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Four Ways To Forgiveness (2004)

Four Ways to Forgiveness (2004)

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4.13 of 5 Votes: 1
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006076029X (ISBN13: 9780060760298)
harper perennial

About book Four Ways To Forgiveness (2004)

There is just no denying it: Ursula le Guin is one of the greatest writers of the last 50 years (at least), and I firmly believe that the only reason she does not get more recognition for her commentary on race, politics, and - especially - gender - is because she sets much of that discussion off world. But, as I've mentioned before, this makes the discussion both easier to read - it's not my society being critiqued! - and harder-hitting, because when we see our faults in aliens... it hurts more, somehow. Or maybe that's just le Guin's genius.So. Here we have four interconnected short stories (although if we're being technical I think the last two are probably closer to novellas). We have two planets, Werel and Yeowe. Yeowe was uninhabited until the Owners on Werel decided to start mining and farming it, for which they used the labour of their assets. Yes, Werel is a slave-owning society, and a capitalist one (I see what you did there, le Guin - very nice indeed - Marx needs a little chastising sometimes). And within the hierarchy of owner/owned there's a gender hierarchy as well, with women being firmly the lowest section of each caste. Sounding familiar? Well yes, except that here lovely onyx skin is the most prized, and the paler you are - the more 'dusty' - the more obvious your slave status.Me, I'm one of the palest of the pale whitefellas around. No way can I presume to comment on how people of colour would react to this inversion. For myself, I'll admit that reading the derogatory term 'dusty' did not at first make sense (I thought it was referring to them living in the dirt and dust); and while it was uncomfortable in the context of slave/free, it's awesome to read stories wherein black is desirable and beautiful... and it's not a big deal. The four stories all deal with the same basic issue and time: the consequences of a revolt of the 'assets' on Yeowe against the Corporation who owned them: consequences for the Owners and the assets, for men and women, and for the alien Ekumen observers (this fits into le Guin's Hainish cycle). For me, while revolutions are interesting and all, it's the aftermath that's really the meat of history. What difference does it actually make? How long do changes take and how long do they hang around? Changing the world is one thing; changing attitudes and desires and beliefs quite another. The first story, "Betrayals," is set some time after the Liberation, in a nowhere town on Yeowe. It's the story that has least to do with the Liberation itself, although it comes about as a result of it. It's a tale of two old people - and how refreshing is that? - dealing with being old, and the changes in their world, and how frustrating the world can be when you're not able or allowed to make big changes yourself any more... but you can still make small ones, that do make a difference. Bitterness and growth and love. Also gossip, and the downfall of heroes."Forgiveness Day" comes first from the perspective of a 'space brat' - a worldly (hmm, or not; she doesn't really have a world) woman of the Ekumen sent to Werel to act as an observer there. Being an observer on tight-knit, inward-facing and closed-mouth Werel was always going to be a difficult task, but having a woman in that position - going out, rather than staying in the beza (woman's side); her own property, rather than a man's; speaking to men as their equal - is yet another kettle of proverbial. Solly deals with it rather bullishly, which is perfectly fair and understandable. What puts le Guin at the pinnacle is that she writes Solly completely sympathetically for maybe a quarter? of the story, and then relates the next section from the perspective of Teyeo, her bodyguard, of whom Solly has a very dim view but who again comes across as immensely sympathetic, and casts some shade on Solly; and then the rest is the two of them in rather a pickle. It's a commanding story of attitudes and cultural perspectives, and change in the face of necessity. It also starts opening up Werel society to the reader, giving hints and clues about how and why it works, which while not making it likeable begins to make it comprehensible."A Man of the People" begins on Hain, with a young boy growing up in a sheltered, insular pueblo... who eventually gets impatient with the local knowledge available and longs for something bigger. Nearly half of the story takes place on Hain as Havzhida learns about universal knowledge and eventually becomes a member of the Hainish delegation to Yeowe. While the previous story showed Werel from an outsider's perspective, seeing Yeowe post-Liberation from such a view is revealing too, not least because the gender hierarchy has been replicated. The rhetoric of freedom, of liberation, is a complex one, and le Guin makes some offerings on how to understand it in this and the next story in particular. I think this story is my favourite, at least partly because it shows how power doesn't have to come from violence, and subversion doesn't have to involve deceit. And the characters are wonderful and varied, and Havzhida is a willing observer - not insistent on participation where that might not be appropriate. Which is something that some activists might do well to understand.Finally, "A Woman's Liberation" is probably the most difficult to read of the lot. The first is post-Liberation Yeowe, so at least the theory of freedom is present; the second is Werel, where there is no freedom for 'assets' but Solly and Teyeo move freely (mostly); the third is post-Liberation Yeowe too, with Havzhida moving freely and women beginning to do so. "A Woman's Liberation," though, is from the perspective of a bondswoman - an asset - on Werel. She is thus doubly bonded, doubly enslaved, both to her Owner and to the men of her caste. This makes for a sometimes-painful reading experience - not gratuitous, not unnecessary, but painful nonetheless. Things do change, as the name suggests, but le Guin does not hide the fact that changing official status is difficult, and indeed is only one step in losing the 'slave-mind'. Rakam is a glorious character who grows and struggles and is unrelentingly honest with the reader. She's inspirational. These stories are complex and challenging and absorbing and frustrating because they do not fill in all of the gaps. By the end a general sweep of the history and society of Werel and Yeowe has been revealed, but there is so much more that could be written! This is one of the peculiar gifts of le Guin, I think - she does not tell us everything. Only what we need to know. Which is about liberation, and freedom, and individuality, and community, and love.

