the stories set within the far future Hainish cycle, but the more realistic work is very good as well.

Vaster than empires and more slow
4 stars

A new world is not all that it seems, and traversing the stars is just the first hurdle for the crew that discovers a planet full of plants and seemingly nothing more.
23-10-22: full review can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Buffalo girls, won’t you come out tonight?
3 stars

Buffalo Gals btw apparently were pioneer women in Alaska. This novella is a kind of reverse Jungle book, set in a prairie, with animals missing the Native Americans, with quite a heartbreaking ending
23-10-22: full review can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

5 stars

Native American women dying in troves due to smallpox, 1919 coughs that turn out to be Spanish flu, early 20th century women not wanting to marry, rape, anxiety on daughters marrying to wrong men, miscarriage, marriage troubles, women forced to give up careers to take on care tasks. This novella packs a lot and is a hommage to Virgina Woolf. My unexpected favourite from The Found and the Lost: The Collected Novellas of Ursula K. Le Guin.
23-10-22: full review can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

The Matter of Seggri
4 stars

An interesting thought experiment on what a society would look like that has a 16 to 1 gender imbalance. Through diary entries and the eyes of observers from the galactic community of the Eukemen, we see slow changes occur in society.
24-10-22: full review can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/upda...

Another story or a Fisherman of an inland sea
4 stars

A story that is the literary equivalent to Interstellar. Brilliantly oscillation between big science fiction and the personal, while capturing all the implications of time dilation
26-10-22: full review can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Forgiveness day
3 stars

A novella on PTSD, independence battles and revolution, slavery and love. I found the structure a little bit infodumping and slow in the middle, but fascinating in terms of themes addressed.
28-10-22: full review can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

A Man of the People
4 stars

From a world where traditions define everything, our main character becomes and envoy who takes a more active role on the planet he is send to supervis, while we learn a lot about the Ekumen
31-10-22: full review can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

A woman’s liberation
4 stars

A grim story on overcoming adversity and the power of reading as a catalyst to learn. Reminded me a lot of Earthseed, and again shows the brilliance of Le Guin
4-11-22: full review can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Old Music and the Slave women
4 stars

In a war everyone is a prisoner
5-11-22: Factionalism and weapons of mass destruction play a key role in this novella, with one of the characters saying: If you’re not with us, you are with them, full on Sith/George W. Bush style.
Old Music, one of the Ekumen, is drawn into a conflict between fractions that want to turn the galactic community to their truth. The story is grim, and the hostage situation creates existential doubts as well: What use was I, ever?
Factions will be the death of us feels prescient given current polarisation.

The Finder
3 stars

All the hope in the world is in the people of no account
6-11-22: This story is set in Earthsea. Similar to the stories of Grimm, using the true name of something gives power in this world. The setting is an eat-or-be-eaten world full of exploitation, slavery and sacrifice. The wizard school of Roke, where Ged later studies, is formed as a beacon for freedom but is immediately threatened. A wizard is formed, but also has to endure a lot in coming of age. I got strong The Silmarillion vibes of the way of telling the story.

One of the gifts of power is to know power

Tame him or bury him

You can know everything you like

Nobody can be free alone

On the high marsh
2.5 stars.

6-11-22: Cow illness and a stranger’s arrival coincide.
Archmage Ged makes a cameo, but overall this was not super impactful; I think in general I am just more a sci-fi than a fantasy type of person.

3 stars

A girl spirited away to Rouke, the island of the mages, exclusively dedicated to teaching men. Change versus order is a clear theme in this novella.
6-11-22: full review can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Paradises lost
4 stars

A surprisingly modern take on a space ark and the implications on humanity. The outcome is grim and realistic and would make for an excellent mini-series
13-11-22: full review can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,071 reviews2,634 followers
December 12, 2016
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2016/12/11/...

I’m deeply ashamed to admit this, but I had not actually read anything by Ursula K. Le Guin before picking up this anthology. From the moment I saw The Found and the Lost though, I knew it would be the perfect chance for me to rectify the situation. For the first time ever, every novella published by this renowned fantasy and science fiction icon can be found in one place, together at last in this gorgeous hardcover collection.

Here’s the full list of the stories, and what I thought of them:

Vaster than Empires and More Slow – A group of scientists journey to a distant planet on a mission of exploration and research, bringing along with them an empath whose role is to detect the presence of intelligent life once they arrive. However, his sensitivity to his co-workers’ emotions makes him an ornery crewmate to be around, causing much tension among the team. What a great opening story to grab the reader’s attention and kick off this anthology. It is intensely gripping and atmospheric. Fear plays a huge role in this story—fear of the unknown and of what we don’t understand. It’s a subject that carries through well, ultimately culminating into a somewhat abrupt but unexpectedly poignant ending.

Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight – Inspired by the magic of animals and their relationship with humans, this story tells of a young girl who becomes lost in the desert of the American Southwest. She is rescued by Coyote and brought to a community of animal characters who are effectively like people—a perspective I found both fascinating and a bit difficult to wrap my head around. Drawing heavily from Native American folklore, Le Guin creates a world that blends reality with mysticism, and the results are quite often surreal but also breathtakingly beautiful.

Hernes – “Hernes” is not among my favorites in this anthology, but it is nonetheless intriguing and thought provoking. Covering the lives of four generations of women, the story weaves together multiple tales of love, ambition, heartbreak, and self-discovery. It can be somewhat confusing at first to see how all the threads tie together, but I loved the author’s empathetic treatment of her characters’ struggles as well as her portrayal of the mother-daughter relationships by alluding to the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone.

A Matter of Seggri – Seggri is a world where the number of females is six times greater than the number of males. For the most part the two sexes live completely separate lives, with the women making their homes in medieval-style villages while the men dwell in castles. While this story pulls us back into science fiction territory, it also features the author’s none-too-subtle endeavor to explore the nature of gender roles. At first, it may seem that the men on Seggri have it all—they compete in sports games to entertain themselves, later basking in the adoration of the females who want them to sire their children. As it soon turns out, however, the situation is much more complicated. This story wasn’t among my favorites either, but there are certain elements that I think will hit hard emotionally.

Another Story or A Fisherman of the Inland Sea – Hideo grew up listening to his mother tell him the legend about the fisherman who was seduced by a sea-princess only to return home afterwards to discover that centuries have passed. When Hideo later on becomes a physicist, he has the opportunity to embark on a journey that involves faster-than-light travel, and thus the connections between the fairy tale and the main character’s own life are revealed. The concept of time dilation or time warping often provides interesting twists in these kinds of stories, and I suppose this one is no exception, though after reading it I couldn’t shake this feeling that something was missing. Later on, I discovered this was supposed to be a companion story to a couple others that were published in another anthology. While I enjoyed this one well enough, I wonder if I would have liked it more if I had gotten the context from the other stories.

