CBR10Bingo – Birthday! (Ursula LeGuin October 21)
To paraphrase Octavia Butler is talking about her novel “Survivor,” her book she kind of abandoned to out of print status: it was her Star Trek novel. This means that ultimately what she felt was happening in that novel was too conceit-heavy, too tropey, and too much about discovery of a weird alien race and then turning into a kind of hackneyed sci fi Golden Age schlock.
In the two first Hain novels, there’s a kind of teetering on the edge of being “Star Trek” novels, where it’s just a different planet with a different gimmick. It’s the stuff of bad sci fi and it’s the stuff of Kilgore Trout.
Here though, that same kind of basic conceit is still happening. A visitor from a collective government of planets has begun interacting with the planet Winter in hopes of folding in this planet with the “ecumen”. This strange culture involves much, but the most jarring difference between this culture and the ecumen species is that biological sex is interchangeable and changeable and the sexual act is more cyclical and periodic than constant. So were this the whole conceit, we’d have a Star Trek novel. And we had one of those in The Next Generation (Oh man, no gender that’s weird! Still wanna fuck someone though. Weird!) But here there’s a significant added depth, but what this also comes down to is about figuring out how difference functions, how to couch difference within politics, and in the latter half of the novel, how spiritual and romantic connections need not be entirely tied to sexual attraction.
I think I am done with LeGuin for a while, and I found this one to be a strong send off.