City of Illusions

City of Illusions is a 1967 science fiction novel by American writer Ursula K. Le Guin. It is set on Earth in the distant future, and is part of her Hainish Cycle. City of Illusions lays the foundation for the Hainish cycle which is a fictional world in which the majority of Ursula K. Le Guin's science fiction novels take place.[1]

City of Illusions
Cover of first edition (paperback)
AuthorUrsula K. Le Guin
Cover artistJack Gaughan
CountryUnited States
SeriesHainish Cycle
GenreScience fiction
PublisherAce Books
Publication date
Media typePrint (Paperback)
Preceded byPlanet of Exile (1966) 
Followed byThe Left Hand of Darkness (1969) 

Plot introduction

City of Illusions takes place on Earth, also known as Terra, in the future, twelve hundred years after an enemy named the Shing has broken the power of the League of All Worlds and occupied Earth. The indigenous people of Earth have been reduced in numbers and are widely separated and live in highly independent rural communes or nomadic tribal societies. The Shing exercise control over these people by using various strategies of indirect control which include divide and rule as well as deceptive telepathic mental control also known as mind-lying. In contrast, innately truthful telepathy is known as mindspeech.

Prior to the opening scene, the main character, who is a descendant of the protagonists in Planet of Exile, has been involved in a ship crash, and since the Shing do not believe in killing, has had his memory erased and been abandoned in the forest; this leaves his mind as a blank slate or tabula rasa. As the story begins he must develop a new self-identity ex nihilo.

Plot summary

The Man Without Memory

The story starts as a man is found by a small community (housed in one building) in a forest area in eastern North America. He is naked except for a gold ring on one finger, has no memory except of motor skills at a level equivalent to that of a one-year-old and has bizarre, amber, cat-like eyes. The villagers choose to welcome and nurture him, naming him Falk (Yellow). They teach him to speak, educate him about the Earth, and teach him from a book they consider holy, which is Le Guin's "long-translated" version of the Tao Te Ching.[2] Also they teach him about the nature of the never-seen Shing.

The Journey

After six years, Falk is told by the leader of the community that he needs to understand his origins, and therefore sets off alone for Es Toch, the city of the Shing in the mountains of western North America. He encounters many obstacles to learning the truth about himself and about the Shing, along with evidence of the barbarism of current human society. Along the way, it is sometimes put to him that the image he holds of the Shing is a distorted one; that they respect the idea of 'reverence for life' and are essentially benevolent and non-alien rulers. This suggestion comes from Estrel, a young woman whom Falk meets after being captured by the Basnasska tribe in the great plains. Falk escapes this violent community with Estrel, to reach the city under her guidance. In the course of his journey Falk also encounters Shing-bred talking birds and animals who plead reverence for life in self-defense.

The Shing

Falk finally reaches Es Toch, where Estrel betrays him into the hands of the Shing and laughs as she does so. He is told that he is part of the crew of a starship of alien/human hybrids from a planet called Werel. He meets a young man, Orry, who came with him in the ship. At this point it becomes clear that Estrel is a human collaborator working for the Shing, and that she had been sent to retrieve him from the wilds of the so-called Continent 1.

The Shing tell Falk that

  • they are in fact humans;
  • the conflict between the League and an alien invader never occurred: on the contrary, the League self-destructed through civil war and exploitation;
  • the "enemy" is an invention of the Shing rulers themselves to try to ensure through fear that world peace endures under their benevolent, if misunderstood, rule;
  • Falk's expedition was attacked by rebels who then erased Falk's memory of his previous self; and
  • The Shing, who managed to save only Orry from the rebel attack, now want to restore Falk's previous identity.

Falk however believes that the Shing are non-human liars and that their true intent is to determine for their own purposes the location of his home planet.

Restored Memories

Seeing no other way forward, Falk consents to have his memory erased. The mind of the original Werelian, Agad Ramarren, is restored and the Falk personality is apparently destroyed. He emerges as a new person with pre-Falk memories and vastly greater scientific knowledge. Ramarren's first name, Agad, recalls Jakob Agat, one of the chief protagonists of Planet of Exile, of whom he is a descendant. However, thanks to a memory triggering mnemonic device that Falk had left for himself (an instruction, through young Orry, to read the beginning of the book he travels with, his translation of the Tao Te Ching), the Falk personality is revived. After some instability Falk's and Ramarren's minds come to coexist. By comparing the knowledge given to them before and after Ramarren's re-emergence, the joint minds are able to detect the essential dishonesty of the Shing's rule and the fact that the alien conquerors can lie telepathically. It was this power that had enabled the not very numerous Shing: "exiles or pirates or empire-builders from some distant star", to overthrow the League of All Worlds twelve centuries before.

