This one is my listicle space for CBR bingo; I’m counting my last review of the short story collection The Time Traveler’s Almanac a list of authors to read into further because I love sci-fi but MAN am I picky about sci-fi and fantasy, and DAMN did I love that collection. Ursula K LeGuin has been on my to-read list for a while, (not to mention a ton of women in sci-if lists) and I really enjoyed her contribution to the almanac even if it took me a while to warm up to her style. I’m not one for a high world-building to character-development ratio, and second Randall Monroe of XKCD that the more made-up words in a story the less likely it is to be good.
You guys know where this is going.
I was hoping for more, but this reminded me of the way a child tells a story; in one battle with a dragon there’s a lot of build up and the climax…. is a macguffin no one in the story mentioned before. And then on to the next set piece. Also, Ged makes a mistake, learns the error of his ways by seeing what horrors his poor choices nearly unleash on the world …. and then repeat them and actually send a shadow monster into the world. There is too much tell and not enough show, Ged supposedly does this out of anger, but you never sense he’s lost control, you just take LeGuin’s word for it.
I appreciated the author’s afterword because I took the story to be a basic white dude, mediocre white dude-ing it up, but it turns out our protagonist isn’t white and I missed the subtle nods to that fact. And LeGuin allows for the book’s conventions particularly in its female characters. But ultimately the excellent climax and progressive-for-the-1970s diversity weren’t enough for me to like this.