Fisherman of the Inland Sea


The winner of the Pushcart Prize, the Kafka Award, and the National Book Award, Ursula K. Le Guin has created a profound and transformational literature. The award-winning stories in A Fisherman of the Inland Sea range from the everyday to the outer limits of experience, where the quantum uncertainties of space and time are resolved only in the depths of the human heart. Astonishing in their diversity and power, they exhibit both the artistry of a major writer at the height of her powers and the humanity of a ...

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The winner of the Pushcart Prize, the Kafka Award, and the National Book Award, Ursula K. Le Guin has created a profound and transformational literature. The award-winning stories in A Fisherman of the Inland Sea range from the everyday to the outer limits of experience, where the quantum uncertainties of space and time are resolved only in the depths of the human heart. Astonishing in their diversity and power, they exhibit both the artistry of a major writer at the height of her powers and the humanity of a mature artist confronting the world with her gift of wonder still intact.

The only SF writer to win the National Book Award, not to mention the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy awards, Ursula K. Le Guin has created a profound and transformational literature. These stories range from the everyday to the outer limits of experience, where the quantum uncertainties of space and time are resolved only in the depths of the human heart.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060763510
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/15/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 278,077
  • Lexile: 940L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Ursula K.  Le Guin

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin was born in 1929 in Berkeley, and lives in Portland, Oregon. As of 2014, she has published twenty-one 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 honors and awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, and PEN/Malamud. Her most recent publications are Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems and The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories.


Speculative fiction, magic realism, "slipstream" fiction -- all these terms could apply to the works of Ursula K. Le Guin. Unfortunately, none was in common use when she started writing in the early 1960s. As a young writer, Le Guin weathered seven years of rejections from editors who praised her novels' elegant prose but were puzzled by their content. At a time when the only literary fiction was realistic fiction, as Le Guin later told an interviewer for The Register-Guard in Portland, Oregon, "There just wasn't a pigeonhole for what I write."

At long last, two of her stories were accepted for publication, one at a literary journal and one at a science-fiction magazine. The literary journal paid her in copies of the journal; the science-fiction magazine paid $30. She told The Register-Guard, "I thought: 'Oooohhh! They'll call what I write science fiction, will they? And they'll pay me for it? Well, here we go!' "

Le Guin continued to write and publish stories, but her breakthrough success came with the publication of The Left Hand of Darkness in 1969. The novel, which tells of a human ambassador's encounters with the gender-changing inhabitants of a distant planet, was unusual for science fiction in that it owed more to anthropology and sociology than to the hard sciences of physics or biology. The book was lauded for its intellectual and psychological depth, as well as for its fascinating premise. "What got to me was the quality of the story-telling," wrote Frank Herbert, the author of Dune. "She's taken the mythology, psychology -- the entire creative surround -- and woven it into a jewel of a story."

Since then, Le Guin has published many novels, several volumes of short stories, and numerous poems, essays, translations, and children's books. She's won an arm's-length list of awards, including both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, and a National Book Award for The Farthest Shore. Over the years, she has created and sustained two fictional universes, populating each with dozens of characters and stories. The first universe, Ekumen, more or less fits into the science-fiction mode, with its aliens and interplanetary travel; the second, Earthsea, is a fantasy world, complete with wizards and dragons. As Margaret Atwood wrote in The New York Review of Books, "Either one would have been sufficient to establish Le Guin's reputation as a mistress of its genre; both together make one suspect that the writer has the benefit of arcane drugs or creative double-jointedness or ambidexterity."

More impressive still is the way Le Guin's books have garnered such tremendous crossover appeal. Unlike many writers of science fiction, she is regularly reviewed in mainstream publications, where her work has been praised by the likes of John Updike and Harold Bloom. But then, Le Guin has never fit comfortably into a single genre. As she said in a Science Fiction Weekly interview, "I know that I'm always called 'the sci-fi writer.' Everybody wants to stick me into that one box, while I really live in several boxes. It's probably hurt the sales of my realistic books like Searoad, because it tended to get stuck into science fiction, where browsing readers that didn't read science fiction would never see it."

Le Guin has also published a translation of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching, a book that has influenced her life and writing since she was a teenager; she has translated fiction by Angelica Gorodischer and a volume of poems by Gabriela Mistral; and, perhaps most gratifyingly for her fans, she has returned to the imaginary realm of Earthsea. Tehanu, which appeared in 1990, was subtitled "The Last Book of Earthsea," but Le Guin found she had more to tell, and she continued with Tales from Earthsea and The Other Wind. "I thought after 'Tehanu' the story was finished, but I was wrong," she told Salon interviewer Faith L. Justice. "I've learned never to say 'never.' "

Good To Know

The "K" in Ursula K. Le Guin stands for Le Guin's maiden name, Kroeber. Her father was the anthropologist Alfred Kroeber; her mother, the writer Theodora Kroeber, is best known for the biography Ishi in Two Worlds.