The Werelians' mental powers are significantly greater than those of their human ancestors; thus they are capable of recognizing the Shing mindlie, and cannot be overthrown in the same manner as the League. The Shing are inhibited by a cultural dread of killing or being killed and would have no effective defense against any expedition that came armed and forewarned. Still ignorant of the survival of the Falk persona, the Shing hope to send Ramarren back to Werel to present their version of Earth as a happy garden-planet prospering under their benign guidance and in no need of outside help. Falk/Ramarren, now fully aware of the brutalized and misruled reality, pretends to accept this, postponing the return journey.

Eventually, while on a pleasure trip to view another part of the Earth, his Shing escort (Ken Kenyek) takes telepathic control of Ramarren but is then overcome by Falk, operating as a separate person. Now controlling Ken Kenyek, Falk/Ramarren makes his escape, manipulating his prisoner to find a light-speed ship that can take him home, and how to program it. (He discovers here that the Shing use a totally alien system of mathematics, quite different from the Cetian mathematics used by all human worlds.) Falk/Ramarren leaves for his planet of origin, taking Orry and the captive Ken Kenyek with him so that each can present their perception of Shing rule over Terra. The strong military culture and advanced technology of the Werelian colonists mean that Earth can probably be liberated "at a blow". However the light-years of travel required mean that Falk's forest friends will be long dead when he returns.

While City of Illusions concludes at this point, Falk/Ramarren's mission apparently succeeds in bringing freedom to the home world of Terra.[3] In The Left Hand of Darkness, Genly Ai comes from Earth and remembers the 'Age of the Enemy' as something dreadful but now past. He also knows of the Werelians, now called Alterrans. The fate of the Shing is not mentioned, either there or in any later book.


  • All-Alonio: A solitary, yet profound man who shelters Falk and gives him a "slider," or flying machine. He provides Falk with oblique but pertinent guidance, most notably that the Shing are few in number and rule through lies and illusion.
  • Estrel: Portrayed as Falk's ally and lover, Estrel is later shown to be a human agent of the Shing tasked with bringing him to Es Toch convinced of the beneficial nature of their rule. She wears a necklace which appears to have religious significance, but is actually a communication device. Estrel eventually suffers a psychotic break-down,[4] attempts to kill Falk and suffers an unknown fate at the hands of the Shing.
  • Falk: A middle aged man who is the protagonist of the story; he appears to suffer from amnesia. As Ramarren he was navigator of the Werel expedition to Earth. As Ramarren/Falk he comes to possess the skills, knowledge and character traits of both individuals.
  • Har Orry: A youth raised and largely brain-washed by the Shing. Other than Falk he is the only known survivor of the Werel expedition, two of whom were his parents. Like Estrel he is used by the Shing to convince Falk of their benign purposes. Passive and easily dominated he still shows traces of his childhood in a disciplined and hierarchical society.
  • Ken Kenyek: A Shing mindhandler and scientist, who together with fellow Lords Abundibot and Kradgy, attempts to deceive and manipulate Falk. These are the only characters in the book who are identified as being Shing. Ken Kenyek appears as a detached and analytical figure, lacking the more sinister traits of his two fellow aliens.
  • Parth: A young human woman of the Forest People, who helps re-educate Falk and becomes his lover. She farewells him, knowing that he will not return in her lifetime.
  • Prince of Kansas: An elderly man who, without force, leads a sophisticated enclave of approximately 200 people living in the wilderness. He is in possession of luxuries such as a great library, domesticated dogs (otherwise extinct in this era), and a complex patterning frame that he uses to foretell Falk's future. His miniature society appears benign but eccentric - setting off fire-crackers to repulse occasional Shing "air-cars" as they fly indifferently overhead.
  • Zove: A father-figure of a family of Forest People whose teaching-by-paradox methods closely resemble those of the sage Laozi.[5]

Publication history

City of Illusions is Le Guin's first novel to appear as an independent paperback, unlike her earlier novels which appeared in the tête-bêche format. City of Illusions was initially published with no introduction, but Le Guin wrote an introduction for Harper & Row's 1978 hardcover edition. City of Illusions was reissued along with Rocannon's World and Planet of Exile in a 1978 omnibus volume titled Three Hainish Novels, and again in 1996 with the same novels in Worlds of Exile and Illusion.[6]

Literary significance and criticism


City of Illusions, like its two preceding Hainish novels, received little critical attention when it was published. Subsequently, it has not received as much critical attention as many of Le Guin's other works.[7]

