Home Literature Stories Movies Games Comics Blogs News Discussion Forum Art Gallery
  Science Fiction and Fantasy News
Esslemont's Stonewielder Prologue and Cover (07-26)
Deals and Deliveries (9!!!) (09-12)
Iron Man: Femmes Fatales by Robert Greenberger (09-12)
Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead by Steve Pe (09-12)

Official sffworld Reviews
Big Time, The by Fritz Leiber (05-29 - Book)
Rogue Clone by Steven L. Kent (05-25 - Book)
The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig (05-21 - Book)
The Wisdom of the Shire by Noble Smith (05-17 - Book)


Author

Site Index

Book Info    Bookmark and Share

The Birthday of the World: and Other Stories by Ursula K. Le Guin

  (7 ratings)

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

Rating (7 ratings)
Rate this book
(5 best - 1 worst)
 
Book Information  
AuthorUrsula K. Le Guin
TitleThe Birthday of the World: and Other Stories
Series
Volume0
YearUnknown
GenreScience Fiction
 
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
 
Submitted by Archren 
(Aug 09, 2006)

Short story collection can often be hit-or-miss. I’ve always had better luck with single-author collections, and this one proves the rule. “The Birhday of the World” is a collection of 7 short stories and one novella. None of them are bad and a couple of them particularly stood out. The introduction by LeGuin is fun and interesting, although a little world-weary. One can only imagine how many essays of this type she’s written in her over forty-year career of brilliance anthologized.

All of these stories except the last two deal with sex and gender in ways similar to her “The Left Hand of Darkness” novel. The first one deals with that planet specifically. As LeGuin puts it, “This time I didn’t have a damned plot. I could ask questions. I could see how the sex works. I could finally get into a kemmerhouse. I could really have fun.” It simply follows the coming of age of one individual, nothing more or less profound. It’s beautifully written, but even more explicit than the book. In fact, throughout the collection if you have a problem with explicit sex between many types of partners, you should probably look elsewhere (although you’ll be missing some brilliant writing).

The next story deals with gender inversion, a planet where men are born in much smaller numbers than women. They’re cosseted and hidden away “for their own good.” The brilliant part of this story is not the idea, although it’s well done; it is that LeGuin examines it from multiple perspectives by providing “excerpts” from many sources: interviews, academic researchers, native fiction. It gives a wonderful range of perspectives on the issue.

Then there are two stories based on a planet where relationships are determined by gender and “moiety.” You’re either male or female and you’re either morning or evening. Each marriage is formed of a morning woman, a morning man, an evening woman and an evening man. You have sex only with people of the opposite moiety (if you’re a morning woman you would have sex with both the evening man and woman). As one character points out: “It sounds complicated, but what marriage isn’t?”

Of the remaining stories some deal with sex and others with class and race. My personal favorite is the title story, “The Birthday of the World.” We’re all familiar with the familiar SF plotline: explorers come to a new planet and are worshipped as gods. Well what was going on down on the planet before they got there? This tells that story from the perspective of the natives, and they’re far from stupid. They’ve got their own domestic political concerns that influence their reactions. It also goes into the consequences of having new and ignorant gods running around, and they’re different than you might think.

As I said, there isn’t a bad one in the bunch. The racial inversion story (where the whites are the slaves) is possibly the least impressive (certainly the idea doesn’t seem so fresh), but is beautifully written and humanized. Overall you can read LeGuin’s writing both for the amazing and unique ideas pushing the edges of gender, and for her truly beautiful writing. I’d only read her novels previous to this, but I will seek out some of her other collections now that I’ve read this.




Sponsor ads

 

Latest

The Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now First Novel Prize!
05-31 - News
Stephen King's Joyland UK Promotion
05-30 - News
UK Publisher of Stephen King’s New Novel Unusual Promotion
05-30 - News
Big Time, The by Fritz Leiber
05-29 - Book Review
Rogue Clone by Steven L. Kent
05-25 - Book Review
The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig
05-21 - Book Review
The Wisdom of the Shire by Noble Smith
05-17 - Book Review

05-10 - News
The Tyrant's Law by Daniel Abraham
05-04 - Book Review
Galaxy's Edge 1 by Mike Resnick
04-28 - Book Review
Poison by Sarah Pinborough
04-21 - Book Review
Bullington, Beukes and Bacigalupi event
04-19 - News
The City by Stella Gemmell
04-17 - Book Review
Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan
04-15 - Book Review
Tarnished Knight by Jack Campbell
04-09 - Book Review
Frank Hampson: Tomorrow Revisited by Alastair Crompton
04-07 - Book Review
The Forever Knight by John Marco
04-01 - Book Review
Book of Sith - Secrets from the Dark Side by Daniel Wallace
03-31 - Book Review
NOS4R2 by Joe Hill
03-25 - Book Review
Fade to Black by Francis Knight
03-13 - Book Review
The Clone Republic by Steven L. Kent
03-12 - Book Review
The Burn Zone by James K. Decker
03-06 - Book Review
A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz
03-04 - Book Review
Blood's Pride by Evie Manieri
02-28 - Book Review
Excerpt: River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay
02-27 - Article
Tales of Majipoor by Robert Silverberg
02-24 - Book Review
American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett
02-20 - Book Review
Evie Manieri Guest Post
02-19 - Article
The Grim Company by Luke Scull
02-17 - Book Review
Red Planet by Robert A. Heinlein
02-11 - Book Review

New Forum Posts




About - Advertising - Contact us - RSS - For Authors & Publishers - Contribute / Submit - Privacy Policy - Community Login
Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use. The contents of this webpage are copyright © 1997-2011 sffworld.com. All Rights Reserved.