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The Found and the Lost: The Collected Novellas of Ursula K. Le Guin
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The Found & the Lost discussion > "Forgiveness Day" by Ursula K. Le Guin

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This is our discussion of the short story....

" Forgiveness Day " by Ursula K. Le Guin

(Originally published 1994. Asimov's Science Fiction, November 1994, Four Ways to Forgiveness)

From the anthology The Found and the Lost: The Collected Novellas of Ursula K. Le Guin by Ursula K. Le Guin. See The Found and the Lost anthology discussion hub for more info on the anthology and pointers to discussion of its other stories.


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Hainish universe story. Werel is an extreme male-dominated planet (and still practices slavery), currently outside the Ekumen; naturally, the Ekumen sends a female Ambassador, Solly. Werel is an extreme example of patriarchy and caste society. The disregard of females is so thoroughly ingrained, that as Le Guin writes it, "When she contradicted Lord Gatuyo in a discussion, he stared with the blank disbelief of a man who has been talked back to by his shoe."

Le Guin offers to points of view in the story: Solly, the sole Ekumen ambassador to Werel, and Teyeo, her assigned military guard.

Solly ends up getting involved in local/planetary politics as well. A former Werel colony world, on which the slaves (assets overthrew their owners provides external political rivalry, while on Werel itself, a now repressed religious sect provides internal dissent.

Teyeo provides the local PoV. As a soldier in the Civil War on Yeowe, he'd already intellectually accepted that the slaves made just as good soldiers as the Werel free men. That doesn't keep him from being repulsed when Solly invites a slave from a theatrical troupe over for tea. He's also forced to concede some competence to Solly when the pair are kidnapped.

In the end, this is a romance.


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I think it's interesting that this was published (1993) three years before Madeleine Albright became the first female US Secretary of State (1997.) At that time there had been concern as to whether a woman could negotiate with countries that didn't allow women to serve in such positions, such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, etc. Solly provides a fictional template for such an undertaking.


message 4: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 2509 comments G33z3r wrote: "I think it's interesting that this was published (1993) three years before Madeleine Albright became the first female US Secretary of State (1997.) At that time there had been concern as to whether..."

You know, back in high school I did a project on female world leaders, and they were often in countries that were more male dominated (India, Israel, Pakistan, among others), while countries like Canada and the US, even 20 years later, *still* haven't had a female head of state. I always found that odd and interesting.


Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments Canada's Head of State has been female for 65 years!


message 6: by Andrea (new) - added it

Andrea | 2509 comments Brendan wrote: "Canada's Head of State has been female for 65 years!"

Hmm, maybe should reword that to "elected head of state" then. Our Governor General has also frequently been a woman, but they are appointed not elected. And...technically we had Kim Campbell for about 6 months, but again, not elected. She took over when Brian Mulroney retired while still in office. After which the entire Conservative party was virtually voted out of power. So we try to pretend it never happened :)


Brendan (mistershine) | 743 comments Yeah poor Kim Campbell was a good example of the "glass cliff" phenomenon.


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