Forgiveness Day – Speaking of interconnected stories, I believe these next three were all first published together in an anthology called Four Ways to Forgiveness. They have several themes in common, namely those that surround the subjects of slavery and freedom, suppression and liberation, order and rebellion. I loved “Forgiveness Day”, which tells of an envoy named Solly who travels to another world and is assigned a bodyguard named Teyeo. The two of them are water and oil from the start, though as the story progresses we are given an opportunity to see the situation from both points of view. I liked this one’s message about individual biases and how personal histories are shaped by experience. To sympathize with others we first must change our own way of thinking, and that starts with looking within ourselves.

A Man of the People – The narrator in this story spent his childhood growing up in the rural and sheltered community before heading out to discover all there is in the wider world. This is a tale featuring themes of freedom but also highlights the idea that we should never forget our pasts. I liked how much this one added to the discourse about the importance of empathy and involvement.

A Woman’s Liberation – This story has strong ties to the last, and really should be considered together. Both feature protagonists who have complicated histories and struggle with their individual identities, questioning who they are and what they want. I liked this one a little more, however, due to the voice of the main character—a woman who is born an “asset”, or a slave—as well as her point of view on the issues that were covered in these last three stories.

Old Music and the Slave Women – This one shines a spotlight on Old Music, a character who appeared briefly in one of the previous stories. Here he gets to tell his own tale about slavery, courage, and revolution. While it was nice being able to revisit this character again, truthfully it was hard to get into the narrative because of the slower pacing and muddled presentation of ideas.

The Finder – This one will probably hold more significance for fans of Earthsea since it takes place long ago in that world, chronicling the life of a young shipbuilder boy who manifests magical abilities. Like the other stories, the prose here is richly detailed and evocative, though my attention started waning as we drew closer to the end. It’s a shame because this story has a lot going for it, but it might have dragged on for a little too long.

On the High Marsh – Another tale from Earthsea, I had a hard time getting into this one as well because of a lack of connection I felt to the main character Ged (who I later learned was an Archmage of the Roke magic school, the origins of which were covered in “The Finder”). That said, I don’t often do well with side stories like this that focus on characters or events from the main books of a series.

Dragonfly – After struggling a little with the last few stories, “Dragonfly” was one that swept me off my feet. This third Earthsea story also appears tie into the main series; more specifically, I hear it’s sometimes been called a “postscript” to Tehanu, and again I wonder if I would have gotten even more out of it had I read the book first. I loved the eponymous main character, an earnest girl who is also a bit rough around the edges from being raised by an angry, alcoholic father. Through sheer persistence and courage though, she manages to gain entry into Roke, an all-male magic school. Overall, I really enjoyed this story’s themes, especially its message about the power of women’s magic and how a little determination can go a long way.

Paradises Lost – This one is about a generation ship and explores what it means for the people who are born and raised aboard during the long voyage. These are the generations descended from the original pilgrims, but it is their own descendants that will reach the final destination, not them. Le Guin speculates how this would affect the travelers both emotionally and spiritually, and the kind of society they might create. I love stories about generation ships and colonization, and this is perhaps one of the more philosophical ones I’ve read. There’s compassion and realism in it too as Le Guin gets right down to the issues that really matter to the people in that situation, and asks the questions that many other authors don’t address.

Concluding Thoughts:

For Le Guin fans, this anthology is a must. But for new readers too, there is a lot to love. It’s true that some of the stories are better than others, and there are even a few that, when taken out of their original context, might be a little confusing especially if you’re unfamiliar with the author’s different worlds and cycles, but overall it serves as a great introduction to her style and the themes she writes about.

More importantly, the stories in here are an excellent showcase of the author’s astounding talent and deepness of thought, proving why her work has remained so beloved throughout the decades. Reading this was an absolute gift.
Profile Image for Stuart.
722 reviews270 followers
February 12, 2017
The Found and the Lost: Masterful stories by one of the genre’s greats
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature

The Found and the Lost is the companion volume to The Unreal and the Real: The Selected Short Stories by Ursula K. Le Guin, a hefty 816-page book or 34-hour audiobook collection of Ursula K. Le Guin’s novellas. It contains most of the stories that make up Four Ways to Forgiveness (1995) a set of linked stories in her HAINISH CYCLE, about the two worlds of Werel and Yeowe, and explores the themes of slavery, oppression, revolution, and redemption.

It also contains several stories set in her EARTHSEA CYCLE from Tales from Earthsea (2001). One of my other favorites was “Vaster than Empires and More Slow,” about communications with alien intelligence somewhat reminiscent of Stanislaw Lem‘s Solaris (1970). “Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight” makes pointed social critiques of modern society from the viewpoint of Native American animal deities.

Overall the collection is excellent and provides a broad overview of her favorite themes, and should be a perfect way for fans to revisit her stories or for new readers to discover one of the greats of the genre. Here are reviews of my favorite stories, which got much longer than I planned because each story has so much worth mentioning.

Vaster than Empires and More Slow: This is one of my favorite early Le Guin stories set in the HAINISH universe. It tells the tale of a scientific expedition sent to explore and catalog unknown planets in the galaxy. Because they travel at near light speed, expedition members know they will never see their loved ones again. Therefore, they choose neurotic personalities willing to tolerate long spaceflight. Their most difficult member is Osden, a former autistic who has been “fully cured” but is now hypersensitive to the thoughts of all sentient living things in range. This proves to be a massive liability for him, because he can acutely sense every thought of all his neurotic crew-members. His response is to be insulting, combative, and vitriolic. This feeds into a negative loop, creating a very toxic environment among the crew.

When they finally reach their destination, they discover a very green planet covered with fauna, concentrated into just a small number of species. As they explore, they sense a feeling of foreboding and fear. Ogden is particularly sensitive to it, and strange things begin to happen. It’s almost as if the forest itself were exuding the fear.

The crew frequently debate the merits of their mission, exposing hidden jealousies, rivalries, the limits of empathy, and how much we hide our true emotions in order to coexist. Even Ogden gives his side of things, complaining “I agree that even autistic withdrawal might be preferable to the smog of cheap secondhand emotions with which you people surround me.” His reaction is both self-defensive and vindictive, but he himself is a victim of his “gift” and the story’s denouement presents him with a surprising opportunity for redemption.

Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight: This takes a very creative approach to the Native American mythos of the trickster Coyote and a menagerie of animals in the American Southwest. A little girl is involved in an airplane crash and finds herself taken in by talking animals who don’t make a distinction between various “people,” whether human or animal. Coyote is constantly telling stories and boasting, but shows a rough kindness and takes her to her village. There she meets many animals of different persuasions like Bluejay and Grandma Spider, who don’t seem to mind her presence. As she gets to know them, she learns about their lives and history and how they have had their territories encroached upon by the “new people,” namely humans. And yet they don’t seem to hold a grudge.

Their open acceptance is contrasted with the crass behavior of humans in their towns and hunters with their guns who treat the natural world with contempt. This story has a playful tone, but beneath the surface is a condemnation of what humans have given up in favor of technology and modernization, and the dignity and resignation of the “old people” in the face of this. By telling the story through the eyes of an innocent child, Le Guin strips all the layers of the adult civilized world away to reveal the essential spiritual wasteland of the modern world.

The Matter of Seggri: This was one of the highlights of this collection. It is a brilliantly developed study of a society in which women are dominant in the economy, politics, education, and all practical professions. That leaves the men with just two roles, isolated in their castles — sports and breeding (siring children and serving as sex workers). In fact, women pay them for their services. While this may seem at first like an enviable position for men, Le Guin meticulously shows us their utter powerlessness. They are reduced to prized breeders and are given no other outlets or means of self-fulfillment except macho displays via violent sports.

Switching around familiar gender roles forces the reader to confront all the biases and rigid social barriers that form the basis for men and women’s roles in societies throughout human history, and brings home just how soul-crushing a position women have been frequently subjected to, even in this day and age. In particular, the cruel behavior towards men who are not prized as breeders parallels the intolerant treatment of women who cannot bear children. Towards the end of the story, we also see the vicious in-fighting among the men themselves. There is even the equivalent of an Equal Rights Movement, and it is bittersweet to see the men struggle to gain respect even after they are granted the right to higher education and other roles in society. I think this story is a real eye opener for younger readers in the West who have benefitted from far greater sexual equality than prior generations.

Another Story or a Fisherman of the Inland Sea: An inventive story that takes the ancient Japanese fable of Urashima Taro, the fisherman who rescues a turtle and is granted a visit to the undersea kingdom of the dragon god, and though he spends only three days by his reckoning, he discovers upon his return that three centuries have passed in his village.

It is the perfect framing story for this exploration of instantaneous space travel. It’s an idea also explored in two other Le Guin stories not included here, “The Shobies’ Story” and “Dancing to Ganam.” What better way to illustrate the idea of time/space relativity than with a young man growing up on the world of O, who desires to visit humanity’s home planet of Hain to study temporal physics. He knows that nearly-as-fast-as-light-travel (NAFAL) means that if he chooses to return to O, his family members will have aged far more than him.

Hideo devotes himself to studying Churnten theory, spending 10 years to experiment in instantaneously transporting objects across space. He decides to transport himself via transilience to a different location instantaneously, which goes fine, but when he transports himself back there is a “fold” or “wrinkle” in the Churn field, and Hideo finds himself in a very unexpected place and time. I won’t spoil the details, but if you recall the name of the story you might imagine what happens. It’s a very profound and understated crisis that he faces in a mature but bittersweet way.

Forgiveness Day: Here Le Guin introduces a pair of worlds named Werel and Yeowe. Werel has a firmly entrenched system of slavery, and the shock of encountering the Ekumen prompts the Werelians to colonize the planet of Yeowe using an-all male population of slaves (which they label “assets”). Later on, these slaves of Yeowe stage a revolution and throw out their Werelian owners. Forgiveness Day is the story of Ekumen envoy Solly, a brash young female agent assigned to the small kingdom of Gatay. She feels confident that she understands the rigid two-class social structure of Werel, in which owners are real people and bondspeople are slaves and not human at all.

Solly is assigned a taciturn guard from Voe Deo named Teyeo. He is offended by her overt sexuality and boldness in dealing with the conservative men of Gatay, and her naïveté towards the complex political situation is alarming. Voe Deo is the more powerful nation but is stinging from defeat in the slave revolution on Yeowe, which is where Teyeo served as a soldier on the losing side. He developed a reluctant respect for the Yeowen slaves he fought, but cannot break out of the owner-slave mentality.

Events take a sudden turn when Solly attends a festival called Forgiveness Day, but is attacked and kidnapped by anti-Ekumen nativist forces in Gatay, who are opposed to their government’s efforts to be accepted into the Ekumen. They fear the social upheaval of having their two-tiered hierarchy of slavery and the subordination of women threatened by alien Ekumenical ideas of equality among races and men & women.

A Man of the People: Le Guin’s HAINISH stories frequently feature envoys from the Ekumen, the alliance of worlds that were seeded by the Hainish people. She likes to use the objective lens of the ancient and sophisticated Ekumen as she explores the more exotic and primitive human societies as a means to analyze our deeply-ingrained social beliefs and assumptions.

However, it is quite rare to actually get a glimpse of life on Hain itself. With three million years of history, the legacy of the past weighs heavily on Hain. In a small pueblo called Stse, a young man named Havzhiva grows up in a quiet agrarian society, indifferent to the greater world or the weight of history. We get intriguing details on the complex social hierarchies and religious beliefs of Stse. However, Havzhiva is drawn to the teachings of the local temple, and yearns to study with the other major social group on Hain, the Historians.

Finally Havzhiva is sent to Yeowe as a historian. His job is to assist the newly-emerged society in leaving behind its brutal legacy of slavery and reinvent itself. He learns from his nurse that the women of Werel remain powerless and slave-like in status despite the successful rebellion against the owners. Despite their efforts to support the resistance, they remain voiceless. She asks him to assist in empowering them with the assistance of the Ekumen, triggering major consequences.

A Woman’s Liberation: This is a companion piece to the previous two stories, this time from the perspective of a young female slave (“asset”) named Rakam who grows up on the planet Werel. It follows her life as we see the brutal slavery of the Shomeke family in the land of Voe Deo (where Teyeo from “Forgiveness Day” comes from), a powerful nation that originally colonized Yeowe with slave labor. This allows Le Guin to show us the inner workings of a slave-owning ruler class and their bondswomen and bondmen. It is a harsh and cruel system, which should come as no surprise to anyone, but she certainly pulls no punches. Slaves are disposable objects that can be treated like garbage or killed with impunity.