Forgiveness Day -Two different people, who represent two totally different civilizations and ways of thinking, are ''forced'' to come closer and in the end they discover that their differencies can not stop them from understanding or even love each other. (I wonder,do we all have to be locked in a room with someone totally different from us in order to open ourselves? Maybe it could work some times, since our intolerenace requires plenty of space to spread it's pointlessness.)A man of the people - At last, we get to know Hain! And what a surprise, Hain is not what i expected. Well i guess it should be, but my idea of a bad ass planet with super clever people and extraordinary power is not exactly Le Guin's style (Or at least it might had been in the past- see the League of All Worlds. Ekumen is something different, much more spiritual).So, this inner look at the planet that united the universe is given to us in order to understand that the planet itself actually is this universe's miniature. A free planet, with it's different cultures, a planet of knowledge and choices, and not a planet of power. Le Guin reminds to us what she was telling in her previous novels. Hain united the universe by giving them the choice and knowledge.Finally, a story of freedom and realization that we should neither forget where we come from nor underestimate our current situation.A Woman's Liberation - Like a chronicle, through the narration we see the facts tha took place during the four stories of this novel in the planet of Yeowe. This story completes the previous one, and actually is a manifest that deals with the rights of the women, metaphorically depicting situations that unfortunately still exist in our world.Betrayals - My favorite one. Another great example of how two different people can act in different circumstances and a finding that no matter what, if we try to understand each other, the procedure, not even the result, is going to bring us closer. A hymn of forgiveness and self awareness.In the end the wirter provides some notes that i wonder if it would be better if they were read in the beginning, anyway, they can help you a lot with the planets backrounds and stories.Another great work from my favorite writer.

