The Unreal and the Real, Volume II: Outer Space, Inner Lands by Ursula K. Le Guin

{140A4E09-9458-48BE-8FAB-7C1FBDF1AC20}Img100With a clamor of bells that set the swallows soaring, the Festival of Summer came to the city Omelas, bright-towered by the sea. — from “Those Who Walk Away From Omelas”

What it’s about: This 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, which is the only volume I read, focuses on her science fiction and fantasy short stories, while Volume I collects stories set in the “real world.” 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.

Why I liked it: 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.

Who might like it: 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.

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