When the slave revolt on Yeowe is successful, this has repercussions for the slaves of Werel as the owners fear the same will happen in their world. Rakam is caught up in the rebellion and finds herself and the other slaves “freed” by their lord. However, society is chaotic in the aftermath as the power vacuum is contested by various factions. We see how difficult it is eradicate owner-slave modes of thinking, even when the institutions crumble.

Rakam begins publishing writings about liberation and government and we see the birthing pains of a new society through her eyes. When things become dangerous for her, she finds a way to escape to Yeowe, the planet of freed slaves. But she again discovers that freedom there only extends to men and not women. Her knowledge and teaching skills are not welcomed at first. She must battle for recognition against the forces of ingrained prejudices against women. There are interesting contrasts and parallels with “The Matter of Seggri.” She becomes a leader among the women of Yeowe, sharing teachings from Werel and the Ekumen and assisting in the building of a more equitable society.

Old Music and the Slave Women: Though this story was not part of the four stories collected in Four Ways to Forgiveness, it is another story of Werel and Yeowe, this time centered on the Ekumen Special Envoy known as “Old Music,” who plays minor roles in the other stories.

Like “A Man of the People,” this is also a story of an Ekumenical officer, this time to Werel. In fact it is Esdardan Aya, also known as “Old Music.” He is stationed at the Ekumenical Embassy on Werel as Chief Intelligence Officer. Though Yeowe has thrown off the shackles of slavery from the owners of Werel, there remains a bitter struggle among different chieftains and warlords to seize control, a subject also covered in “A Women’s Liberation.” When “Old Music” is careless in venturing outside the compound he is captured by insurgents and ill-treated. He gets embroiled in different sides hoping to utilize him as a bargaining chip with the Ekumen. He strikes up a friendship with some of the slave women trapped amid the factional fighting, as helpless as he is.

It’s not exactly clear to me why Le Guin chose to write another story about Werel and Yeowe using similar themes and perspectives. We see the same cruelties and prejudices and in-fighting that come when one form of government is overthrown and new forms struggle for supremacy. “Old Music” is a wiser and more world-weary observer of this from previous characters, so perhaps the Le Guin wanted to further refine some of her ideas about the gap between ideals and reality amid a revolution.

The Finder: This is the first of three stories from Le Guin’s Tales from Earthsea (2001) contained in the collection, and tells the early history of Earthsea set several centuries before the events of the main EARTHSEA TRILOGY. While the reader would benefit from having read that series first, it certainly stands on its own. It’s a lengthy tale of the events leading to the founding of the School of Magic on the Island of Roke, but it’s much more than that.

The story centers on a young boy named Otter (his “use” name, not his “true” name) who grows up as an apprentice ship-builder to his father, who works for the local pirate-king. The boy shows a talent for magic, but in these times magic is a dangerous thing because most wizards and sorcerers are in the service of the warring lords and pirates of the Archipelago, and such attention could result in being put into servitude.

I will not reveal any further plot details, but we learn much about the inner workings of Roke, its origins in the magic underlying the creation of Earthsea, the role of women’s magic in the world, and how the school of magic came to be created. It is a fantastic story, told with exquisite writing, economy of language, strong characterization, and a sense of ancient legend and history. Having not read the EARTHSEA TRILOGY since I was in junior high, I now have a burning desire to revisit that series for the first time in three decades.

On the High Marsh: This is another tale of Earthsea, somewhat shorter, about a mysterious animal healer who shows up in the marshes on the Island of Semel. He is clearly more than he lets on, but his abilities to heal diseased cattle are undeniable, so the villagers seek his aid. He takes shelter in the house of a widowed woman named Gift, and provides several names though they are obviously untrue. He establishes himself as a mysterious but reliable healer, and one day a new stranger shows up on Gift’s doorstop, seeking after the healer. Without giving anything away, both the healer and his visitor are of far greater stature and share a more complicated relationship than Gift could ever have imagined. Readers will also appreciate the story more if they have read the EARTHSEA TRILOGY.

Dragonfly: This is an EARTHSEA story that takes place immediately after the events of Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea (1990), the fourth book in the EARTHSEA series. It is meant as a bridge story linking Tehanu and the final EARTHSEA book, The Other Wind (2001). So while it is a good stand-alone story, you will get more from it if you know the larger story background.

Dragonfly is a girl who grows up on an isolated property with an embittered, alcoholic father. Her mother died at childbirth, so she is forced to spend her time trying to maintain things. When her father refuses to grant her a true name ceremony, she goes to the village witch Rose and asks for it anyway. The witch grants it to her, but it is not the one she wanted, though true names are not something people can choose.

Meanwhile, her more successful uncle hires a wizard from Roke named Ivory, who is still inexperienced and seems to bear a grudge against the masters of the school of magic at Roke. When Ivory discovers Dragonfly living not far off, he is intrigued by her headstrong character and beauty. She also shows some talent for magic, which grabs his attention. When he tells her stories of Roke, she is eager to learn more and vows that she will enter the school of magic and become a mage herself. The only catch is… women have not been admitted to the magic school at Roke for centuries.

Paradises Lost: This is the final story in the collection, and takes on a SF staple, the generational starship. The ship Discovery is sent from Earth on a mission to explore and report back on a potentially-habitable planet many light years away. Because there is no cryogenic technology, this will be a multi-generational journey in which only the later generations of ship-inhabitants are likely to see the destination.

The central event is the “rebirth” of religion in the form of the Bliss movement, which emerges after the death of the most senior zero generation member. It seems to spontaneously arise among many of the inhabitants, and slowly evolves over time, at first celebrating a general spirituality that binds together people, much like a friendly but harmless cult. Over time, however, it starts to infiltrate the power structures of the ship, and its belief systems shift to celebrate the sanctity of the eternal journey through space rather than the ostensible destination of the original mission. This takes on a sinister tone as the Bliss members show a profound lack of interest in actually arriving anywhere — they liken the outside of the ship to non-existence and worship only the journey.

