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Ursula K. Le Guin's
- The Left Hand of Darkness: the Role of Sex

Book Synopses
- The Telling

The Telling (Book Synopsis)
         by Ursula K. Le Guin's
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The Telling (Harcourt, September 2000, $24.00) is set in the Hainish world of her two most famous novels, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed. One of Le Guin’s favorite literary devices is to place a stranger in a strange culture, a tactic she uses in her utopia fantasies to help mediate between the reader’s reality and that of her characters. Unlike her Earthsea novels, which are pure fantasy, the Hainish novels are set in our galaxy and cover approximately 2500 years of future history among the various settlements colonized by the Hain, an original race that seeded other habitable planets in our universe, including Earth, with human life.

In The Telling, Sutty, a young woman from Earth trained on Hain to be an Observor for the interstellar Ekumen, is sent on her first mission to the planet Aka. Expecting to find a peace-loving society based on an ancient belief system similar to Taoism and known as The Telling, she finds instead that The Telling has been banned and the culture of Aka radically transformed into a restrictive society that worships pure science. The entire cultural and religious history of the Akans has been virtually erased. For the first time in fifty years, Sutty will be the first offworlder allowed to leave Dovza City, the capital, and journey to Okzat-Ozkat, a small city in the high mountains where remnants of “antiscientific cult activities” may exist.

Le Guin notes in her preface to The Telling that Aka’s strong ressemblance to China during Chairman Mao’s cultural revolution is not coincidental. For Le Guin, writing of an invented faraway world is really a way of making important points about life here on earth in our own time.
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