The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories Volume II: Outer Space, Inner Lands by Ursula K. Le Guin (2012)
Please Note: This review is only of Volume II of a two-volume collection of Le Guin’s short stories. I received a copy of this book in e-book format for review via the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.
The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories is a two-volume collection of previously published short stories by Ursula K. Le Guin, with a new introduction by the author. The second volume focuses on her science fiction and fantasy short stories, while Volume I collects stories set in the “real world.” Because the stories are collected from previously published works, they will be familiar to those who are already voracious Le Guin readers, but this selection would make a good introduction for those who are new to her writing.
The volume begins with one of Le Guin’s most famous stories, “Those Who Walk Away From Omelas,” which is more of a parable than a story but should be required reading for everyone. Of all her writing, I prefer Le Guin’s science fiction, and I especially enjoyed those short stories that were set in her Hainish universe, which fall in the middle of the collection. The collection ends with several fantasy stories, which I didn’t enjoy as much. All in all, this is a strong selection of stories that really show off Le Guin’s talents as a writer.
Reading the Hainish short stories renewed my interest in her science fiction novels. I have previously read her classic novels set in that universe, including The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed. For Christmas, I received Worlds of Exile and Illusion, an omnibus of three of her earliest Hainish novels, which I am currently devouring. I seem to never get tired of reading Ursula K. Le Guin.