When the ship finally approaches its destination, the ship inhabitants are split between “voyagers” and “settlers.” The settlers are woefully unprepared to actually make a life on a new world after a lifetime of ease within the ship’s confines, and they are taken aback at alien things like wind, cold, shelters, shoes, food supplies, dirt, plants, and everything else on the new planet. The conclusion of the story is ambiguous and somewhat melancholy, as the settlers are unlikely to survival on their new home, whereas the voyagers are lost in a haze of religious fervor. All in all, it is very open-ended story that lets the reader draw their own conclusions.
Profile Image for Kara Babcock.
1,952 reviews1,293 followers
May 16, 2019
At least one book’s length, if not a whole library of, encomia of Ursula K. Le Guin has already been written by people far more learned than me. It’s so tempting to take this collection of her novellas and use it as an excuse to praise Le Guin as an author in general. Yet there isn’t much I can hope to add to that conversation. Yet The Found and the Lost, as a collection of some of Le Guin’s novellas, is itself commentary on Le Guin as an author: her ideas, her choices, her voice.

Collections are always curious things, particularly of novellas that were not necessarily meant to be together in the first place. It’s fortunate that Le Guin was able to curate this prior to her death. I’m not sure anyone else would have pulled together her works in the way she would have wanted. As it is, this is a collection of Hainish/Ekumen novellas and Earthsea works. I think I had read one or two of them elsewhere—they felt vaguely familiar—but otherwise I enjoyed that many of these were new to me. I started this in the summer of 2018, hoping to read it over a few weeks on my deck. Life had other plans, so here I am only finishing it now. But it was worth it.

All of Le Guin’s works, whether they are set in a future of worlds scattered amongst the stars or in an alternate world of islands scattered across an ocean, are deeply considered with ideas of power, gender, and class. These novellas showcase how she uses science fiction and fantasy to interrogate the extent to which injustice seems to be an artifact of the human condition and how much our social constructs influence it.

The novellas set on Werel feature a slave-owning caste eventually overthrown during a long, bloody civil war. Le Guin examines this society from multiple points of view: slaves, owners or privileged people, and the supposedly-neutral Ekumen observers. She interrogates the intersections of class, race, and gender. Notably, Le Guin’s protagonists, and indeed the majority of the characters in books, often have brown skin tones. Le Guin is careful to subvert the “whiteness by default” trope, to remark on the skin colours of black, brown, and white characters. These are the subtle ways in which she challenges our privileges and assumptions as readers.

Le Guin has less subtle ways of challenging us too. The Earthsea stories focus mainly on the role of wizards within the kyriarchy. The novellas take place at very different times in Earthsea’s history. One concerns the founding of Roke and foreshadows the establishment of wizardry as a male-only trade, which is reprised and expanded upon in Dragonfly. These stories remind me a lot of the main Earthsea cycle and its protagonists, Ged and Tenar: one of Le Guin’s trademark moves, in my opinion, is her stubborn refusal to give us heroes. These novellas really emphasize that people who have more power don’t always use that power in sensible ways. In addition to the truism that power corrupts, Le Guin points out that people are flawed in general. The most famous Archmage is no less fallible than a fisherman or fisherwoman, despite our yearning as readers for larger-than-life heroic mages who can beat back the forces of darkness.

In the end, Le Guin refuses to give us comfort. Her stories are unrelenting in their realism, despite being works of speculative fiction. The last story in this collection, Paradises Lost, exemplifies this approach. Le Guin’s take on a generation ship story feels very realistic in the way it deals with the emergence of a new religion and the gradual disinterest in the ship’s original purpose.

If this review has slipped back into discussing Le Guin’s work in a more general way, that’s only because The Found and the Lost is itself a comprehensive celebration of Le Guin’s work. She is a first-class author because she possesses those twin talents of both theme and storytelling ability. Reading a Le Guin story is to wrap oneself in another world for a time; this is the ultimate aim of almost any storytelling experience. Not every story of Le Guin’s is 5 stars and golden, of course. Some will resonate with you more than others. Yet even at her least engaging, Ursula K. Le Guin holds her own—and then some.

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Profile Image for Jamie.
1,179 reviews431 followers
December 28, 2019

Le Guin is the master of the novella. Each of these stories contains a universe; even the stories meant to expand the worlds she’s created in her Hainish and Earthsea cycles, they feel complete unto themselves.

And the shape of each story— it’s her carrier bag theory of fiction in practice. A different way of thinking about narrative. And far beyond that— a different way of thinking about the world we live in, what we do within it, how we frame our lives.

I’m in awe.



I’m on page 150 and could stop the book now and give it five stars. I won’t, 650 pages to go, but here are the lines I wrote down from “Hernes”:

It’s queer how the words change and change the world.


I needed to walk, down on the beach, get the sky over me.


Elk. Nine of them going along, easy in their majesty, carrying their crowns.


She misses him but she doesn’t really miss him, she doesn’t need him. She is complete.


What can you do to evil but refuse it? Not pretend it isn’t there, but look at it, and know it, and refuse it.


He’d fly along the beach like a little thistle seed.


I don’t know what I want; I don’t know that I want anything. Only to know some soul better. It’s like there’s a country in me where I can’t go. And other people have that country in them, but I don’t know how to find it.


Placid as a goldfish. But there are countries in her. She is a mystery.


Pure romance: to love what you can never touch. And was the love he thanked me for, his pure delight, ever more than that— a bubble without substance, that a touch would break?

Profile Image for Caroline.
379 reviews97 followers
October 13, 2019
Although my enjoyment of each story varied, there is no denying that each is masterfully crafted. Usually when a book takes me more than a month to read it is because there is some aspect of it that prevents me from readily picking it up and/or encourages me to easily put it down. Here, however, the richness and complexity of each tale demands reflection and introspection upon completion. This collection is a must read.
Profile Image for Nick.
Author 21 books104 followers
March 3, 2018
Ursula K. Le Guin is a wizard, an anthropologist, an inventor of mysteries, and sage of gender, and a plumber of the puzzles of existence. This set of novellas was a reminder of how much I will miss not having a new Le Guin book to look forward to, and how much I will still enjoy re-reading her classics. She is peerless.
Profile Image for Christopher.
380 reviews5 followers
January 27, 2021
Outstanding collection of novellas, ranging from fantasy of the Earthsea series, to the almost anthropological science fiction of the Hainish cycle, to the somewhat more traditional science fiction of ‘Paradises Lost’ and the non-traditional family saga ‘Hernes’. A fine cross-section of a great author’s work.
Profile Image for Larry Bassett.
1,458 reviews305 followers
July 25, 2017
There are a bunch of stories here and I find it difficult to name the word that describes them all. Some are good and some are very good. It may be true that all describe people in different circumstances than we are used to in our lives but somehow in many cases they describe situations that are reminiscent of our experiences. There are stories about people discovering people who are different from them and world that are different from theirs. I am still getting used to Ursula Le Guin but it is obvious to me at this moment that she contains a lot of brilliance. She must be now in her 80s but is apparently still writing. She still evidently has things to say about how we might live in our world. At her worst I find Le Guin interesting and at her best I find her delightful. I hope I will find more of her work in my growing list of audible books that I continue to purchase although I think I may have enough already to last me for quite some time!
Profile Image for Sadie Slater.
446 reviews12 followers
January 5, 2020
The Found and the Lost collects together thirteen of Ursula Le Guin's novellas. (I'm not entirely clear whether this is absolutely every novella-length story she ever published, or just a selection.) I've had my copy for several years but was put off reading it because it is very large - a hardback with 800 pages, printed on heavy paper - so I thought I'd seize the opportunity to read it while I was off work and didn't have to attempt to carry it around with me.