In terms of its place in the development of the canon of science fiction, it has been noted that City of Illusions combines the sensibility of traditional British Science Fiction, images from American genre Science Fiction and anthropological ideas.[8]

Susan Wood, regarding the initial Hainish trilogy as a whole, notes that "innovative and entertaining fictions develop on the solid conceptual basis of human values affirmed"[9] She goes on to point out that philosophical speculation is the most important element of the novel.[10] Dena C. Bain points out that City of Illusions, like Le Guin's novels The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, is permeated with a "Taoist mythos".[11]

One science fiction scholar points out that City of Illusions, along with Rocannon's World and Planet of Exile exhibits Le Guin's struggle as an emerging writer to arrive at a plausible, uniquely memorable and straightforward locale for her stories.[12]

The author herself makes several comments about City of Illusions in her introduction to the 1978 hardback edition. Le Guin was excited to use her own translation of the Tao Te Ching. She was also interested in using physical and mental forests in the novel, and in imagining a less populated world, while still holding some type of civilization as a worthwhile, lofty ideal. Specifically she regrets the improbable and flawed depiction of the villains, the Shing, as not convincingly evil.[2]


Defining and questioning the truth is the central issue of City of Illusions, which holds its roots in the always-truthful "mindspeech" introduced in Planet of Exile and the Shing's ambiguous variation on it, called the "mindlie".[5]

Correspondingly, themes of illusion and ambiguity are central to the novel. The story is as much a post industrial-collapse science fiction tale as it is a mystery tale. It starts with a man with no memory, and with eyes whose appearance suggests he is not human, raising questions as to his true nature: is he human or alien, and is he a tool or a victim of the alien enemy, the Shing. The Shing's nature itself eventually comes into question through his journey. The theme of illusion and ambiguity is present throughout the book - both in terms of behavior (the main female character is initially a friend, then a betrayer and ultimately may be both) and even physical environment (the city Es Toch is a shimmering facade of visual deceptions).[13]

Douglas Barbour points out that light/dark imagery is in an important and common thread that runs through Le Guin's initial Hainish trilogy, tying in closely with Taoism in the Tao-te ching, a book that has special meaning to the main character. Specifically in City of Illusions the main character's story begins and ends in darkness, and among many other similar images, the city of Es Toch is described as a place of awful darkness and bright lights.[13]

Although Le Guin based the location of Es Toch on the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park,[14] James W. Bittner points out that the city, like many of Le Guin's imaginary landscapes, is both an image and a symbol with underlying psychological value and meaning, in this case an underlying chasm.[15] Susan Wood furthers this notion pointing out the city is "built across a chasm in the ground, a hollow place."[16]

Charlotte Spivack points out that City of Illusions includes Le Guin's focus on the concept of contrasts, in particular the need for reconciliation of opposites, a concept related to Taoism, that must take place in Falk's divided mind.[17]

One notable theme of City of Illusions is that of isolation and separation, with the story focusing heavily on one character who does not connect well with other characters.[18]

A minor theme of exploring an oppressive male-dominated culture is present, represented by the misogynistic Bee-Keepers.[19]

It has been suggested that the novel also explores theme of anarchism in the original village and its neighbors, which display communal living.


The patterning frame, a device which Falk encounters twice, is notable. He first sees a simple one at Zove's house and then later a more complex one that belongs to the Prince of Kansas. The device uses moveable stones on crossing wires as a representation of the physical world; its use as a fortune-telling device, computer, toy, or mystical implement is vague. Scholars have noted that it is a foreshadowing device and used to attain a coexistence of the past, present and future, a notable aspect of Taoism.[9][20]

It has been suggested that the book The Old Canon, the book of the Way, the Tao Te Ching, has talismanic properties in the narrative. As a mere object it is an inspiring book; Falk is given a luxurious copy by Zove before he sets out on his travels. After Falk loses this copy, the Prince of Kansas gives him a replacement from his vast library.

Its first page is the mnemonic trigger that Falk uses to restore his memories and personality to his and Ramarren's shared mind after it is erased by the Shing (see above).


