Wind's Twelve Quarters

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Overview

"Ursula K. Le Guin is renowned for her lyrical writing, rich characters, and diverse worlds. The Wind's Twelve Quarters collects seventeen stories, each with an introduction by the author, ranging from fantasy to intriguing scientific concepts, from medieval settings to the future." Including a foreword by Le Guin, describing her experience, her inspirations, and her approach to writing, this collection explores human values, relationships, and survival, and showcases the myriad talents of one of the most provocative writers of our time.
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Overview

"Ursula K. Le Guin is renowned for her lyrical writing, rich characters, and diverse worlds. The Wind's Twelve Quarters collects seventeen stories, each with an introduction by the author, ranging from fantasy to intriguing scientific concepts, from medieval settings to the future." Including a foreword by Le Guin, describing her experience, her inspirations, and her approach to writing, this collection explores human values, relationships, and survival, and showcases the myriad talents of one of the most provocative writers of our time.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061056055
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/2/1995
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: REISSUE
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.01 (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.

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:

Read an Excerpt

The Wind's Twelve Quarters

Stories
By Le Guin, Ursula K.

Perennial

ISBN: 0060914343

Semeley's Necklace

This story, written in 1963, published as "Dowry of the Angyar" in 1964 and as the Prologue of my first novel, Rocannon's World, in 1966, was actually the eighth story I got printed; but it opens the book because I think it's the most characteristic of my early science fiction and fantasy works, the most romantic of them all. The progress of my style has been away from open romanticism, slowly and steadily, from this story to the last one in the volume, written in 1972. It has been a progress. I am still a romantic, no doubt about that, and glad of it, but the candor and simplicity of "Semley's Necklace" have gradually become something harder, stronger, and more complex.

How can you tell the legend from the fact on these worlds that lie so many years away? -- planets without names, called by their people simply The World, planets without history, where the past is the matter of myth, and a returning explorer finds his own doings of a few years back have become the gestures of a god. Unreason darkens that gap of time bridged by our lightspeed ships, and in the darkness uncertainty and disproportion grow like weeds.

In trying to tell the story of a man, an ordinary League scientist, who went to such a nameless half-known world not many years ago, one feels like an archaeologist amid millennial ruins, now struggling throughchoked tangles of leaf, flower, branch and vine to the sudden bright geometry of a wheel or a polished cornerstone, and now entering some commonplace, sunlit doorway to find inside it the darkness, the impossible flicker of a flame, the glitter of a jewel, the half-glimpsed movement of a woman's arm.

How can you tell fact from legend, truth from truth?

Through Rocannon's story the jewel, the blue glitter seen briefly, returns. With it let us begin, here:

Galactic Area 8, No. 62: FOMALHAUT II. High-Intelligence Life Forms: Species Contacted: Species I.

A. Gdcmiar (singular Gdem): Highly intelligent, fully hominoid nocturnal troglodytes, 120-135 cm. in height, light skin, dark head-hair. When contacted these cave-dwellers possessed a rigidly stratified oligarchic urban society modified by partial colonial telepathy, and a technologically oriented Early Steel culture. Technology enhanced to Industrial, Point C, during League Mission of 252-254. In 254 an Automatic Drive ship (to-from New South Georgia) was presented to oligarchs of the Kiriensea Area community. Status C-Prime.

B. Fiia (singular Fian): Highly intelligent, fully hominoid, diurnal, av. Ca. 130 cm. in height, observed individuals generally light in skin and hair. Brief contacts indicated village and nomadic communal societies, partial colonial telepathy, also some indication of short-range TX The race appears a-technological and evasive, with minimal and fluid culture-patterns. Currently untaxable. Status E-Query.

Species II.

Liuar (singular Liv): Highly intelligent, fully hominoid, diurnal, av. height above 170 cm., this species possesses a fortress/village, clan-descent society, a blocked technology (Bronze), and feudal-heroic culture. Note horizontal social cleavage into 2 pseudo-races: (a) Olgyior, "midmen," light-skinned and darkhaired; (b) Angyar, "lords," very tall, dark-skinned, yellowhaired --

"That's her," said Rocannon, looking up from the Abridged Handy Pocket Guide to Intelligent Life-forms at the very tall, dark-skinned, yellow-haired woman who stood halfway down the long museum hail. She stood still and erect, crowned with bright hair, gazing at something in a display case. Around her fidgeted four uneasy and unattractive dwarves.

"I didn't know Fomaihaut II had all those people besides the trogs," said Ketho, the curator.

"I didn't either. There are even some 'Unconfirmed' species listed here, that they never contacted. Sounds like time for a more thorough survey mission to the place. Well, now at least we know what she is."

"I wish there were some way of knowing who she is ...


She was of an ancient family, a descendant of the first kings of the Angyar, and for all her poverty her hair shone with the pure, steadfast gold of her inheritance. The little people, the Fiia, bowed when she passed them, even when she was a barefoot child running in the fields, the light and fiery comet of her hair brightening the troubled winds of Kirien.

She was still very young when Durhal of Hallan saw her, courted her, and carried her away from the ruined towers and windy halls of her childhood to his own high home. In Hallan on the mountainside there was no comfort either, though splendor endured ... Continues...


Excerpted from The Wind's Twelve Quarters by Le Guin, Ursula K. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Semley's necklace 1
April in Paris 25
The masters 40
Darkness box 60
The word of unbinding 71
The rule of names 80
Winter's king 93
The good trip 118
Nice lives 129
Things 161
A trip to the head 173
Vaster than empires and more slow 181
The stars below 218
The field of vision 242
Direction of the road 267
The ones who walk away from Omelas 275
The day before the revolution 285
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