I realised when I looked at the table of contents that I'd read seven of the thirteen stories quite recently; the collection includes three of the four stories from Four Ways to Forgiveness, three of the stories from Tales from Earthsea and the title story of A Fisherman of the Inland Sea, as well as 'Vaster Than Empires And More Slow' from The Wind's Twelve Quarters, which I read several times when I was in my teens. (I also realised, looking through my other Le Guin books while re-shelving this, that three more of the stories are in The Birthday of the World, which I own but haven't read yet - if you have a substantial Le Guin collection it's worth considering whether The Found and the Lost is really value for money.) I had originally planned not to re-read the stories I'd read in the last couple of years, but it felt like cheating to say I'd read the book if I'd actually only read less than half of it, and Le Guin's writing is always worth re-reading, so in the end I read the collection straight through.

As well as the Earthsea and Hainish stories, the novellas collected here include the non-SFF 'Hernes', the story of four generations of women living in a coastal town in Oregon; 'Buffalo Gals, Won't You Come Out Tonight', which uses Native American mythology to look at the disconnect between modern culture and nature; and 'Paradises Lost', possibly my favourite, which is set on a generation ship five generations into its voyage, where many of the descendents of the original travellers are beginning to question the need for a destination. Told as a series of vignettes centred around two characters who have known each other since early childhood, it's a haunting, thoughtful story which feels perfectly complete in itself but still leaves me wishing there was more about these people and their journey. I also very much liked 'The Matter of Seggri', a novella set in the Hainish universe which uses an initially simplistic-seeming reversal of gender roles in the society it describes to raise questions about gender equality more widely. Of the stories I'd read before, 'Dragonfly', which is the final story from Tales of Earthsea, particularly stood out this time round for its engagement with the question of conservative backlash against change, and the way change, and the response to it, splits communities. Despite first being published in 1998, it felt very contemporary.
Profile Image for Loreley.
371 reviews88 followers
October 17, 2020
საშუალო შეფასება 4.15 გამოვიდა, მაგრამ იმდენად ვისიამოვნე მთლიანად კრებულით რომ ვუმატებ :დ 4.5/5
ძალიან იშვიათია რომ კრებული ასეთი თანაბრად კარგი იყოს. ბევრი ჰაინის ციკლიდან ან ზღვამიწეთიდანაა, მაგრამ ზოგი დამოუკიდებელი ნოველაა.

Vaster than Empires and More Slow 4
Buffalo Gals 4.5
Hernes 4
The Matter of Seggri 4.5
Another Story of A Fisherman of the Inland Sea 4
Forgiveness Day 4
Man of the People 4
A Woman's Liberation 4
Old Music and the Slave Women 3.5
The Finder 4.5
On the High Marsh 4
Dragonfly 4.5
Paradises Lost 4.5
Profile Image for b.
521 reviews21 followers
April 7, 2018
This was a lot. I don’t think there’s any way to really review something this big and diverse, but I guess I’ll say it’s sort of amazing how UKLG handles the annoying over-exposition that sci fi and fantasy seem required to include without boring or annoying me, and I was a bit baffled at moving from stories about being outside of time to huge interconnected stories about planets going thru revolution (thru so many generations too, never afraid to leap thru time, and no romance/guarantee that things that get better will stay better or stay the same or that what was once necessary might no longer be what’s best), to fantasy (I have no bearing on anything by UKLG outside of the Hainish/Ecumen “cycle”), and then seemingly looping from the one into the other in the final story. UKLG is not afraid to dream of utopia or to imbue characters with a clarity to purpose, to guffaw at capitalism and gender and so many pointless distractions, and inhabiting these stories for as long as it took to get thru them makes me feel calm and grounded and hopeful.
Profile Image for Daniel.
2 reviews
January 31, 2017
A long read, but truly wonderful.

"A Fisherman of the Inland Sea" and "Paradises Lost" are standouts.
Profile Image for Sean Estelle.
375 reviews23 followers
September 15, 2021
There's no way to do justice to all the novellas in the collection, so reviewing it as a whole body of work, I found it a bit uneven. Some of this was the best writing maybe ever from Le Guin that I've read, and some of it was a bit boring. I also understood why they had 4 novellas set in the same world/timeline, and 3 from her Earthsea cycle, but it did end up feeling repetitive and lead to a much slower time reading this. Still definitely worth it though if you are a big Le Guin fan and like both her fantasy and her sci-fi.
968 reviews12 followers
October 12, 2018
the novella seems like the perfect length for Le Guin, especially for the stories in her expansive developed universes. and indeed the early history of the earthsea school at Roke is one of the standout stories. my second favorite was neither science fiction nor fantasy, though, but the history of a family (of women, mostly) in the pacific northwest.
Profile Image for Virginia.
36 reviews7 followers
April 6, 2022
Ursula LeGuin has long been one of my favourite authors, and reading this collection only reinforced that opinion. She has such impressive skills in characterization, building dimensional, real people and worlds. Reading her work, particularly the sci-fi stories, often makes me think much more deeply about the assumptions I make, that we all make, about the whys and hows of the way our society and culture is built and operates. Easy 5 stars.
Profile Image for Markus.
379 reviews15 followers
May 22, 2023
If you already like the Hain cycle and Earthsea obviously read this
If you don't, also read it
Profile Image for Dana.
11 reviews1 follower
November 25, 2021
got me HOOKED on some Ms. Le Guin. all 801 pages were quite delicious
Profile Image for lauraღ.
1,587 reviews76 followers
July 4, 2019
"O, o, Ye-o-we, nobody never comes back."