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    1. Hometown:
      Portland, Oregon
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 21, 1929
    2. Place of Birth:
      Berkeley, California
    1. Education:
      B.A., Radcliffe College; M.A., Columbia University, 1952
    2. Website:

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
The First Contact With the Gorgonids 13
Newton's Sleep 23
The Ascent of the North Face 55
The Rock That Changed Things 61
The Kerastion 75
The Shobies' Story 81
Dancing to Ganam 115
Another Story or A Fisherman of the Inland Sea 159
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First Chapter

A Fisherman of the Inland Sea

The First Contact With the Gorgonids

Mrs. Jerry Debree, the heroine of Grong Crossing, liked to look pretty. It was important to Jerry in his business contacts, of course, and also it made her feel more confident and kind of happy to know that her cellophane was recent and her eyelashes really well glued on and that the highlighter blush was bringing out her cheekbones like the nice girl at the counter had said. But it was beginning to be hard to feel fresh and look pretty as this desert kept getting hotter and hotter and redder and redder until it looked, really, almost like what she had always thought the Bad Place would look like, only not so many people. In fact none.

"Could we have passed it, do you think?" she ventured at last, and received without surprise the exasperation she had safety-valved from him: "How the fuck could we have passed it when we haven't passed one fucking thing except those fucking bushes for ninety miles? Christ you're dumb."

Jerry's language was a pity. And sometimes it made it so hard to talk to him. She had had the least little tiny sort of feeling, woman's intuition maybe, that the men that had told him how to get to Grong Crossing were teasing him, having a little joke. He had been talking so loud in the hotel bar about how disappointed he had been with the Corroboree after flying all the way out from Adelaide to see it. He kept comparing it to the Indian dance they had seen at Taos. Actually he had been very bared and restless at Taos and they had had to leave in the middle so he could have a drink and she never had got to see the people with the masks come, but now he talked about how they really knew how to put on a native show in the U.S.A. He said a few scruffy abos jumping around weren't going to give tourists from the real world anything to write home about. The Aussies ought to visit Disney World and find out how to do the real thing, he said.

She agreed with that; she loved Disney World. It was the only thing in Florida, where they had to live now that Jerry was ACEO, that she liked much. One of the Australian men at the bar had seen Disneyland and agreed that it was amazing, or maybe he meant amusing; what he said was amizing. He seemed to be a nice man. Bruce, he said his name was, and his friend's name was Bruce too. "Common sort of name here," he said, only he said nime, but he meant name, she was quite sure. When Jerry went on complaining about the Corroboree, the first Bruce said, "Well, mite, you might go out to Grong Crossing, if you really want to see the real thingright, Bruce?"

At first the other Bruce didn't seem to know what he meant, and that was when her woman's intuition woke up. But pretty soon both Bruces were talking away about this place, Grong Crossing, way out in "the bush," where they were certain to meet real abos really living in the desert. "Near Alice Springs," Jerry said knowledgeably, but it wasn't, they said; it was still farther west from here. They gave directions so precisely that it was clear they knew what they were talking about. "Few hours' drive, that's all," Bruce said, "but y'see most tourists want to keep on the beaten path. This is a bit more on the inside track."

"Bang-up shows," said Bruce. "Nightly Conoborees."

"Hotel any better than this dump?" Jerry asked, and they laughed. No hotel, they explained. "It's like a safari, see-tents under the stars. Never rines," said Bruce.

"Marvelous food, though," Bruce said. "Fresh kangaroo chops. Kangaroo hunts daily, see. Witchetty grubs along with the drinks before dinner. Roughing it in luxury, I'd call it; right, Bruce?"

"Absolutely," said Bruce.

"Friendly, are they, these abos?" Jerry asked.

"Oh, salt of the earth. Treat you like kings. Think white men are sort of gods, y'know," Bruce said. Jerry nodded.

So Jerry wrote down all the directions, and here they were driving and driving in the old station wagon that was all there was to rent in the small town they'd been at for the Corroboree, and by now you only knew the road was a road because it was perfectly straight forever. Jerry had been in a good humor at first. "This'll be something to shove up that bastard Thiel's ass," he said. His friend Thiel was always going to places like Tibet and having wonderful adventures and showing videos of himself with yaks. Jerry had bought a very expensive camcorder for this trip, and now he said, "Going to shoot me some abos. Show that fucking Thiel and his musk-oxes!" But as the morning went on and the road went on and the desert went on-did they call it "the bush" because there was one little thorny bush once a mile or so?-he got hotter and hotter and redder and redder, just like the desert. And she began to feel depressed and like her mascara was caking.

A Fisherman of the Inland Sea
. Copyright © by Ursula Le Guin. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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