In her introduction to this reprint collection of eight of her more recent SF stories, Le Guin (Tehanu) defends the best work of the genre as "beautif ul." It is critics and reviewers, she claims,who miss that beauty by empha sizing SF's role as an expositor of ideas. In any case, it's clear that the stories presented here show the softer side of the genre at its best. "The First with the Gorgonids" and "The Ascent of the North Face," the two entries that Le Guin calls "funny stories, silly stories," are just tha t-witty, satirical and amusing. Yet it is the author's more serious work th at displays her talents best, as she employs recurring themes and elements- cultural diversity, unlikely heroes and heroines, power's ability to corrup t, love's power to guide- and considers characters and types (women, childre n, the differently sexed and gendered) so often disenfranchised by other, m ore technologically oriented SF writers. From the briefest non humorous story here ("The Kerastion," about a silent flute made of human skin) to the lo ngest, eponymous one, Le Guin ponders the nature of art and how life should be lived. Always, her stories are about people, not technologies, and it i s this emphasis, as well as her accomplished prose, that makes this such a classy and valuable collection. Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. Midwest Book Review It's too limiting to classify Le Guin as purely a science fiction or fantasy writer; for the strength of her works lies in pieces which are as psychologically haunting as they are.
Used availability for Ursula K Le Guin's Science Fiction Stories
March 2003 : USA Hardback