|Published by Ace Books, 2000|
Blurb of The Telling, Hainish Cycle #8:
written by Aidan Zingler of ReshapingReality.org
Sutty comes from a tumultuous time in Earth’s history, where religion has bombed libraries and universities. She travels to the planet Aka as an observer in hopes of studying a world of rich history, where equality is paramount. Except by the time her ship finally arrives, the world does not match the reports of the original Ekumen observers. Technology has utterly transformed it. The Corporation strictly monitors the citizens in their March to the Stars, and all books and stories of their history have been banned and eradicated. Her first few months are spent under rigid control by the authorities, where she is given propaganda and nothing that she can truly study.
Within the first chapter, we learn that Sutty's request for passage out of the capital city is finally granted by bureaucrats. So she travels north to a small town in the foothills of the mountains. Here she uncovers the once rich society of the Telling. People here risk much to keep their stories alive. Intrigued by their beliefs, Sutty joins them on a sacred journey into the mountains. It is there, deep in the highest caverns of the mountains, that she delves into her past, these peoples’ past, and how it all intertwines here on this planet far from Earth.
Being a Master of Science Fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin does not disappoint, and she weaves a masterful story about philosophy, societal change, and the depths people go to keep their traditions alive. The characters are vibrant and interesting, full
of quirks and flaws. Even the Monitor — one of the Corporation’s agents —
has surprising depth, once Sutty has the chance to talk to him
outside of the strict confines of the Corporation. All of the dissidents — the Maz, storytellers — leap off the page with a glorious richness.
Not to be outmatched by the characters, the twist in the tale unravels through a discovery Sutty makes which surprised me in a delightful way. Despite the novel's small stature, the richness of the world-building and the characters shine with the brilliance of stars.
I highly recommend the novella as each page begs to be turned. It’s science fiction at its best — exploring humanity in all its idiosyncrasies.
5 out of 5 galaxies: