REVIEW: The Telling by Ursula K. Le Guin


The Telling: LeGuin, Ursula K.: 9780441011230: Books
Published by Ace Books, 2000

Blurb of The Telling, Hainish Cycle #8:

Once a culturally rich world, the planet Aka has been utterly transformed by technology. Records of the past have been destroyed, and citizens are strictly monitored. But an official observer from Earth will discover a group of outcasts who still practice its lost religion-the Telling. Intrigued by their beliefs, she joins them on a sacred pilgrimage into the mountains...and into the dangerous terrain of her own heart, mind, and soul. With her intricate creation of an alien world, Ursula K. Le Guin compels us to reflect on our own recent history.



written by Aidan Zingler of

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:

Pick up "The Telling" at your local library, your local bookstore, or these retailers:

Book Release: A Nocturne in Red

REP is pleased to announce the release of "A Nocturne in Red," a novella first published in August 2018 by the Society of Misfit Stories.

The ebook is available at Amazon HERE, and the print version HERE. According to Amazon's Matchbook program, if you purchase the print version, you can download the digital version for free. And the print version is truly lovely.

About the book:

"Nocturne" is the inaugural installment of the adventures of Sanjen of Shar, a musician and mage who never fails to get in over his head. If all goes well, other adventures will follow.


Sanjen Laurelius, a lute-wielding bard, is a rising star. 

He’s also wanted by the emperor. 

When he calls upon his special brand of song-magic to fight off a rampaging harpy, he finds himself the object of unwanted attention: a powerful officer in the emperor’s service hires Sanjen to find the cure for a curse that has transformed a favored concubine into a bloodthirsty monster. 

But Sanjen’s past is catching up with him. Can he find a way to save the victim of the curse before his employer discovers his true identity—and returns him to the emperor in chains?