Short stories by Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (1929-2018) was a celebrated author whose body of work includes 21 novels, 11 volumes of short stories, 11 volumes of poetry, 13 children’s books, five essay collections, and four works of translation. The breadth and imagination of her work earned her six Nebula Awards, seven Hugo Awards, and SFWA’s Grand Master, along with the PEN/Malamud and many other awards. In 2014 she was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and in 2016 joined the short list of authors to be published in their lifetimes by the Library of America. — Ursula Kroeber was born in 1929 and grew up in Berkeley, California. Her parents were anthropologist Alfred Kroeber and writer Theodora Kroeber, author of Ishi. She attended Radcliffe College and did graduate work at Columbia University. She married historian Charles A. Le Guin, in Paris in 1953; they lived in Portland, Oregon, beginning in 1958, and had three children and four grandchildren. Le Guin died peacefully in her home in January, 2018. Few American writers have done work of such high quality in so many forms. Her oeuvre comprises 21 novels, 11 volumes of short stories and novellas, six volumes of poetry, 12 children’s books, four collections of essays, and four volumes of translation. Le Guin’s major titles have been translated into 42 languages and have remained in print, often for over half a century. Her fantasy novel A Wizard of Earthsea, the first in a related group of six books and one short story, has sold millions of copies worldwide. Le Guin’s first major work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness, is considered groundbreaking for its radical investigation of gender roles and its moral and literary complexity. Her novels The Dispossessed and Always Coming Home redefine the scope and style of utopian fiction. Le Guin’s poetry drew increasing critical and reader interest in the later part of her life; her final collection of poems, So Far So Good, was published shortly after her death. Among many honors her writing received are a National Book Award, nine Hugo Awards, six Nebula Awards, the Howard Vursell Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the PEN/Malamud Award, and the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In 2000, she was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress, and in 2016 she joined the short list of authors to be published in their lifetimes by the Library of America. Three of Le Guin’s books have been finalists for the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Critical reception of Le Guin’s work rewarded her rigor and willingness to take risks with forms considered by some to be outside of literary fiction. Harold Bloom includes her among his list of classic American writers. Grace Paley, Carolyn Kizer, Gary Snyder, and John Updike praised her work, and many critical and academic studies of Le Guin’s work have been published. The documentary Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, directed by Arwen Curry, was released theatrically in 2018, and a biography of Le Guin’s life and work, by Julie Phillips, is forthcoming.

Listing 18 stories.

A young man leaves his traditional village behind to travel and work on distant planets. Throughout his interplanetary journeys, he must constantly reevaluate his understandings of truth, tradition, and love as he seeks a fulfilling life of his own, independent of what is expected from him.

A freed slave on an alien planet reflects on the enormous societal upheavals she witnessed and led.

A young being describes coming of age on their planet. Though they spend most of their time without gender, when it comes time to get physically intimate, they meet at a kemmer-house for a short duration, as either female or male.

In a Scandinavian-like fantasy world, a man reminisces on the history of his nation while going through his daily routines with his lover and cat.

An envoy for an interplanetary agency is sent to a kingdom in which women have few rights and slavery is commonplace.

In an austere farmstead on the distant planet O, two lovers must find a way to fool their fellow citizens and satisfy a complicated series of marriage rites so that their forbidden love may last forever.

In the future, a ship of ten clones, known as a tendone, lands to exploit a mine that two non-clone humans have discovered on a faraway planet. An earthquake destroys the mine, killing nine of the ten clones, leaving the last one to learn to live as an individual.

In a wild west boardinghouse, a young woman nurses an injured miner back to health while she reflects on her past relationships with men.

In the future, a field ethnologist studies and gains access to a new culture by raising her two children there and learning through them. As the children mature, the culturally ascribed gender roles make life hard for the son.

A woman shares her unpublished account of leading an all-woman expedition to the South Pole from Chile years before the first expedition arrived in 1912.