PLANET OF EXILE
This appealing short novel or longish novella, originally published some eleven years ago, is a perfect illustration of Le Guin's concern with the influences that shape a culture or ethos. On a world whose complicated orbit takes it around Gamma Draconis once every 65 Earth years, a local hominid tribe exists in wary truce with a colony of Terrans stranded many ages ago. As the planet's terrible sixteen-year winter approaches, a threatened invasion from the north forces them into a shaky alliance. To the Terrans, the aborigines are only half-savage "hilfs" (higher-intelligent life-forms). To the Tevar community, the aliens with their strange machines, telepathic powers, and ignorance of social ritual are not "human." Both communities are shocked to discover a love affair between a young Terran and a daughter of the Tevar chief. The story itself is negligible; what interests Le Guin is the confrontation of two societies formed by different processes of adaptation or maladaptation. Graceful, thoughtful, unassuming.