I adored this collection of novellas; ADORED IT. It was my second experience with Le Guin, and while I liked the first one a lot (LHOD) it was in this collection that I really saw what people mean when they talk about the beauty of Le Guin's writing. I listened to this on audiobook but I know if I'd read it, half of it would be highlighted, so awed was I by the loveliness of her prose. As it is, I have a bunch of clips saved. In The Left Hand of Darkness I was struck by the simplicity of her writing, and that's still there, but it's also so rich and raw. And the world building is so extensive and intricate and far-reaching and exploratory... THIS IS SCIENCE FICTION! I can't really explain what I want out of scifi, though it's one of my favourite genres, but whatever it is that I want, Le Guin delivers! And she delivers it while commenting on gender and sexuality and race and slavery and humanity. Which you just don't expect to get meaningful commentaries on in scifi of this era. Or I guess I don't expect to? Haha so much scifi is so bad...

But this was GOOD.

Let me get this out of the way: I didn't like the Earthsea stories. Like I said, I'm fairly new to Le Guin and I'm not familiar with the Earthsea world and nothing about them really clicked with me. It was neat, sure, but there was a lot I didn't understand. It was only afterwards that I read a review that mentioned that the Earthsea stories would really benefit from familiarity with the rest of the books/world. But also I mean... I'm not super familiar with the Hainish Cycle either and I devoured those stories. I guess they just weren't for me. I'm actually going to take A Wizard of Earthsea off of my 'Want to Read' list because I don't think I actually do want read it. And I'm at peace with that.

And now, a few brief words on the novellas I liked best.

Really great collection. Took me two months of slow listening but it was very much worth it.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
306 reviews
June 30, 2020
When I read science fiction, what is it that I really want to read about? Novel ideas and technologies, and their societal, psychosocial, perhaps even philosophical ramifications on humans or aliens alike. Strange, wondrous settings and worlds, and like in all good stories, all familiar stories, uniquely sticky situations that our heroes find themselves in, and how they struggle psychologically and physically, apply their strengths, deal with their weaknesses, fail, succeed sometimes, fail but succeed, succeed but fail. And like in all good stories, just tell me the interesting parts, and skip the mundane. Find an interesting hook. Weave some magic. Don't give a lecture.

The funny thing about technology: sometimes it stagnates for ages, and sometimes it advances in spurts. The same must be true about writing. I had recently had this little foolish idea that instead of the classics, I should try reading some of the latest, and thus greatest, bestsellers. After all, they had the most opportunities to stand on the shoulders of giants.

Alas, disappointment. I guess the classics are the classics for a reason after all. And yet, even what I had read by Le Guin so far (the Earthsea quartet, Rocannon's World) did not prepare me nearly enough for this collection of masterpieces. This is not just 5-star material. It is "blew me out of the water", "is this the best book I have ever read?" material. I give this my strongest recommendation.

5/5 Vaster Than Empires And More Slow: Deliciously spine-chilling and psychological.
5/5 Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight: A shorter, better version of (and predates) Neil Gaiman's American Gods.
2/5 Hernes: Eh what no please.
5/5 The Matter Of Seggri: Compelling, heartwrenching, and (sadly) still relevant in this day and age.
5/5 Another Story Or A Fisherman Of The Inland Sea: Once again compelling and heartwrenching. Oh, my heart aches so much.
5/5 Forgiveness Day: Two deeply flawed characters struggle together and help each other amidst calamity. Reminds me of The Tombs of Atuan.
5/5 A Man Of The People: Melancholic with a touch of nauseating, but also quietly brilliant.
6/5 A Woman’s Liberation: Brutal, stomach-lurching, yet also inspiring. I feel like I have aged a few years after reading this.
5/5 Old Music And The Slave Women: This is a quiet story—the quietness that comes with wisdom, old age, and death.
5/5 The Finder: The prequel to the Earthsea series, and perhaps the best story in it.
5/5 On The High Marsh: Another great Earthsea story, one about redemption.
5/5 Dragonfly: It is a good story, but I feel like there is something here I'm missing.
2/5 Paradises Lost: Oh man.
Profile Image for Nannah.
485 reviews17 followers
January 15, 2022
This is, by far, the best book/collection of works I’ve read in the last couple of years, if not longer. Maybe for a very, very long time, to be honest. I read and liked the Earthsea books okay enough as a kid, and I’m furious it’s taken me this long to reconnect with Ursula K. Le Guin’s works.

Content Warnings:
(Unfortunately I forgot to take note of warnings for each individual novella)
- ableism (in-book as well as a lot of [unintentional?] casual ableism in general)
- ableist slurs
- rape
- victim blaming
child abuse
- slavery
- pedophilia
- incest

(Again … I apologize)
- many protagonists have darker skin (or are the world’s oppressed race[s])
- a few protagonists are disabled

One of these days I’ll come back here and edit this review to go work by work, because I fully intend to reread this (and take notes).

This collection is mind blowing in many ways. Firstly, it’s truly massive, larger than most dictionaries, and contains thirteen novellas: every novella Ursula K. Le Guin has written. Secondly, its concepts are not only well written but so ahead of their time that many stories published today are still lightyears behind these (the oldest novella was published in 1972 and the newest in 2002, although I can’t find publishing dates for all of them). Thirdly, it’s one of those rare collections in which every single work is fantastic. There are no duds (the first novella has inaccurate information about autism considered accurate when the work was written that makes me cringe, but it's my only critique).

I honestly have nothing more to say right now.
I’m just very glad to have once again found a connection with Ursula K. Le Guin … I can’t wait to read and reread her other works.
Profile Image for Sean.
314 reviews24 followers
July 30, 2019
I love almost everything LeGuin every wrote, and this book is full of things I fully love. Especially "Paradises Lost," which I had never read before. Four thousand people on a ship, making a six generation journey to a possibly habitable planet. One group, the "Angels," get all religiousy and doesn't belief in the mission or the world outside the ship. All of existence is just being on the ship, doing what they are doing, seeking "bliss." The rest of the folk are more sane than that. But what struck me as interesting is how the "religious" group more accurately mirror real world materialists who do not believe in anything outside the closed system of the material world, while the group that might be called the nonreligious are aware that their existence on the ship has its meaning from a larger unseen context that includes before the mission, after the mission, and outside the ship on a planet no one has ever seen.

