THE BIRTHDAY OF THE WORLD by Ursula K. Le Guin

THE BIRTHDAY OF THE WORLD

and Other Stories

KIRKUS REVIEW

Eight stories, including seven reprints and a never-before-published novella, by the masterful Le Guin (The Telling, 2000, etc.), who has racked some SF and fantasy classics onto her shelf since receiving her first rejection slip, at age 11, from Amazing Stories. The first six tales take place on the world of Ekumen: “Coming of Age in Karhide” spells out societal differences among the androgynes that confused Le Guin 36 years ago when they arrived piecemeal into her imagination for The Left Hand of Darkness. “The Matter of Seggri” gathers documents by the Historians of Hain about Earth’s Seggri society and turns on the killing of female fetuses and babies. The amusing “Unchosen Love” and “Mountain Ways” are set on a world near Hain. The standout, charmingly limpid title story tells of the daughters of God and the infant Tazu, who will be four tomorrow on “The Birthday of the World” (see The Year’s Best Science Fiction 2001). In the wry “Solitude,” an ethnologist’s daughter discusses gender, sexuality, and the lack of marriages among introverted people of Hainish descent who survive a gigantic population crash. “Old Music and the Slave Women” connects with four stories in Four Ways to Forgiveness (1995), chronicling a revolution in the slave-based social economy on the planets Werel and Yeowe. Longest by far, the blissful novella “Paradises Lost,” written for this collection, tells of a generation of 4,000 space-voyagers aboard the ship Discovery. Their parents, born earlier on that paradisiacal dirtball Earth, did not live to see New Earth, the planet the ship sails toward; perhaps only their grandchildren will. And these new Adams and Eves, upon arrival at New Earth, must of course start naming things before innocence fades.

Pure starlight.

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-06-621253-7
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2002




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