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Search tags: Ursula-Le-Guin
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review 2018-04-19 05:23
New beginnings
Four Ways to Forgiveness - Ursula K. Le Guin

These are four loosely connected but independent short stories set at the start of Yeowe's independence from Werel, after 30 years of revolutionary war. They are the stories of people as different as they can possibly come, coming to terms. With loss, with cultural differences, with a place in society, with the past. They are all also big on starting anew. And, of course, feminism. The right to freedom, to a voice, to vote, to an education, to not be raped. These are all discussed and are an important part of the book, given the planet's recent upheaval and it's heavy history of slavery and male-dominated environment.

 

I found it bittersweet and lovely, and ended up with a huge bunch of quotes saved and a lump in my throat that I know not what to do with. There is so much wrong with this planet, so much hurt, and yet... it is so hopeful. I guess forgiveness is a kind of hope. Another chance. Much like love; another thing that permeates the book and is ever-present in every story.

 

I have closed it, as so many stories close, with a joining of two people. What is one man’s and one woman’s love and desire, against the history of two worlds, the great revolutions of our lifetimes, the hope, the unending cruelty of our species? A little thing. But a key is a little thing, next to the door it opens. If you lose the key, the door may never be unlocked. It is in our bodies that we lose or begin our freedom, in our bodies that we accept or end our slavery. So I wrote this book for my friend, with whom I have lived and will die free.

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text 2018-04-19 04:54
Reading progress update: I've read 270 out of 304 pages.
Four Ways to Forgiveness - Ursula K. Le Guin

“I was sick to leave my books, and I’ve thought about them, missing them, as if they were my family. But I think maybe I’m a fool to feel that way.”
“Why a fool?” he asked. He had a foreign accent, but he had the Yeowan lilt already, and his voice was beautiful, low and warm.
I tried to explain everything at once: “Well, they mean so much to me because I was illiterate when I came to the City, and it was the books that gave me freedom, gave me the world—the worlds— But now, here, I see how the net, the holos, the neareals mean so much more to people, giving them the present time. Maybe it’s just clinging to the past to cling to books. Yeowans have to go towards the future. And we’ll never change people’s minds just with words.”
He listened intently, as he had done at the meeting, and then answered slowly, “But words are an essential way of thinking. And books keep the words true. . . . I didn’t read till I was an adult, either.”
“You didn’t?”
“I knew how, but I didn’t. I lived in a village. It’s cities that have to have books,” he said, quite decisively, as if he had thought about this matter. “If they don’t, we keep on starting over every generation. It’s a waste. You have to save the words.”

 

“Talk goes by,” I said, “and all the words and images in the net go by, and anybody can change them. But books are there. They last. They are the body of history, Mr. Yehedarhed says.”

 

These speak to the book-lover soul in me

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review 2018-04-17 14:41
Walking Ahead into the Darkness: "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas - Ursula K. Le Guin

“There's a point, around the age of twenty, when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life, or to make a virtue of your peculiarities.”

 

In “The Dispossessed” by Ursula K. Le Guin.

 

Thank you, Ursula k. Le Guin, for encouraging me to celebrate my peculiarities. The short story about 'Omelas' is as insightful a demolition of utilitarianism I've read. Well, I didn't mean refutation, I meant demolish the underlying rationale. If we're all OK with someone perfectly innocent being lumped with all misery so we can be happy, then it's for the greater good, no? If we're not happy with that trade, and I doubt any society that isn't made of psychos would be, then for the utilitarianism is obviously undesirable as second order moral justification.

 

Utilitarianism is supposed to be a way to be good, by maximizing happiness. But if maximizing happiness above all else leads to evil, then it's a bit of a non-starter. If you bring in rules and regulations to stop leading to an Omelas type scenario, then these are meta rules that aren't justified by utilitarianism, and so you're leaning on something else, or shorter, you've stopped justifying your acts by utilitarianism and at best it's become are process within the framework. In real life, we can't know what maximizes happiness, and so it's all a bit philosopher’s armchair.

