My Review of The Dispossessed by Ursula K Le Guin on SF Mistressworks

My review of The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia by Ursula K. Le Guin, posted on SF Mistressworks.

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the-dispossessedThe Dispossessed, Ursula K Le Guin (1974)
Review by Shannon Turlington

You shall not go down twice to the same river, nor can you go home again. That he knew; indeed it was the basis of his view of the world. Yet from that acceptance of transience he evolved his vast theory, wherein what is most changeable is shown to be fullest of eternity, and your relationship to the river, and the river’s relationship to you and to itself, turns out to be at once more complex and more reassuring than a mere lack of identity. You can go home again, the General Temporal Theory asserts, so long as you understand that home is a place where you have never been.

Long after I closed this book for the night and lay waiting for sleep to catch up with me, I thought about what I’d read, about the ideas posed…

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My Review of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell on SF Mistressworks

My review of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, posted on SF Mistressworks.

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The SparrowThe Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell (1996)
Review by Shannon Turlington

It’s hard to describe the exhilarating sense of emotion I felt while reading this book. I don’t consider myself a religious person, and this book is unquestionably about religion and our relationship with God. I am a spiritual seeker, though, and I found this novel to be one of the most meaningful examinations of our purpose as humans that I have ever read. It is not an easy read, and it offers no easy answers. But despite its horrors – and some truly horrific things happen in this story – it is a beautiful, life-affirming read.

I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot, because part of the joy of reading The Sparrow lies in discovering it. Russell parcels out the story in bits and pieces, to prepare the reader for what’s coming. So, just a bare-bones summary…

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My Review of Worlds of Exile and Illusion by Ursula K Le Guin on SF Mistressworks

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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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My Review of Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress on SF Mistressworks

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

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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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My Review of The Snow Queen by Joan D Vinge on SF Mistressworks

SF Mistressworks republished my review of The Snow Queen.

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snowqueenThe Snow Queen, Joan D Vinge (1980)
Review by Shannon Turlington

The Snow Queen is an epic story set on a distant planet, about the fall of one queen and the rise of another. The novel is based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson and tackles such weighty themes as immortality and the power of knowledge.

The strength of this novel lies in its world building. The planet of Tiamat is a fully realized world, an ocean-covered planet orbiting twin suns. Two tribes live there: the sea-going, island-dwelling Summers, characterized by a fear of technology and a superstitious worship of their sea goddess, the Lady; and the Winters, who live in the Northern regions and the shell-shaped city of Carbuncle, embrace technology and freely trade with the Offworlders.

Tiamat’s culture and history are shaped by the oddities of its planetary and solar system orbits. Every 150 years, it…

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My Review of Lilith’s Brood by Octavia E Butler on SF Mistressworks

SF Mistressworks has kindly republished my review of Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler. Go check it out!

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lillith Lilith’s Brood (Dawn, Adulthood Rites and Imago), Octavia E Butler (1989)
Review by Shannon Turlington

Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis novels were first compiled into one volume in 1989, but that compilation is now out of print. As with Seed to Harvest, Grand Central Publishing has reissued the compilation in an attractive trade paperback to capture new readers. And I’m glad they did, because I probably wouldn’t have read these books otherwise.

When I finished Lilith’s Brood, I actually wasn’t sure whether I liked it or not, but I thought about it a great deal, which I think is a sign of a book worth reading. The underlying theme disturbed me, partly because I didn’t find much hope in it, partly because I found myself agreeing with the series’ assessment: that humankind is fated by our own biology to destroy ourselves.

Lilith’s Brood includes three novels: Dawn, Adulthood Rites

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My review of Into the Forest by Jean Hegland on SF Mistressworks

My review of the apocalyptic novel Into the Forest by Jean Hegland, posted on SF Mistressworks.

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intotheforest Into the Forest, Jean Hegland (1996)
Review by Shannon Turlington

“People have been around for at least 100,000 years. And how long have we had electricity?”
“Well, Edison invented the incandescent lamp in 1879.”
“See? All this,” and she swung her arm to encircle the rooms of the only house I’d ever know, “was only a fugue state.” She pointed to the blackness framed by the open door. “Our real lives are out there.”

Two teenage daughters become stranded in their rural California home at the edge of a large, wild forest after the unexplained collapse of society and the accidental death of their father; gradually, the girls accept the reality of their situation and learn how to survive off the forest, which is the only resource they have in abundance.

This book revealed itself slowly, and it took me quite a while to really understand what it was all…

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