  1. ^ Bernardo, Susan M. & Murphy, Graham J. Ursula K. Le Guin: A Critical Companion, (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2006), pages 18-19.
  2. ^ a b Le Guin, Ursula K. City of Illusions Introduction, (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1978), page vii.
  3. ^ Wood, Susan, "Discovering Worlds: The Fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin" published in Ursula K. Le Guin (Modern Critical Views), ed. Harold Bloom, (New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986) page 190.
  4. ^ Michelle K. Yost (2013-02-17). "A 'Fatal lack of risk': Le Guin's Early Conservative Plot and Gender Tropes | A Study of the Hollow Earth". Retrieved 2015-12-16.
  5. ^ a b Bain, Dena C., "The Tao Te Ching as Background to the Novels of Ursula K. Le Guin" published in Ursula K. Le Guin (Modern Critical Views), ed. Harold Bloom, (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986) page 213.
  6. ^ Bernardo, Susan M. & Murphy, Graham J. Ursula K. Le Guin: A Critical Companion, (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006), page 18.
  7. ^ Cadden, Mike. Ursula K. Le Guin Beyond Genre: Fiction for Children and Adults, (New York, NY: Routledge, 2005) page 30.
  8. ^ Bernardo, Susan M. & Murphy, Graham J. Ursula K. Le Guin: A Critical Companion, (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006), page 16.
  9. ^ a b Wood, Susan, "Discovering Worlds: The Fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin" published in Ursula K. Le Guin (Modern Critical Views), ed. Harold Bloom, (New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986) page 186.
  10. ^ Wood, Susan, "Discovering Worlds: The Fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin" published in Ursula K. Le Guin (Modern Critical Views), ed. Harold Bloom, (New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986) page 188.
  11. ^ Bain, Dena C., "The Tao Te Ching as Background to the Novels of Ursula K. Le Guin" published in Ursula K. Le Guin (Modern Critical Views), ed. Harold Bloom, (New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986) page 211.
  12. ^ Sawyer, Andy The Mythic Fantasy of Robert Holdstock: Critical Essays on the Fiction, eds. Morse, Donald E. & Matolcsy, Kalman (London: McFarland & Company, Inc. 2011), page 77.
  13. ^ a b Barbour, Douglas, "Wholeness and Balance in the Hainish Novels" published in Ursula K. Le Guin (Modern Critical Views), ed. Harold Bloom, (New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986) pages 24-25.
  14. ^ Spivack, Charlotte. Ursula K. Le Guin, (Boston, MA: Twayne Publishers, 1984) page 21.
  15. ^ Bittner, James W., "Persuading Us to Rejoice and Teaching Us How to Praise: Le Guin's Orsinian Tales" published in Ursula K. Le Guin (Modern Critical Views), ed. Harold Bloom, (New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986) page 129.
  16. ^ Wood, Susan, "Discovering Worlds: The Fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin" published in Ursula K. Le Guin (Modern Critical Views), ed. Harold Bloom, (New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986) page 184.
  17. ^ Spivack, Charlotte. Ursula K. Le Guin, (Boston, MA: Twayne Publishers, 1984) page 14.
  18. ^ Cadden, Mike. Ursula K. Le Guin Beyond Genre: Fiction for Children and Adults, (New York, NY: Routledge, 2005) pages 30 & 38.
  19. ^ Spivack, Charlotte. Ursula K. Le Guin, (Boston, MA: Twayne Publishers, 1984) page 20.
  20. ^ Bain, Dena C., "The Tao Te Ching as Background to the Novels of Ursula K. Le Guin" published in Ursula K. Le Guin (Modern Critical Views), ed. Harold Bloom, (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986) page 220.


  • Bernardo, Susan M.; Murphy, Graham J. (2006). Ursula K. Le Guin: A Critical Companion (1st ed.). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-33225-8.
  • Bloom, Harold, ed. (1986). Ursula K. Le Guin (1st ed.). New York, NY: Chelsea House. ISBN 978-0-87754-659-7.
  • Cadden, Mike (2005). Ursula K. Le Guin Beyond Genre: Fiction for Children and Adults (1st ed.). New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-99527-6.
  • Le Guin, Ursula K. (1978). City of Illusions With a New Introduction by the Author (hardback ed.). New York, NY: Harper & Row.
  • Le Guin, Ursula K. (May 1992). The Language of the Night (revised ed.). HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-016835-3.
  • Le Guin, Ursula K. (1978). Three Hainish Novels (1st ed.). Nelson Doubleday.
  • Le Guin, Ursula K. (1996). Worlds of Exile and Illusion (1st ed.). New York, NY: Orb. ISBN 978-0-312-86211-4.
  • Spivack, Charlotte (1984). Ursula K. Le Guin (1st ed.). Boston, MA: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 978-0-8057-7393-4.

An ansible is a category of fictional device or technology capable of near-instantaneous or superluminal communication. It can send and receive messages to and from a corresponding device over any distance or obstacle whatsoever with no delay, even between star systems. As a name for such a device, the word "ansible" first appeared in a 1966 novel by Ursula K. Le Guin. Since that time, the term has been broadly used in the works of numerous science fiction authors, across a variety of settings and continuities.

