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The Word for World Is Forest | [Ursula K. Le Guin]

The Word for World Is Forest

The planet Athshe was a paradise whose people were blessed with a mystical awareness of existence. Then the conquerors arrived and began to rape, enslave, and kill humans with a flicker of humanity. The athseans were unskilled in the ways of war, and without weapons. But the gentle tribesmen possessed strange powers over their dreams. And the alien conquerors had taught them how to hate....
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Publisher's Summary

The planet Athshe was a paradise whose people were blessed with a mystical awareness of existence.

Then the conquerors arrived and began to rape, enslave, and kill humans with a flicker of humanity. The athseans were unskilled in the ways of war, and without weapons. But the gentle tribesmen possessed strange powers over their dreams. And the alien conquerors had taught them how to hate....

©1976 Ursula K. Le Guin; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • 1973 Hugo Award, Best Novella
  • All-Time Best Novellas (Locus Magazine)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (84 )
5 star
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3.8 (58 )
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4.1 (59 )
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  •  
    Archaon Port Sydney, Ontario, Canada 07-10-11
    Archaon Port Sydney, Ontario, Canada 07-10-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "She is talent incarnate"

    Rarely can one find a read so full of deeper, and not instantly obvious, meanings that one has to stop the recording regularly to think about it, while also being wholly enraptured by the tale as it progresses.
    Le Guin is a rare breed of writer, a true innovator, a master of literary sorcery.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mama Aba Detroit, MI United States 02-24-11
    Mama Aba Detroit, MI United States 02-24-11 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "Avatar's influence"

    Clearly, this book inspired James Cameron's Avatar. I enjoyed Avatar on many levels and appreciated very deep messages (and the not very deep messages). The Word for World is Forest is equally mesmerizing. Well worth your time.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margit D. Morawietz Albuquerque, NM United States 06-10-12
    Margit D. Morawietz Albuquerque, NM United States 06-10-12 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Classic Tree Hugger Masterpiece"

    Ursula LeGuin is so much head & shoulders above most other SciFi/Phantasy writers it's not even funny. This world is beautiful and a dream. Allegory with guns, but not a shoot 'em up. Not for every one,it's somewhat slow. This is not a long novel, but so dense I relisten to chapters just to get it all. And then on re -reading/listening get more. Here the author does not spell everything out but it implied in a masterful way, that it engages your own imaginative function.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pez_dispens3r Adelaide, Australia 12-03-12
    Pez_dispens3r Adelaide, Australia 12-03-12

    Pez_dispens3r

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    "Avatar's Spiritual Predecessor"

    I was impressed with Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness, so I was anticipating another nuanced sci-fi story with this novel. Instead I found it to be a little heavy-handed with the characterization, and a little neat in its conclusion. The antagonist is working for a logging company, one contracted to a forest-world a dozen or so lightyears from earth, who conducts his business as if he were the colonial administrator of the Belgian Congo in 1870. A sea change in colonial administration occurs, however, and suddenly he's dealing with superiors who are reminiscent of the Carter administration. Cue the antagonist going rogue trying to put-down the locals as they make a noble, murderous run for self-determination. Things work out, though, with the smallest amount of bloodshed.

    If you want to listen to the first draft for Avatar, or you're looking for the best example of Le Guin's naivety, then get this book now. If you'd rather listen to a compelling story with believable characters, go somewhere else.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    zandperl USA 08-01-11
    zandperl USA 08-01-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dissapointing"

    This book was enough of a dud that I was prompted to write this review. Firstly, the book is short and is more of relating a series of events than an actual story with a plot that crescendos and comes to a climax and is then resolved. Only one character truly has any character development, and that is the one that you're supposed to view as the antagonist.

    I am also disappointed to learn that Audible did not bother to mention that this is not the first book in the series (or the universe) of the Hainish Cycle. Had I known, I would not have bought it, as I prefer not to start in the middle of a series, and this book is not particularly interesting as a stand-alone.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine St. Johns, FL, United States 02-27-14
    Katherine St. Johns, FL, United States 02-27-14 Member Since 2009

    I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A bludgeon"

    I know this is a classic and I agree with its Message, but gee, I feel like Le Guin was wielding a bludgeon here. Ouch!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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