Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Wind's Twelve Quarters: Review

If they wish to see death visibly in the world, that is their business, not mine. I will not act Eternity for them. Let them not turn to trees for death. If that is what they want to see, let them look into one another's eyes and see it there. (from "Direction of the Road")

Ursula K. Le Guin is more than a science fiction writer. Yes, her stories have won Hugo and Nebula awards, but she is also the recipient of a number of literary prizes including the National Book Award, the Kafka Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Her complete collection, The Wind's Twelve Quarters (1975), includes "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" which won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1974. Her collection includes introductions to each piece, which describe her experiences and inspirations which influenced each story. I particularly like her introduction to "Omelas" which tells us that the name was inspired by seeing "Salem, Oregon" backwards in her rear view mirror. "[… People ask me] 'Where do you get your ideas from, Ms. Le Guin?' From forgetting Dostoyevsky and reading road signs backwards, naturally. Where else?"

The particular edition I read is The Wind's Twelve Quarters, Vol. 2. It contains eight of the seventeen stories found in the hardback edition. Apparently Granada Publishing wanted to get as much out of the property as they could and divided the paperback edition into two volumes. These stories explore everything from human values and emotions to basic survival to explorations of outer space and the inner man. Le Guin's work is, on the whole, lyrical and provocative. She is hard to classify. Her stories are more speculative than science, though she does use science to advantage when needed.

If all of the stories were as stunning as "The Stars Below," "Direction of the Road," and "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" then this would be a five-star book, no question. "Vaster than Empires and More Slow" and "Field of Vision" are also quite good, though not (for me) as affecting. Many readers also cite "The Day Before the Revolution"--but I found it (even as a short story) long and my attention was easily distracted. I couldn't put the book down on any of the previously mentioned stories. and a half for the entire collection.


The recipient of numerous literary prizes, including the National Book Award, the Kafka Award, and the Pushcart Prize, Ursula K. Le Guin is renowned for her lyrical writing, rich characters, and diverse worlds. The Wind's Twelve Quarters collects seventeen powerful stories, each with an introduction by the author, ranging from fantasy to intriguing scientific concepts, from medieval settings to the future. Including an insightful foreword by Le Guin, describing her experience, her inspirations, and her approach to writing, this stunning collection explores human values, relationships, and survival, and showcases the myriad talents of one of the most provocative writers of our time. - See more at: http://www.buffalolib.org/vufind/Record/19385/Reviews#sthash.huves7Xd.dpuf
The recipient of numerous literary prizes, including the National Book Award, the Kafka Award, and the Pushcart Prize, Ursula K. Le Guin is renowned for her lyrical writing, rich characters, and diverse worlds. The Wind's Twelve Quarters collects seventeen powerful stories, each with an introduction by the author, ranging from fantasy to intriguing scientific concepts, from medieval settings to the future. Including an insightful foreword by Le Guin, describing her experience, her inspirations, and her approach to writing, this stunning collection explores human values, relationships, and survival, and showcases the myriad talents of one of the most provocative writers of our time. - See more at: http://www.buffalolib.org/vufind/Record/19385/Reviews#sthash.huves7Xd.dpuf
The recipient of numerous literary prizes, including the National Book Award, the Kafka Award, and the Pushcart Prize, Ursula K. Le Guin is renowned for her lyrical writing, rich characters, and diverse worlds. The Wind's Twelve Quarters collects seventeen powerful stories, each with an introduction by the author, ranging from fantasy to intriguing scientific concepts, from medieval settings to the future. Including an insightful foreword by Le Guin, describing her experience, her inspirations, and her approach to writing, this stunning collection explores human values, relationships, and survival, and showcases the myriad talents of one of the most provocative writers of our time. - See more at: http://www.buffalolib.org/vufind/Record/19385/Reviews#sthash.huves7Xd.dpuf

2 comments:

fredamans said...

I am into the cover, kinda weird, but not sure I'd get into the book. Not a big sci-fi fan here. Glad it was alright for you! Great review!

bloodymurder said...

I loved WIZARD OF EARTHSEA when I read it in my twenties and really should go back to LeGuin as it is the only one of hers that I can remember having read - thansk Bev.