Anthropological science fiction

The American Anthropological Association defines anthropology as "the study of humans, past and present. To understand the full sweep and complexity of cultures across all of human history, anthropology draws upon knowledge from the social and biological sciences as well as the humanities and physical sciences." However, Samuel Gerald Collins of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice, Towson University, writing in the journal Science Fiction Studies has pointed out that:

In 1978, Margaret Mead, empathizing with the concerns of the 60s' counterculture, pointed to a grave deficiency in the science of anthropology: "Anthropology has to date made very meager contributions to man's developing concern with the future" ("Contribution" 3). Two decades later, the American Anthropological Association began awarding an annual prize for "Anticipatory Anthropology" in order to ameliorate this shortcoming, what Robert Textor (who sponsored the award and for whom it is named) called the discipline's "tempocentrism" – i.e., its concern only "with the past, the ethnographic present, and the actual present."

The anthropologist Leon E. Stover says of science fiction's relationship to anthropology: "Anthropological science fiction enjoys the philosophical luxury of providing answers to the question "What is man?" while anthropology the science is still learning how to frame it". The editors of a collection of anthropological SF stories observed:

Anthropology is the science of man. It tells the story from ape-man to spaceman, attempting to describe in detail all the epochs of this continuing history. Writers of fiction, and in particular science fiction, peer over the anthropologists' shoulders as the discoveries are made, then utilize the material in fictional works. Where the scientist must speculate reservedly from known fact and make a small leap into the unknown, the writer is free to soar high on the wings of fancy.

Charles F. Urbanowicz, Professor of Anthropology, California State University, Chico has said of anthropology and SF:

Anthropology and science fiction often present data and ideas so bizarre and unusual that readers, in their first confrontation with both, often fail to appreciate either science fiction or anthropology. Intelligence does not merely consist of fact, but in the integration of ideas -- and ideas can come from anywhere, especially good science fiction!

The difficulty in describing category boundaries for 'anthropological SF' is illustrated by a reviewer of an anthology of anthropological SF, written for the journal American Anthropologist, which warned against too broad a definition of the subgenre, saying: "Just because a story has anthropologists as protagonists or makes vague references to 'culture' does not qualify it as anthropological science fiction, although it may be 'pop' anthropology." The writer concluded the book review with the opinion that only "twelve of the twenty-six selections can be considered as examples of anthropological science fiction."This difficulty of categorization explains the exclusions necessary when seeking the origins of the subgenre. Thus:

Nineteenth-century utopian writings and lost-race sagas notwithstanding, anthropological science fiction is generally considered a late-twentieth-century phenomenon, best exemplified by the work of writers such as Ursula K. Le Guin, Michael Bishop, Joanna Russ, Ian Watson, and Chad Oliver.

Again, questions of description are not simple as Gary Westfahl observes:

... others present hard science fiction as the most rigorous and intellectually demanding form of science fiction, implying that those who do not produce it are somehow failing to realize the true potential of science fiction. This is objectionable ...; writers like Chad Oliver and Ursula K. Le Guin, for example, bring to their writing a background in anthropology that makes their extrapolated aliens and future societies every bit as fascinating and intellectually involving as the technological marvels and strange planets of hard science fiction. Because anthropology is a social science, not a natural science, it is hard to classify their works as hard science fiction, but one cannot justly construe this observation as a criticism.

Despite being described as a "late-twentieth-century phenomenon" (above) anthropological SF's roots can be traced further back in history. H. G. Wells (1866–1946) has been called "the Shakespeare of SF" and his first anthropological story has been identified by anthropologist Leon E. Stover as "The Grisly Folk". Stover notes that this story is about Neanderthal Man, and writing in 1973, continues: "[the story] opens with the line 'Can these bones live?' Writers are still trying to make them live, the latest being Golding. Some others in between have been de Camp, Del Rey, Farmer, and Klass."

A more contemporary example of the Neanderthal as subject is Robert J. Sawyer's trilogy "The Neanderthal Parallax" – here "scientists from an alternative earth in which Neanderthals superseded homo sapiens cross over to our world. The series as a whole allows Sawyer to explore questions of evolution and humanity's relationship to the environment."


