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The Unreal and the Real by Ursula K Le Guin

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The Unreal and the Real

Most of the reviews I have done for LibraryThing as part of their Early Reviewer programme have been of books by authors I have never heard of. In this case though, I have been familiar with her name for most of my reading life; indeed, her stature is such that anyone who considers themselves well-read in the fields of science fiction and fantasy writing should feel obliged to dip (or dive) into Ursula K Le Guin’s extensive oeuvre.

It was Volume One of this recent collection that I read and I must admit that not all of the stories grabbed me with equal intensity. Some I found intensely gripping, disturbing or otherwise engaging. Others, unfortunately including the four Orsinian tales that start the book, left me reading faster rather than drinking deeper. I suppose it is to be expected that, on such a mature and well-developed tree, some of the branches will grow away from you.

Should a collection be focused more on a particular type of story? It is a point that could be debated. Having just re-read Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man, which would be a gold standard example, I think I will hedge my bets and merely mark this one as a 4.5/5. That said, I am looking forward to returning to the majority of the stories in the future and I think the author has taken some care not just to trot out the bestsellers but to choose a selection that represents her so still a strong recommendation that this is a book worthy of the reading.

11 November, 2012 by Wulf Forrester-BarkerBook Review

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