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Maravilloso. Cuatro historias que llegan al alma. Son relatos en que el amor llega a sanar y tranquilizar el corazón cuando no hay más esperanza que seguir caminando por los derroteros de la vida cargando pérdidas, traiciones, soledad, vergüenza, abandono… Las cuatro historias son independientes pero a la vez relacionadas entre sí, ya que todas transcurren en el mismo sistema planetario, en que la autora ha desarrollado todo un régimen económico, político, social y religioso complejísimo en menos de 300 páginas, y en el que el lector se va adentrando y comprendiendo sin mucho esfuerzo a través de estos cuatro relatos, magníficamente escritos. Nos habla de esclavitud, de destrucción del medio ambiente, de ritos de iniciación, guerras tribales, levantamientos, el sometimiento de la mujer, corrupción y mucho más, me quedo muy corta en esta enumeración. Lo otro que me gustó muchísimo es que los relatos también se relacionan porque algunos de sus personajes aparecen en más de uno de ellos, pero en diferentes momentos de su vida, asumiendo tanto roles principales como secundarios e, incluso, a veces solo tangenciales al permitir que se produzca algún hecho o acontecimiento. Ursula K. Le Guin se ha transformado, en tan sólo unos pocos días, en mi autora favorita de ciencia ficción y, sin duda, seguiré incursionando en su obra.

Otro de la lista de 2004-2005. Este libro de ciencia-ficción me lo regaló «la lectora que se ríe de la ciencia-ficción» y como además tarde algo así como 6 años en leérmelo desde que me lo habían regalado, no contribuyó a que hubiese muchos más libros de ese género. Los libros tienen eso, tienen su momento, empiezas a leerlo y no te engancha, lo ves en la estantería y dejas pasar el tiempo, y de repente un día lo coges y lo lees del tirón.Este libro no es ninguna obra maestra, le doy 3 estrellas, y lo mismo lo puede leer un amante de la ciencia-ficción que uno que no lo sea, es más bien lo que podría llamarse una «novela alegórica», ya que la tecnología o ciertos aspectos que podrían definir esta obra como perteneciente a ese género casi no están presentes.El libro es una recopilación de cuentos largos, o de relatos cortos, que tratan los temas de la libertad y la mujer que tienen ese toque femenino que siempre se echa en falta en la ciencia-ficción. Los títulos de los cuatro relatos hablan por si mismos: Traiciones, El Día del perdón, Un hombre del pueblo y La liberación de la mujer. El ambiente de las historias me recordó a La quinta cabeza de Cerbero de Gene Wolfe y me dejaron con ganas de más, así que cualquier día tendré que hacerme con el volumen recopilatorio de sus novelas premiadas.* Ursula K. Le Guin en wikipedia* Doce moradas web dedicada a Ursula K. Le Guin=" reseña en mi blog

This was one of those times I found myself disliking Goodreads' 5-star rating system. I must've spent like 5 minutes debating whether or not this book was 3 stars or 4 and have agonizingly settled on 3.75. How ridiculous am I?Four Ways to Forgiveness is a rather unusual title for a science fiction novel, so it's fitting that this is rather an unusual novel. Not unusual in a surreal or unconventional way, just in a regular kind of way. It isn't properly a novel at all, for one thing -- it's a collection of 4 related and semi-related novellas that tell 4 different stories in the same setting -- the fallout of political, social, and ideological upheaval on two planets joined together by exploitation, enslavement, and ultimately violence. Each of the four parts tells the stories of the people involved in and still dealing with the ramifications of the exploitation and conflict that have taken place.The book keeps things thorny. It's easy to assume the slave-owning Werelians are the bad guys and the freedom-fighter Yeowe are the good guys; until then we see how easy it is for the oppressed to become oppressors themselves. The educated alien from a much more egalitarian and "civilized" culture has to overcome her own prejudices as much as her traditional and sexist bodyguard. Each circumstance concludes with acceptance and love -- in very minor ways, given the extent of the hurt, resentment, and disappointment, but acceptance and love nevertheless.Ok so I said I was giving this 3.75 because I thought it was kinda cheesy that all the reconciliation took the form of romantic love, but now I'm remembering all that happened in the book and am giving this a full 4 stars anyway. Who am I to split stars with Ursula Le Guin? The sheer wealth of the worldbuilding and thoughtful examination of touchy subjects makes this book well worth reading.

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