Catwings is a series of four American children's picture books written by Ursula K. Le Guin, illustrated by S. D. Schindler, and originally published by Scholastic from 1988 to 1999. It follows the adventures of kittens who were born with wings. Catwings is also the title of the first book in the series. The series is in print from Scholastic as of August 2015.In Britain the series was published in two omnibus volumes as Tales of Catwings and More Tales of the Catwings (Puffin/Penguin, 1999 and 2000). In America the 2003 editions were available in a boxed set of four with slipcase title The Catwings Collection (Orchard/Scholastic), listed as Catwings Set by Powell's Books.Scholastic classifies the Catwings books as fantasy and classifies the first two by "interest level" as "grades 2–5", the last two as "grades preK–3" (children of ages about 7–11 and 4–9 respectively). The series is covered by the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, which classifies the volumes as short fiction and as chapbooks.Scholastic Book Guides, a series for schoolteachers, includes one Catwings volume.In 2002 and 2003 as Catwings 5 and Catwings 6, Le Guin published online editions of picture books "by Mrs. Katz's First Grade Class".Ten years after their last Catwings volume, Le Guin and Schindler created another picture book featuring a cat: Cat Dreams (Orchard/Scholastic, 2009), with "easy rhyming text" and "realistic, full-bleed watercolor illustrations".

Chinese science fiction

Chinese science fiction (traditional Chinese: 科學幻想, simplified Chinese: 科学幻想, pinyin: kēxué huànxiǎng, commonly abbreviated to 科幻 kēhuàn, literally scientific fantasy) is genre of literature that concerns itself with hypothetical future social and technological developments in the Sinosphere.

Earth in science fiction

An overwhelming majority of fiction is set on or features the Earth. However, authors of speculative fiction novels and writers and directors of science fiction film deal with Earth quite differently from authors of conventional fiction. Unbound from the same ties that bind authors of traditional fiction to the Earth, they can either completely ignore the Earth or use it as but one of many settings in a more complicated universe, exploring a number of common themes through examining outsiders' perceptions of and interactions with Earth.

Four Ways to Forgiveness

Four Ways to Forgiveness is a collection of four short stories and novellas by American writer Ursula K. Le Guin. All four stories are set in the future and deal with the planets Yeowe and Werel, both members of the Ekumen, a collective of planets used by Le Guin as part of the background for many novels and short stories in her Hainish Cycle. In 2017 it was reissued as an e-book, augmented with a fifth related story by Le Guin, as Five Ways to Forgiveness.

Hainish Cycle

The Hainish Cycle consists of a number of science fiction novels and stories by Ursula K. Le Guin. It is set in an alternate history/future history in which civilizations of human beings on planets orbiting a number of nearby stars, including Terra (Earth), are contacting each other for the first time and establishing diplomatic relations, setting up a confederacy under the guidance of the oldest of the human worlds, peaceful Hain. In this history, human beings did not evolve on Earth but were the result of interstellar colonies planted by Hain long ago, which was followed by a long period when interstellar travel ceased. Some of the races have new genetic traits, a result of ancient Hainish experiments in genetic engineering, including people who can dream while awake, and a world of androgynous people who only come into active sexuality once a month, not knowing which sex will manifest in them. In keeping with Le Guin's style, she uses varied social and environmental settings to explore the anthropological and sociological outcomes of human evolution in those diverse environments.

The Hainish novels The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) and The Dispossessed (1974) have won literary awards, as have the novella The Word for World Is Forest (1972) and the short story "The Day Before the Revolution" (1974).

Le Guin herself discounted the idea of a "Hainish Cycle", writing on her website that "The thing is, they aren't a cycle or a saga. They do not form a coherent history. There are some clear connections among them, yes, but also some extremely murky ones."

List of science fiction novels

This is a list of science fiction novels, novel series, and collections of linked short stories. It includes modern novels, as well as novels written before the term "science fiction" was in common use. This list includes novels not marketed as SF but still considered to be substantially science fiction in content by some critics, such as Nineteen Eighty Four. As such, it is an inclusive list, not an exclusive list based on other factors such as level of notability or literary quality. Books are listed in alphabetical order by title, ignoring the leading articles "A", "An", and "The". Novel series are alphabetical by author-designated name or, if there is none, the title of the first novel in the series or some other reasonable designation.

Mongoose Publishing

Mongoose Publishing is a British manufacturer of role-playing games, miniatures, and card games, publishing material since 2001. Its licenses include products based on the science fiction properties Traveller, Judge Dredd, and Paranoia, as well as fantasy titles.

Planet of Exile

Planet of Exile is a 1966 science fiction novel by American writer Ursula K. Le Guin, part of her Hainish Cycle. It was first published as an Ace Double following the tête-bêche format, bundled with Mankind Under the Leash by Thomas M. Disch. In 2017, the rights for a movie have been acquired by Los Angeles Media Fund.

