A stand-alone science fiction book.

Publication year: 1966
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2011
Format: print
Finnish translator: Jyrki Iivonen
Page count: 166
Finnish Publisher: Avain

This short book has more going on than most 600-page modern fantasy books. 🙂

Rolery lives in a planet which has very long solar cycle, about 60 Earth years. Her people are nomads who live in tents and travel with the seasonal changes which, of course, don’t happen as often as in Earth. Her people also have children based on the seasonal change. Rolery was born during the long summer and so was born out of season. She doesn’t have any age mates. Even though she’s outspoken and independent, she also worries that she will die single and childless, which according to her culture is worse than death, for a woman. At the start of the book she goes to Landin where the farborn people live. Rolery’s people, the hilfs, fear them and think that they are witches. However, Rolery wants to see the sea. There she meets Jakob Agat and is afraid of him and fascinated by him.

Agat has found out that Rolery’s town is in danger because of the gaals. The gaals are another (humanoid) tribe which live in the mountains and when the year turns towards winter, they walk in small groups near the town towards South. However, this year they would not be walking by. Instead, they are coming in great numbers and destroying everything and everyone in their path. Agat thinks that the only way that both the hilfs and the farborn can survive is by banding together. But to do that, they have to get over generations of distrust and fear.

The third point-of-view character is Roleyr’s old father who is pretty set in his ways. He’s still the chief of the village but younger and stronger men are challenging him.

Another reviewer mentioned that the Prime Directive should actually work this way. The farborn are in fact humans who have, for some reason which is never told, settled on the planet but only after they agreed to not use any advanced technology. The locals are of Stone Age level technology so the humans can’t use any of theirs and have in fact started to forget it.

The humans have other problem’s, too. They have difficulty having live children. Those that live in Landin all know each other, perhaps a bit too well.

The culture clash is pretty obvious here. However, LeGuin managed to surprise me quite a bit. As soon as the main conflict was introduced, it was sure I knew how it would end, but the plot went in quite a different direction. This was a very nice surprise. On the other hand, the book is so short it wasn’t possible, for me at least, to really get attached to the characters.

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