 

If you're into SF, read on.

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text 2018-04-17 00:48
Reading progress update: I've read 180 out of 304 pages.
Four Ways to Forgiveness - Ursula K. Le Guin

Under the Bosses, I ran this hospital. Now a man runs it. Our men are the owners now. And we’re what we always were. Property. I don’t think that’s what we fought the long war for. Do you, Mr. Envoy? I think what we have is a new liberation to make. We have to finish the job.”
After a long silence, Havzhiva asked softly, “Are you organised?”
“Oh, yes. Oh, yes! Just like the old days. We can organize in the dark!” She laughed a little. “But I don’t think we can win freedom for ourselves alone by ourselves alone. There has to be a change. The men think they have to be bosses. They have to stop thinking that. Well, one thing we have learned in my lifetime, you don’t change a mind with a gun. You kill the boss and you become the boss. We must change that mind. The old slave mind, boss mind. We have got to change it, Mr. Envoy. With your help. The Ekumen’s help.”
“I’m here to be a link between your people and the Ekumen. But I’ll need time,” he said. “I need to learn.”
“All the time in the world. We know we can’t turn the boss mind around in a day or a year. This is a matter of education.” She said the word as a sacred word. “It will take a long time.

 

Like always, Le Guin being brilliant, passionate and compassionate at the same time. The context makes this dialogue so damn poignant.

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text 2018-04-01 05:35
March Reading
The Lost Plot - Genevieve Cogman
Endurance: My Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery - Scott Kelly
Nelvana of the Northern Lights - Adrian Dingle
Medicine Walk - Richard Wagamese,Tom Stechschulte
The Prey of Gods - Nicky Drayden
Out Standing in the Field: A Memoir by Canada's First Female Infantry Officer - Sandra Perron
City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris - Holly Tucker
Ester and Ruzya: How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler's War and Stalin's Peace - Masha Gessen
Lavinia - Ursula K. Le Guin
Penric's Fox - Lois McMaster Bujold

Fourteen Books Read:

The Lost Plot - Genevieve Cogman 

Endurance: My Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery - Scott Kelly 

Nelvana of the Northern Lights - Adrian Dingle 

Medicine Walk - Richard Wagamese

Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters - Dick Winters, Cole C. Kingseed 

The Prey of Gods - Nicky Drayden 

Out Standing in the Field: A Memoir by Canada's First Female Infantry Officer - Sandra Perron 

Place to Belong - Claire Boston 

City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris - Holly Tucker

Ester and Ruzya: How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler's War and Stalin's Peace - Masha Gessen 

The Girls in the Picture: A Novel - Melanie Benjamin (DNF)

Lavinia - Ursula K. Le Guin

The Covert Captain: Or, A Marriage of Equals - Jeannelle M. Ferreira (DNF)

Penric's Fox - Lois McMaster Bujold  

 

Women Writers Bingo: 10/25

(Personal take: Finish 25 books by new-to-me female authors in 2018*)

Finished in March: Nicky Drayden, Sandra Perron, Claire Boston, Holly Tucker, Masha Gessen**

 

Gender Balance:

Fiction: 7 by women, 2 by men, 0 by non-binary

Non fiction: 3 by women, 2 by men, 0 by non-binary

 

Format:

Paper books that I own: 1

Paper books from library: 4

E-books that I own: 2

E-books from library: 1

Audiobooks that I own: 5

Audiobooks from the library: 1

 

March Goals:

Read two Hugo nominated novels and all of the short stories.

 

*Women Writers Bingo Bonus Points:

5 of those books in translation: 1/5

5 of those books are non-fiction: 4/5 (Warmth of other Suns, Out Standing in the Field, City of Light, Ester and Ruzya)

 

Bingo Companion Round:

5 books by non-binary authors: 0/5

 

**As per this essay, I'm not completely sure about listing Masha Gessen under female authors, but it seems at the moment the best option.

 

Previous months:

January Reading

February Reading

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