Planets of the Hainish Cycle

Ursula K. Le Guin's Hainish Cycle takes place in a science fiction universe that contains a number of planets, some of which have been explored and made part of an interplanetary group called the League of All Worlds and its successor, the Ekumen; others are explored and re-explored by the League and the Ekumen over a time frame spanning centuries. Le Guin has used approximately a dozen planets as primary settings for her novels; as such they have detailed physical and cultural descriptions. Le Guin reveals in The Left Hand of Darkness that at that narrative-time, there were 83 planets in the Ekumen, with Gethen a candidate for the 84th.

Rocannon's World

Rocannon's World is a science fiction novel by American writer Ursula K. Le Guin, her literary debut. It was published in 1966 as an Ace Double, along with Avram Davidson's The Kar-Chee Reign, following the tête-bêche format. Though it is one of Le Guin's many works set in the universe of the technological Hainish Cycle, the story itself has many elements of heroic fantasy. The hero Gaveral Rocannon encounters lords who live in castles and wield swords, and other races much like fairies and gnomes, in his travels on a backward planet.

The word "ansible" for a faster-than-light communicator, was coined in the novel. The term has since been widely used in science fiction.


The Shing are a fictional alien race, in the Hainish Cycle of novels and short stories of the science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin. They are only explicitly described in City of Illusions, but seem to be the same as the distant but threatening 'enemy' mentioned in Rocannon's World and Planet of Exile. In The Left Hand of Darkness, brief reference is made to an earlier 'Age of the Enemy' which is now past. It seems the planets of the former League of Worlds have re-united as the Ekumen.

In her introduction to the 1978 hardback edition of City of Illusions, Le Guin regrets the improbable and flawed depiction of the villains, the Shing, as not convincingly evil.

The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness is a science fiction novel by U.S. writer Ursula K. Le Guin, published in 1969. The novel became immensely popular and established Le Guin's status as a major author of science fiction. The novel is part of the Hainish Cycle, a series of novels and short stories by Le Guin set in the fictional Hainish universe, which she introduced in 1964 with "The Dowry of the Angyar". Among the Hainish novels, it was preceded in the sequence of writing by City of Illusions and followed by The Word for World Is Forest.The novel follows the story of Genly Ai, a native of Terra, who is sent to the planet of Gethen as an envoy of the Ekumen, a loose confederation of planets. Ai's mission is to persuade the nations of Gethen to join the Ekumen, but he is stymied by his lack of understanding of Gethenian culture. Individuals on Gethen are ambisexual, with no fixed sex. This fact has a strong influence on the culture of the planet, and creates a barrier of understanding for Ai.

The Left Hand of Darkness was among the first books in the genre now known as feminist science fiction and is the most famous examination of androgyny in science fiction. A major theme of the novel is the effect of sex and gender on culture and society, explored in particular through the relationship between Ai and Estraven, a Gethenian politician who trusts and helps him. Within that context, the novel also explores the interaction between the unfolding loyalties of its main characters, the loneliness and rootlessness of Ai, and the contrast between the religions of Gethen's two major nations. The theme of gender also touched off a feminist debate when it was first published, over depictions of the ambisexual Gethenians.

The Left Hand of Darkness has been reprinted more than 30 times, and received a highly positive response from reviewers. It was voted the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novel by fans and writers, respectively, and was ranked third behind Frank Herbert's Dune and Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End in a 1975 poll in Locus magazine. In 1987, Locus ranked it second among science fiction novels after Dune and Harold Bloom stated: "Le Guin, more than Tolkien, has raised fantasy into high literature, for our time".

The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth is a children's fantasy adventure novel written by Norton Juster with illustrations by Jules Feiffer, published in 1961 by Random House in the US.

In 1958, Juster had received a Ford Foundation grant for a children's book about cities. Unable to make progress on that project, he turned to writing what became The Phantom Tollbooth, his first book. His housemate, Feiffer, a cartoonist, interested himself in the project. Jason Epstein, an editor at Random House, bought the book and published it. It received rave reviews and has sold in excess of three million copies, far more than expected. It has been adapted into a film, opera, and play, and translated into many different languages.

The Phantom Tollbooth is the story of a bored young boy named Milo who unexpectedly receives a magic tollbooth one afternoon, and, having nothing better to do, drives through it in his toy car, transporting him to the Kingdom of Wisdom, once prosperous but now troubled. There he acquires two faithful companions and goes on a quest to find two exiled princesses—Rhyme and Reason—from the Castle in the Air and bring them back to the kingdom. In the process, he learns valuable lessons and finds a love of learning. The writing is full of puns and wordplay, such as when Milo unintentionally jumps to Conclusions, an island in Wisdom, thus exploring the literal meanings of idioms.

