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Young People Read Old SFF: The Rule of Names by Ursula K. Le Guin
james_nicoll



Young People Read Old SFF: The Rule of Names by Ursula K. Le Guin

Also posted at Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comment(s); comment here or there.

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Achievement unlocked: inoffensiveness.

My SF book club recently read The Left Hand of Darkness. We all thought it was very well written, and that it had aged magnificently. One member said it could have been written yesterday.

Some friends and I are reading a book published in each year of our lives. Left Hand of Darkness is a popular choice for 1969; I'm hoping it goes down well with the bookseller who "doesn't like" F/SF and who I've persuaded to try it.

I hadn't read the story before. It is proto-Earthsea, along with another story, published 4 years before A Wizard of Earthsea. A lot of elements are there, but there are also differences of feel. Sattins is on the official map, but not isolated at all. Andrades are there too, but "Andrades '639 wine" feels weird, as does the mention of concertinas, and the story people seem white -- at least, they turn pink a lot, or Underhill does. The deserted island is referred to both as WON and Udrath, neither of which is not on the map that I can see. The "League" isn't something in the Earthsea history we know, though we don't know much about Earthsea history.

I had not seen the word 'roadsteads' before.

The mention of the "league" makes me think of the Ring of Erreth-Akbe, which Ged is looking for in Tombs of Atuan. It was a symbol (and in some way, possibly a cornerstone?) of a previous, more unified Earthsea.

Back when they had a King. This League sounds more republican than what we see in the books.

Kind of a down ending, yet it somehow didn't seem as horrific as in science fiction stories where everyone ends up dead in the end.

And who can argue with that?

It seems like a genre divide that fantasy stories are just by default more upbeat than science fiction stories. Even gritty dark fantasy has to try pretty hard to be more depressing and bloody than a lot of science fiction.

Is this because fantasy that's depressing and bloody just gets marketed as horror instead?

I think the fantasy has to be set in "our world", more or less, for it to be considered horror.

There has to be some out there, but off the top of my head I can't think of a secondary world horror story marketed as horror, at least that I can recall reading. I've seen stories that are obviously using the themes and techniques as horror, but aren't labeled as such. They're just considered fantasy.

There's a collection called Other Worlds' Nightmares: A Collection of Secondary-World Horror.


(Which is not to say it's common, only that it's not inconceivable.)

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