Worlds of Exile and Illusion, Ursula K Le Guin


SF Mistressworks reposted my review of Worlds of Exile and Illusion, an omnibus of three of Ursula K. Le Guin’s early novels.

Originally posted on SF Mistressworks:

worldsofexileWorlds of Exile and Illusion, Ursula K Le Guin (1996)
Review by Shannon Turlington

How can you tell the legend from the fact on these worlds that lie so many years away? – planets without names, called by their people simply The World, planets without history, where the past is a matter of myth, and a returning explorer finds his own doings of a few years back have become the gestures of a god.

Three early novels of the Hainish Cycle collected in one volume.

The science fiction novels of Ursula K Le Guin, often collectively called the “Hainish Cycle,” are not intended to be a series in the conventional sense. They are meant to stand alone and be read that way. But collecting three of her earliest novels into one volume gives the reader the opportunity to read these as a series, revealing connecting themes and making for a…

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More on Hobby Lobby…

The New York Times Editorial Board present a cogent, succinct argument why this decision limits rights, instead of upholding them. Just a snippet, but read the whole thing, it’s short (emphasis mine):

It was the first time the court has allowed commercial business owners to deny employees a federal benefit to which they are entitled by law based on the owners’ religious beliefs, and it was a radical departure from the court’s history of resisting claims for religious exemptions from neutral laws of general applicability when the exemptions would hurt other people.

Updated to add this useful article: 5 myths about the Hobby Lobby case, debunked. This addresses the most frequent arguments I’ve seen supporting the ruling.


Corporations have rights, women not so much…

So, this is going around Twitter today:

I have seen a lot of comments about the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, such as women can pay for their own birth control or not all birth control methods were excluded, just a few. They are all missing the fundamental point, which is that this decision, and a whole slew of other legislation targeting abortion rights and access to birth control, does not acknowledge that women are fundamentally people.

Women are seen first and foremost as potential baby-making devices. This one biological fact trumps everything else, including other health issues that a woman may have that don’t have anything to do with making babies or women’s ability to make their own decisions about their own health care, without interference from their (male) employers, (male) legislators, or the (male) majority of the Supreme Court.

For example, one of the devices that Hobby Lobby objects to on religious grounds is the IUD. Well, detractors say, women can use the pill instead, or a condom. However, the IUD’s only purpose is not birth control. It has other uses in women’s health beyond birth control, and the pill and condoms cannot substitute in those cases. The IUD is also very expensive, and it requires a medical procedure to put in place. This should be covered under health insurance, like all other medical procedures.

Why should employers or Supreme Court judges, who clearly do not have a medical degree and don’t know beans about women’s health, be dictating what kinds of medical devices women can and can’t have access to? Why do they think they know better than a woman and her doctor? Because babies, that’s why.

Why are women so upset about this decision, even women who don’t work for Hobby Lobby, or who don’t need these medical devices? Because once again it’s been affirmed that beyond making babies, women have no other function. A woman’s rights or medical needs mean nothing in comparison.

Until women are viewed as full people, with agency over every aspect of their lives, bodies, and health, women will not have achieved equality. Unfortunately, it’s all too clear that in this country, despite all our gains, women are still viewed as nothing more than life support systems for wombs.


Beggars in Spain, Nancy Kress


SF Mistressworks has republished my review of the novella Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress, which you can read below.

Originally posted on SF Mistressworks:

beggarsBeggars in Spain, Nancy Kress (1991)
Review by Shannon Turlington

“A man’s worth to society and to himself doesn’t rest on what he thinks other people should do or be or feel, but on himself. On what he can actually do, and do well. People trade what they do well, and everyone benefits. The basic tool of civilization is the contract. Contracts are voluntary and mutually beneficial. As opposed to coercion, which is wrong.”

This review has spoilers and political content. You have been warned.

In the near future, Leisha is one of the first generation of children genetically engineered not to need sleep, and finds herself hated and feared because of the advantages that gives her.

I first read this novel long ago, and I just reread the novella it was based on to refresh my memory, so this review will focus on the novella, which is the opening…

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