Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Telling

The Telling is a science fiction novel by Ursula Le Guin, part of her Hainish Cycle. It won the 2001 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. There's an excerpt here. It came across as preachy to me.

from the book jacket:
In the latest novel in the Hainish cycle...

Sutty, an Observer for the interstellar Ekumen, has been assigned to Aka, a world in the grip of a materialistic government. The monolithic Corporation State of Aka has outlawed all old customs and beliefs. Sutty herself, an Earthwoman, has fled from a similar monolithic state - but one controlled by religious fundamentalists.

Unexpectedly she receives permission to leave the modern city where her movements were closely monitored. She travels up the river into the countryside, going from howling loudspeakers to bleating cattle, to seek the remnants of the banned culture of Aka. As she comes to know and love the people she lives with, she begins to learn their unique religion - the Telling. Finally joining them on a trek into the high mountains to one of the last sacred places, she glimpses hope for the reconciliation of the warring ideologies that have filled their lives, and her own, with grief.

The Telling is a reflection on the conflict of politics and religion in our modern world, and the story of a spiritual journey through a landscape that is at once very strange and very familiar.

SFSite says, "The Telling is a magnificently unveiled lesson that is vital to all of us." Strange Horizons says, "The biggest challenge that Le Guin faces in The Telling is polemic writing."

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