Changing Planes Audio CD – Dec 2003
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At first, readers may find Ursula K. Le Guin's collection Changing Planes rather light, if not slight. However, as the reader continues through its sixteen stories (ten of which are original to this volume), the collection achieves considerable weight and power.
A punny conceit links the stories and provides the title of Changing Planes. Conceived before September 11, 2001, this conceit now, unfairly, looks odd. Trapped too many times in the misery of pre-terrorist airports, Sita Dulip discovered how to change planes: not airplanes, but planes of existence. Now the people of Sita's earth travel between alternate universes.
The stories in Changing Planes are strong expressions of Le Guin's considerable anthropological and psychological insight. However, these tales don't follow traditional plot structures or character-development methods. They read more like travelogues, or socio-anthropological articles on foreign nations or tribes. They explore exotic literary planes lying somewhere between Jorge Luis Borges's ficciones and Horace Miner's anthropological satire Body Ritual Among the Nacirema. However, unlike Miner's parody, Le Guin's wise tales are rarely satirical, though "The Royals of Hegn" sharply skewers the absurdity of royalty-worship, and "Great Joy" rightly attacks the boundless corporate criminality familiar to anyone who's read a newspaper since 2001.
One of America's greatest authors, Ursula K. Le Guin has received the National Book Award, the Newberry Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, five Nebula Awards, and five Hugo Awards. --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
When most people get stuck for hours in an airport, nothing much comes of it but boredom. When a writer like Le Guin (The Other Wind, etc.) has such an experience, however, the result may be a book of short stories. In "Sita Dulip's Method," a bored traveler, a friend of the narrator, discovers that if she sits on her uncomfortable airport chair in just the right way and thinks just the right thoughts, she can change planes-not airplanes, mind you, but planes of existence. Each of the linked stories that follows recounts a trip by the narrator or someone of her acquaintance to a different plane. "The Silence of the Asonu," for example, describes a world where the people speak only half a dozen words in any given year, and "The Ire of the Veksi" recounts a visit to a plane where virtually all the natives are angry virtually all of the time. The majority of these stories are allegorical to some degree. Most have a satiric edge, as in "Great Joy," for example which features an entire world devoted to the commercial side of various holidays, with lots of great shopping in quaint little towns like Nol City, O Little Town and Yuleville. Many of the tales echo, or take issue with, other works of fantastic fiction. Swift's Gulliver's Travels is clearly an influence, and one story, "Wake Island," can be seen as a re-examination of the basic premise of Nancy Kress's classic superman tale, "Beggars in Spain." This is a fairly minor effort, but like everything from Le Guin's pen, a delight. B&w illus. by Eric Beddows.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Strange stories they are, too, stories of people just a little different from ourselves, people whose foibles and fallacies are just a little different from our own. Stories of people wracked by pointless ethnic conflicts that go on for centuries; people who have ruined their worlds and destroyed their ecologies; worlds in which ancient cultures and traditions are fading away. There is a quality of wistful longing in these stories, longing for a simpler, saner world that has been lost or ruined. LeGuin's beautiful writing is complemented by the inventive, Escher-like drawings of Eric Beddows.
Author Ursula K. LeGuin is a master story-teller. These stories are easy to read, compelling, humorous, engaging, and hard to forget. They will get you to thinking and they will haunt you. I recommend this book highly. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber
What would it be like to have wings? Would it be a gift or a burden? In the world of the Fliers of Gyr, one Flier expresses his joy at flying, but also his regrets. Once in the freedom of the air, he could not bear to return to the grounded life, forsaking community and family.
What would it be like if we were all mixed together? After a genetic disaster, people in this world contain genes of animals and plants, which manifest themselves in unexpected ways. Take the chicken-people, who look normal but spend their time running in hyperactive circles. It is funny but a little sad. A conversation with a young waiter who is four percent corn reveals all this and more.
My only complaint ais that some of the stories are too documentary-like, though no less interesting. By all means, read this book, and take a journey out of the ordinary.
After this clever set-up, the book becomes a sort of glorified travelogue. Granted, the civilizations on the various planes aren't real --- but they could be, and Le Guin's gift for inventing plausible and detailed alternative societies is as brilliant as ever. In the tradition of her eminent anthropologist parents, she creates a succession of strange lands and customs that overturn our assumptions about what is standard, settled, and normal. It's cultural relativism as you've never seen it before: witty, sophisticated, and gloriously human.
"The Silence of the Asonu" shows us a civilization in which adults don't speak. In "The Nna Mmoy Language," words have ever-shifting meanings ("Learning Nna Mmoy is like learning to weave water," a puzzled outsider says) and "Feeling at Home With the Hennebet" challenges our notion of identity and the individual soul.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This book starts off with a light-hearted introduction, but quickly plunges the reader into a maze of possibilities. Read morePublished on Nov. 1 2003 by Greta
This is a collection of sketches based on the clever conceit that bored airplane travelers can move from tedious airports to parallel worlds (planes). Read morePublished on Sept. 13 2003 by R. Albin
Ursula K. Le Guin's Changing Planes was somewhat of a homecoming for me, as I've read little speculative fiction lately. Read morePublished on Sept. 9 2003 by Howard Bolling
It feels like Le Guin dreamed herself into a mad tea party with the likes of Dr. Seuss (the writer) and Italo Calvino, then woke(?) and wrote this book. Read morePublished on July 7 2003
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