- Paperback: 370 pages
- Publisher: St Martin's Press; 1st Orb Ed edition (3 Feb. 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312862113
- ISBN-13: 978-0312862114
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.2 x 21.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 252,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Worlds of Exile and Illusion Paperback – 3 Feb 2007
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More About the Author
The author's first three novels--City of Illusions, Rocannon's World, and Planet of Exile--are included in an omnibus edition, all set in the same universe as The Left Hand of Darkness, as her characters battle forces in society that seek to tear them apart. Reprint.
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Top Customer Reviews
City of Illusions in the last in Ekumen chronology, after the Ekumen has been destroyed. It is about the rediscovery of Earth by two men from a far planet - one of whom is mind-wiped and dumped in the forest by the Shing. The Shing are aliens who have conquered or destroyed the Ekumen because of their ability to lie telepathically.
The Exile novella is the direct predecessor to City of Illusions - about an Ekumen settlement that gets cut off and learns to make common cause with the local people, finally uniting with them.
The unifying factor in these three stories is telepathy - or 'bespeaking', as Le Guin puts it. Rocannon's World introduces telepathy to humanity, and City of Illusions studies the effects of an alien race that are able to exploit it. Like the Old Tongue in the Earthsea quartet, Bespeaking binds a human to the truth. Like the dragons in Earthsea, the Shing are able to misuse it - with the 'mindlie'.
None of these stories reach the visionary level of the Left Hand of Darkness, which should still be seen as one of the masterpieces of SF. Rocannon's World is a journey-adventure which begins with a powerfully evocative demythology of a Rip-van-Winkel type story, entitled 'Semley's Necklace'. It finishes with one of the finest endings in SF, which still brings a tear to my eye.
Planet of Exile is a slighter work. It's better than 'the Word for World is Forest', but not up to the level Rocannon's World. It forms a pleasing introduction to City of Illusions.
City of Illusions is the main work in this collection.Read more ›
It's pointless to discuss the various plots - if you've read LeGuin before (dispossed, Lathe of Heavan, Left Hand of Darkness) then you are in for a treat. In these three short novellas she is at the height of her powers - combining breathtaking science fiction and minute and sympathetic examanination of the human condition (albeit through the prism of a world based in the future).
Each of the stories is excellent in its own way, and heightened by the underlying theme of subervsion of a future terran civilisation.
But for my money, the final story - City of Illusions - is without any doubt the best sci fi short story LeGuin has ever written.
Get this book, lock yourself away for a day or two and enjoy you will not be able to put it down !
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
My hesitation was misplaced. These stories bring LeGuin's anthropologist's eye; deft hand for character; and talent to create unknown, fully detailed worlds together as well as any of her other novels. The opener, Rocannon's World, shows what happens when an anthropological expedition to a new planet gets tangled in bureaucracy before going suddenly wrong. Planet in Exile, set 600 years later, follows a tale of two cultures - one alien, one human - forced to meld into one. Finally, World of Illusion closes the circle, showing us the final confrontation between humankind and the mysterious race variously known as the Shing, the Lords of Es Toch, the Enemy, and the Liars of Earth.
Like all LeGuin's work, the thrill-ride is subtle; some of the themes hit you late, sort of like the heat from a chipotle pepper that's been simmering in soup for a couple hours. The reward of reading LeGuin is a pleasure not to be missed and I'd recommend this book for any SF fan.
Second, as an anthropologist, I feel that these novels lack the deep understanding of anthropological fieldwork and the stunning ability to create believable non-Terran societies that characterize her later work, in particular The Left Hand of Darkness, The Telling, and many of her short story collections. These novels are much closer to traditional SF, strong on action and conflict. The "enemies" in Rocannon's World (the Faradayan rebels) and Planet of Exile (the Gaal) are barely sketched, and even in City of Illusions the Shing are portrayed as simply evil; this is very different from the subtle, complex descriptions of Orgoreyn in The Left Hand of Darkness or the Monitor in The Telling.
These novels are "good reads" for those who like traditional SF, and fascinating as precursors to her later work, but to really appreciate LeGuin's genius, read her later work.
While Planet of Exile doesn't have the depth or complexity of her best work, this is a grand, mythic story of love and death; fear of the stranger, and the sad consequences; a bitter battle to save one's home; the joys and ashes of victory. And the grey, grinding cold of Great Winter: 5,000-some days of darkness, cold and ice (UKL does winters really well). Strong stuff. My God, this was her apprentice work!
The rest of Rocannon's World, after "Semley's Necklace", isn't up to Rocannon's World, but is very readable. I haven't reread City of Illusions recently, but recall enjoying it way back then.
The review you should read is Jo Walton's -- link at first comment. One of her better ones.
Peter D. Tillman