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Ursula K. Le Guin
Harcourt, 341 pages

Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin was born in 1929, the daughter of a writer and an anthropologist. She published her first novel, Rocannon's World, in 1966. Her fourth novel, The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) won both the Hugo and Nebula awards, a feat she repeated with The Dispossessed (1974). The Earthsea trilogy established her as a master of fantasy as well as science fiction. She has also published poetry and short story collections, and she received the Pilgrim Award in 1989 for her critical writings.

Ursula K. Le Guin Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Voices
SF Site Review: Gifts
SF Site Review: Gifts
SF Site Review: The Lathe of Heaven
SF Site Review: Tales from Earthsea
SF Site Review: The Telling
SF Site Interview: Ursula K. Le Guin
SF Site Review: The Other Wind
SF Site Review: The Telling
SF Site Review: The Dispossessed

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alma A. Hromic

Voices I've always thought that Ursula K. Le Guin possessed an almost preternatural ability to see through the masks and artifices of sentient beings (and I deliberately don't use the word "humans" there, because it transcends that) and come up with the kind of painfully honest stories which resonate precisely because their readers feel as though the author has articulated all their own fears and joys and dramas, big and small, which shape their lives.

She is particularly adept at doing this for young protagonists, with a wonderful empathy of what it means to be growing up and growing wiser, especially when it comes to surviving in circumstances which are less than congenial.

For myself, I can hardly imagine a world which would come closer to Hell than a world in which, as the chilling back-blurb of Voices has it, "...the conquerors [of this city] consider reading and writing to be acts punishable by death." Plunging a young heroine into this terrifying milieu, Le Guin uses the passions and fears and the waking wonder of the girl called Memer to shape a story which wakes the wonder in her readers, too -- and in some ways rouses us all to stand up against horror and oppression by seeking out the power and the responsibility of knowledge and understanding. Voices is published as a YA book, by Harcourt Children's Books, but like so much of Le Guin's work it is unlikely to stay in the province of the younger readers. The experiences of growing and learning are not, after all, the sole province of the young -- for those of us who have a bent to learn, learning continues all our lives, and it is this that Ursula K. Le Guin understands and nurtures in her readers through her luminous novels.

In Voices, it is words… books… that are presented as liberators, as things that set us free. For that reason alone, being a writer myself, I treasure this story. The fact that it was penned by Ursula K. Le Guin and infused by her own peculiar brand of magic is a bonus. It might, for some readers, be helpful to have read the novel Gifts before setting out into the world of Voices -- but it is by no means essential. This one's a keeper.

Copyright © 2007 Alma A. Hromic

Alma A. Hromic, addicted (in random order) to coffee, chocolate and books, has a constant and chronic problem of "too many books, not enough bookshelves." When not collecting more books and avidly reading them (with a cup of coffee at hand), she keeps busy writing her own. Her international success, The Secrets of Jin Shei, has been translated into ten languages worldwide, and its follow-up, Embers of Heaven, is coming out in 2006. She is also the author of the fantasy duology The Hidden Queen and Changer of Days, and is currently working on a new YA trilogy to be released in the winter of 2006.

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