Although the book is an adventure story at first glance, one of its major themes is the need for a love of education; this is how Milo applies what he has learned in school, advances in his personal development, and learns to love the life that previously bored him. Critics have compared the book's appeal to that of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and to L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Ultraman Retsuden

Ultraman Retsuden (ウルトラマン列伝, Urutoraman Retsuden) is a biography series produced by Tsuburaya Productions created to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Ultra Series. The show first premiered on TV Tokyo on July 6, 2011 and is still currently in syndication. The show features clips from past Ultra Series shows. The catchphrases for the series are "Let's Schawtch together in front of the television at 6 o'clock on Wednesday!" (水6はテレビの前でみんなでシュワッチ!, Sui roku wa terebi no mae de min'na de Shuwatchi!) and "Kindness and courage to you!" (やさしさと勇気を、君へ!, Yasashisa to yūki o, kimi e!).

The new season of the show is titled New Ultraman Retsuden (新ウルトラマン列伝, Shin Urutoraman Retsuden) and premiered on July 3, 2013. Starting from April 2, 2016, New Ultraman Retsuden changed its broadcasting schedule from 6:00 pm in the Tuesday to 9:00 am in Saturday. Said change is also a part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Ultra Series. The series will be put to an end in late June 2016 but its final nine episodes (147-155), it previews the upcoming 2016 Ultra Series, Ultraman Orb.

Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (; October 21, 1929 – January 22, 2018) was an American novelist. She worked mainly in the genres of fantasy and science fiction, and authored children's books, short stories, poetry, and essays. Her writing was first published in the 1960s and often depicted futuristic or imaginary alternative worlds in politics, the natural environment, gender, religion, sexuality, and ethnography. In 2016, The New York Times described her as "America's greatest living science fiction writer", although she said that she would prefer to be known as an "American novelist".She influenced Booker Prize winners and other writers, such as Salman Rushdie and David Mitchell, and science fiction and fantasy writers including Neil Gaiman and Iain Banks. She won the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Locus Award, and World Fantasy Award, each more than once. In 2014, she was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In 2003, she was made a Grandmaster of Science Fiction, one of a few women writers to take the top honor in the genre.

Ursula K. Le Guin bibliography

Ursula K. Le Guin was an American author of speculative fiction, realistic fiction, non-fiction, screenplays, librettos, essays, poetry, speeches, translations, literary critiques, chapbooks, and children's fiction. She was primarily known for her works of speculative fiction. These include works set in the fictional world of Earthsea, stories in the Hainish Cycle, standalone novels and short stories. Though frequently referred to as an author of science fiction, critics have described her work as being difficult to classify.Le Guin came to critical attention with the publication of A Wizard of Earthsea in 1968, and The Left Hand of Darkness in 1969. The Earthsea books, of which A Wizard of Earthsea was the first, have been described as Le Guin's best work by several commentators, while scholar Charlotte Spivack described The Left Hand of Darkness as having established Le Guin's reputation as a writer of science fiction. Literary critic Harold Bloom referred to the books as Le Guin's masterpieces. Several scholars have called the Earthsea books Le Guin's best work. Her work has received intense critical attention. As of 1999, ten volumes of literary criticism and forty dissertations had been written about her work: she was referred to by scholar Donna White as a "major figure in American letters". Her awards include the National Book Award, the Newbery Medal, and multiple Hugo and Nebula Awards. Feminist critiques of her writing were particularly influential upon Le Guin's later work.Le Guin's first published work was the poem "Folksong from the Montayna Province" in 1959, while her first short story was "An die Musik", in 1961; both were set in her fictional country of Orsinia. Her first professional publication was the short story "April in Paris" in 1962, while her first published novel was Rocannon's World, released by Ace Books in 1966. Her last publication was a 2018 collection of non-fiction, titled Dreams Must Explain Themselves and Other Essays 1972–2004. This bibliography includes all of Le Guin's published novels, short fiction, translations, edited volumes, and all collections that include material not previously published in book form, as well as any works mentioned in commentary about Le Guin's writings.

Winter's King

"Winter's King" is a science fiction short story by American writer Ursula K. Le Guin, originally published in the September 1969 issue of Orbit, a fiction anthology. The story is part of the Hainish Cycle and explores topics such as the human effect of space travel at nearly the speed of light, as well as religious and political topics such as feudalism."Winter's King" was one of four nominees for the 1970 Hugo Award for Best Short Story.

Le Guin revised the story, focusing on pronoun gender, for its inclusion in her 1975 short story collection The Wind's Twelve Quarters.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.