8 Ursula LeGuin Short Stories You Have to Read


Actually you should read every single one of them because they’re all mind-meltingly amazing, but I’m going to pull together a shortlist. I include links when they are available, though I also encourage you to buy LeGuin’s short story collections, especially The Birthday of the World, which is not to be missed.

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

Everyone recommends this short story, and for a damn good reason. It’s my favorite short story ever. Once you read it, it will inscribe itself into your heart and you will never, ever be able to forget it. In my world, it is not entirely untrue to say that this is the only story that matters, and all other truly important stories are variations on this one.

Solitude (excerpt here)

This story makes me cry every time. It’s about the distance between a mother and her children, and how no matter how well intentioned you are, it’s impossible to always do right by your children. You have to let them become their own people, even if that means making choices that seem terrifying and impossible to you.

The Author of the Acacia Seeds

This story feels like Ursula reached into the deepest parts of my imaginative id and placed them on the page. It’s a story about scholars translating and interpreting poems written by ants and penguins. It’s perfect. I wish I were a therolinguist.

Paradises Lost (excerpt here)

Set on a generational ship bound for a new terraformed colony in space, this story is about how the culture that allows you to survive a long journey through space may not match the culture you came from, or the culture you’ll have to build when you reach your destination. This story was a lifeline to me when I was in an abusive situation, and I came to realize that the coping mechanisms that were allowing me to survive the abuse were going to hurt me when it was over, and I reached the green land that was promised me.

Unchosen Love / Mountain Ways (excerpts here)

These love stories are set on the planet of O, where sexuality, gender, and marriage work very differently than they do in our society. I think about the sedoretu marriages of O all the time, and dearly wish other sci fi authors took the time to try to imagine other possible relationship structures the way LeGuin did. (By the way, fandom: please write more sedoretu AUs!!!)

The Fliers of Gy

This is classic wingfic, as fandom would call it – a world where once in a while, a person will spontaneously grow wings. But in this story, having wings is equal parts gift and curse, and everyone who has them reacts to them in a different way. This story has some beautiful metaphors about disability and difference.

The Seasons of the Ansarac

This story is so imaginative! It explores a species of bird-people called the Ansarac who have a migratory society – every season they abandon their homes of the north or the south and fly en masse the other way. It’s so interesting to think about how a civilization of seasonal long-distance migrants would work.

Coming of Age in Karhide (excerpt here)

This story is set in the world of LeGuin’s magnificent novel The Left Hand of Darkness, but you don’t have to read that book to like this story. It’s about coming of age as a teenager in a world without gender and without any shame about sex. The teenager in question goes to their first orgy and everyone is really sweet and supportive. I love this glimpse into how puberty could be a completely different experience.

Reposted from http://lies.tumblr.com/post/170238377428.

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