Four Ways to Forgiveness (Hainish Series)

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In a world where all humankind is divided into "assets" and "owners," where tradition and liberation are at war, and women are the slaves of slaves, freedom takes many forms. It can be learning. It can be love. It can be compassion, or courage. It can be created with a touch, or killed with a blow. Though it may seem small, it is the key that opens the great door to understanding. It is the one noble thing. In this stunning new collection of four intimately interconnected novellas, linked by character and ...
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Overview

In a world where all humankind is divided into "assets" and "owners," where tradition and liberation are at war, and women are the slaves of slaves, freedom takes many forms. It can be learning. It can be love. It can be compassion, or courage. It can be created with a touch, or killed with a blow. Though it may seem small, it is the key that opens the great door to understanding. It is the one noble thing. In this stunning new collection of four intimately interconnected novellas, linked by character and setting, Ursula K. Le Guin returns to the great themes that have made her one of America's most honored and respected authors, in or out of the field of science fiction.

In this new collection of four intimately interconnected novellas, Ursula K. Le Guin returns to the great themes that have made her one of America's best science fiction authors. Here is a society as complex and as troubled as any on our world, peopled with characters struggling to become fully human. Named "Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Most of Le Guin's recent fiction divides into collections of stories bound by theme, such as Searoad, or novels such as the Nebula Award-winning Tehanu, in which the author has revisited worlds she created decades before. This volume is a hybrid: a theme collection featuring the Hainish culture that informed, among other works, Le Guin's celebrated The Left Hand of Darkness. The four interrelated novellas presented here deal with the quest to achieve true liberation on the planets Werel and Yeowe (which are detailed in extensive endnotes). Le Guin focuses on the situation of women, who remain in a subservient position even after civil and interplanetary wars have provided ``freedom for all men.'' Both sexes are treated with more balance here than in Searoad: the women are occasionally ignoble, while the men are shown in complex, but generally positive, lights. Each of these stories is mindful that achieving ``the one noble thing'' requires a mutual respect between the sexes. In contrast to the stridency of Searoad, Le Guin has muted her tone here, achieving both greater resonance and power as she offers an accessible, educational and ecumenical look at the interrelationship among love, freedom and forgiveness. (Sept.)
Library Journal
The latest work by one of sf's most gifted and perceptive writers offers four connected novellas (previously published in periodicals) that explore the hidden territories of the human heart.
School Library Journal
YA-"Hold fast to the one noble thing." LeGuin skillfully weaves this theme throughout the four novellas. Fraught with warring factions of "assets" and "owners," this book is more philosophical than it is futuristic. Although the planets of Werel and Yeowe are more technologically advanced than our Earth of today, the complex issues involving race relations, sexism, and class divisions mirror those of our own culture. Corrupt politicians, runaway slaves, proud military leaders, and naive foreign emissaries struggle to maintain their humanity in a seemingly hopeless world. By the end of each of the novellas, the main characters gain some peace of mind and have somehow changed the world (if only minutely) for the better. For YAs who have ever felt "closed in" by society or their parents, LeGuin's book is a wonderful choice, particularly for female readers as most of the characters are women and the focus is on women's rights. While describing the deleterious effects of civil war, the author conveys understanding as well as a sense of self-importance. Notes and history of the two planets are appended.-Ginger Armstrong, Chesterfield County Public Library, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061054013
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/1/1996
  • Series: Hainish Series
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.76 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Ursula K.  Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin is the author of more than one hundred short stories, two collections of essays, four volumes of poetry, and nineteen novels. Her best-known fantasy works, the Earthsea books, have sold millions of copies in America and England, and have been translated into sixteen languages. Her first major work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness, is considered epochmaking in the field because of its radical investigation of gender roles and its moral and literary complexity.

Three of Le Guin's books have been finalists for the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and among the many honors her writing has received are the National Book Award, five Hugo Awards, five Nebula Awards, the Kafka Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and the Harold D. Vursell Award of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Biography

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

Betrayals 1
Forgiveness Day 35
A Man of the People 93
A Woman's Liberation 145
Notes on Werel and Yeowe 209
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