I doubt that this is what LeGuin intended, but who cares? The text now exists apart from her, and that is how I read it. She frequently upends our expectations, so this flip is perfectly normal for her.
Profile Image for Ella.
736 reviews131 followers
March 7, 2018
It took me over a year to read this. It's huge and heavy, so I could only read at home. Luckily the novellas are short, so one sitting can cover one chapter. Slightly uneven, as any collection is bound to be, but I liked this enough to write "never give away" inside the cover. I wish I'd been smarted and noted something about each novella as I read, but I wasn't and I didn't. I'm so pleased to have this and its companion of collected short stories in my personal collection.
27 reviews1 follower
January 2, 2022
Ursula Le Guin al suo meglio in questa raccolta di racconti lunghi che spaziano dalla fantascienza al fantasy, come le è consueto. L'amore e l'empatia verso l'altro, la dialettica tra i sessi, il rapporto tra persona e organizzazione sociale, le biforcazioni della storia collettiva e dei destini individuali, sono anche qui i temi ricorrenti di questa grande, grande scrittrice.
Profile Image for Julie.
242 reviews5 followers
April 6, 2022
She truly is a Grandmaster writer.

There are a lot of Hainish stories and a few set in Earthsea, and then a couple just generic ones that I did not care for. Most of the stories were very good, especially the first one.

When I have more time I'll get my kindle and look up all the names of the novellas and list them.

This collection is a must have for fans of Ursula K. Le Guin!
Profile Image for Peter.
709 reviews48 followers
September 5, 2017
Average rating of all novellas: 2.7

I'd normally round off that average rating, but in this case, I didn't feel that a 2.7 justified reading 800 pages worth of novellas. The writing was generally quite good in all the books, but the stories were consistently underwhelming. The author clearly has a handful of themes she like to explore in her stories and while they were usually interesting and well done, I did get tired of the same ones being discussed over and over.

The better stories, like A Woman's Liberation, The Matter of Seggri and Paradises Lost, tended to have a clear story with a solid idea and didn't drag on unnecessarily. Whereas most of the others often felt much longer than they were and tried to do too much by either having too much boring dialogue or dragging the story out for no good reason. All the stories had a glimmer of originality to them, but nothing really stood out as truly unique. The endings were always unsatisfying in some way and that's probably my biggest gripe with the authors writing.

After having done this collection, I'm probably not going to be picking up any of her full-length novels. I would recommend it to people who enjoy good writing and stories without a more traditional ending. Reviews of the individual novellas below.

1. Vaster Than Empires and More Slow - 3/5

2. Buffalo Gals, Won't You Come Out Tonight - 2/5

3. Hernes - 1/5
This was a bore and a chore to get through, making very little sense and putting me to sleep constantly. If there was a story here, I missed it. The writing was pretentious and over the top and I skimmed through the last third since I was beyond caring and far too lost to bother.

4. The Matter of Seggri - 4/5

5. Another Story or a Fisherman of the Inland Sea - 3/5

6. Forgiveness Day - 2/5

7. A Man of the People - 3/5
This was another story set in the Hanish universe and once again focused heavily on cultural differences. We get to learn about some interesting cultures and how people handle transitioning from and between them. This story was quite interesting and got off to a strong start, but petered out towards the end.

8. A Woman's Liberation - 4/5
This was a much better story set in the Hanish universe once again. It actually ties in with the 'A Man of the People' novella, but whereas that one felt quite aimless, this story had a nice focus to it. This author does a really good job at creating characters with a lot of nuance, but her stories can be quite hit or miss. This was definitely more of a hit.

9. Old Music and the Slave Women - 2/5
This story gave another perspective of the events in the previous two novellas in this collection. Was it necessary? No. I got bored pretty quickly with this one since there wasn't much to add anymore to the overarching story or the people of the world at large. There was some good writing and world development, but I was a bit too bored to enjoy it.

10. The Finder - 3/5

11. On the High Marsh - 3/5
This was another novella set in the fantasy world that The Finder novella introduced. It was quite a strange little story, but surprisingly good. It was very short but kept up a nice little mystery thread throughout. The ending was a bit anticlimactic again, but it actually worked very well in terms of breaking with typical fantasy story tropes.

12. Dragonfly - 1/5
Wow, I was exceptionally bored with this one. The first half is a cliche mess of teenage motivations while the second half is basically a bunch of old men whining about the good ol days and the doomed future. I was only half paying attention towards the end.

13. Paradises Lost - 4/5
Profile Image for Mindy McAdams.
491 reviews31 followers
February 18, 2017
There are 13 novellas or long stories in this collection, and all of them share Le Guin's remarkable sense of character and humanity. I think I would like to reread her novels soon; I read several when I was in my teens and early twenties. Lots of wonderful stuff about gender, relationship roles, alternative family structures — these are often highly inventive and fascinating.

Le Guin has developed a few different storyworlds, which appear and reappear in various books, and here as well. The Hainish stories involve Envoys and various planets settled long, long ago by the people of Hain. Earth (Terra) was one of these. Several stories in this book concern two neighboring planets where slavery — United States–style lifetime-ownership slavery — is the norm, although on one of the planets, a slave rebellion ended the practice. We see several characters reappear in these stories, which I really liked. The Hainish stories include "The Matter of Seggri" (loved this); "Another Story, or a Fisherman of the Inland Sea" (maybe my favorite; it features a time anomaly and a childhood friendship); "Forgiveness Day" (about an ambassador and her bodyguard); "A Man of the People" (such a bland title for such a marvelous story); "A Woman's Liberation"; "Old Music and the Slave Women."

Then there are the Earthsea stories, full of magic on a planet of islands: "The Finder" (long before Roke became the strong center of magic); "On the High Marsh" (in which a lost sorcerer finds a home and a friend); "Dragonfly" (a young woman of uncertain name goes to Roke).

"Buffalo Gals Won't You Come Out Tonight" was so good, I might read it again. It plays on American Indian mythologies in a dreamlike way.

The final story, "Paradises Lost," concerns the forth and fifth generations of space explorers on a long mission to a distant habitable planet. Parts of it made me think of Neal Stephenson's Seveneves, which in the end I really didn't like much. I liked this story, but I felt the ending was rushed, compacted.

"Vaster than Empires and More Slow" was an odd start to this collection, as it's not really representative of the majority of the stories. A very socially maladapted spaceship crew member, Osden, makes all his fellow scientists intensely uncomfortable. The situation only gets worse when they begin exploring a unique planet with no vertebrate lifeforms. And for anyone who's ever felt afraid inside a forest, there are sinister trees.

"Hernes" was my least favorite. The story of three generations of women, it just never connected with me.
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