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City of Illusions - Ursula LeGuin - USED Book

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City of Illusions - Ursula LeGuin -  USED Book

City of Illusions- Ursula LeGuin - USED Book

used paperback in average condition

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The story starts as a man is found by a small community (housed in one building) in a forest area in eastern North America. He is naked except for a ring on one finger, has no memory except of motor skills at a level equivalent to that of a one-year-old and has bizarre, amber, cat-like eyes. The villagers choose to welcome and nurture him, naming him Falk (Yellow). They teach him to speak, educate him about the Earth, and teach him from a book they consider holy, which seems to be a long translated version of the Tao Te Ching. Also they teach him that the never-seen "Shing" are conquerors who rule the Earth through fear.

After six years, Falk is told by the leader of the community that he needs to understand his origins, and as such sets off alone for Es Toch, the city of the Shing in the mountains of western North America. He encounters many obstacles to learning the truth about himself and about the Shing, along with evidence of the barbarism of current human society. Along the way, it is sometimes suggested to him that the image he holds of the Shing is a distorted one; that they respect the idea of 'reverence for life' and are essentially benevolent and non-alien rulers. This suggestion comes mainly from Estrel, a young woman whom Falk meets after being captured by the Basnasska tribe in the great plains. Falk escapes this violent community with Estrel, to reach the city under her guidance.

Falk finally reaches Es Toch, where Estrel betrays him into the hands of the Shing and laughs as she does so. He is told that he is part of a crew of a starship of alien/human hybrids from a planet called Werel and meets a young man, Orry, who came with him in the ship. (Werel is evidently the world on which, several centuries earlier, the action of Planet of Exile took place). At this point it becomes clear that Estrel is a human collaborator working for the Shing, and that she had been sent to retrieve him from the wilds of so-called Continent 1. Falk is told by the Shing that they are in fact humans; and that the conflict between the League and an alien invader never occurred. On the contrary the League self-destructed through civil war and exploitation. The "enemy" is an invention of the Shing rulers themselves to try and ensure through fear that world peace endures under their benevolent, if misunderstood, rule. Falk is told that his expedition was attacked by rebels who then erased Falk's memory of his previous self. The Shing, who managed to save only Orry from the rebel attack, now want to restore Falk's previous identity. Falk however believes that the Shing are non-human liars and that their true intent is to determine where his home-planet is, for their own purposes.

Seeing no other way forward, Falk consents to have his memory erased: the mind of the original Werelian, Agad Ramarren, is restored and the Falk personality apparently destroyed. He emerges as a new person with pre-Falk memories and vastly greater knowledge. Ramarren's first name, Agad, recalls Jakob Agat, one of the chief protagonists of Planet of Exile: of whom he is presumably a descendant. However, thanks to a memory triggering mnemonic device Falk had left for himself (an instruction, through young Orry, to read the beginning of the book he travels with, his translation of the Tao Te Ching), the Falk personality is revived. After some instability Falk's and Ramarren's minds come to coexist. By comparing the knowledge given to them before and after Ramarren's reemergence, the joint minds are able to detect the essential dishonesty of the Shing's rule and the fact that the alien conquerors can lie telepathically. It was this power that had enabled the not very numerous Shing: "exiles or pirates or empire-builders from some distant star", to overthrow the League of All Worlds twelve centuries before. The Werelians' mental powers are significantly greater than those of ordinary humans and the Shing, inhibited by a cultural dread of killing or being killed, would have no effective defence against them. Still ignorant of the survival of the Falk persona, the Shing hope to send Ramarren back to Werel to present their version of Earth as a happy garden planet prospering under their benign guidance and in no need of outside help. Falk-Ramarren now fully aware of the brutalised and misruled reality, pretends to accept this, postponing the return journey. Eventually, while on a pleasure trip to view another part of the Earth, the Shing he is with takes telepathic control of Ramarren but is then overcome by Falk, operating as a separate person. Now controlling the Shing, he makes his escape, manipulating his prisoner to show him where to find the ship that would take him home, and how to program it. (He discovers here that the Shing use a totally alien system of maths, quite different from the Cetian maths used by all human worlds.) Falk-Ramarren finally leaves for his planet, with Orry and the enemy Shing he had used. He can go back home and organize the liberation of the Earth, but this means cutting himself off from his friends there. He will always be alone. It seems that this mission succeeds - in The Left Hand of Darkness, Genly Ai comes from Earth and remembers the 'Age of the Enemy' as something dreadful but now past. He also knows of the Werelians, now called Alterrans. The fate of the Shing is not mentioned, either there or in any later book.

About the Author Ursula LeGuin

Ursula Le Guin was born and raised in Berkeley, California, the daughter of anthropologist Alfred L. Kroeber and writer Theodora Kroeber. In 1901 Le Guin's father earned the first Ph.D. in anthropology in the United States from Columbia University and went on to found the second department, at the University of California at Berkeley. Theodora Kroeber's biography of her husband, Alfred Kroeber: A Personal Configuration, is a good source for Le Guin's early years and for the biographical elements in her late works, especially her interest in social anthropology.

Ursula LeGuin received her B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa) from Radcliffe College in 1951, and M.A. from Columbia University in 1952. She later studied in France, where she met her husband, historian Charles Le Guin. They were married in 1953. She became interested in literature when she was very young. At the age of eleven she submitted her first story to the magazine Astounding Science Fiction. It was rejected. Her earliest writings, some of which she adapted to include in Orsinian Tales and Malafrena, were non-fantastic stories of imaginary countries. Searching for a publishable way to express her interests, she returned to her early interest in science fiction and began to be published regularly in the early 1960s. She received wide recognition for her novel The Left Hand of Darkness, which won the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1970. In later years, Le Guin did work in film and audio. She contributed to The Lathe of Heaven, a 1979 PBS Film based on her novel of the same name. In 1985, she collaborated with avant-garde composer David Bedford on the libretto of Rigel 9, a space opera.

Much of Ursula Le Guin's science fiction places a strong emphasis on the social sciences, including sociology and anthropology, thus placing it in the subcategory known as soft science fiction. Her writing often makes use of alien cultures to convey a message about human culture in general. An example is the exploration of sexual identity through an androgynous race in The Left Hand of Darkness. Such themes can place her work in the category of feminist science fiction, but not necessarily so. Her works are also often concerned with ecological issues.

In her writing, Le Guin makes use of the ordinary actions and transactions of everyday life. For example, in 'Tehanu' it is central to the story that the main characters are concerned with the everyday business of looking after animals, tending gardens and doing domestic chores. While she has often used otherworldly perspectives to explore political and cultural themes, she has also written fiction set much closer to home; many of her short stories are set in our world in the present or near future. Several of Ursula LeGuin's science fiction works, including her novels The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness, belong to her Hainish Cycle, which details a future, galactic civilization loosely connected by an organizational body known as the Ekumen. Many of these works deal with the consequences of contact between different worlds and cultures. The Ekumen serves as a framework in which to stage these interactions. For example, the novels The Left Hand of Darkness and The Telling deal with the consequences of the arrival of Ekumen envoys (known as "mobiles") on remote planets and the culture shock that ensues.

Unlike those in much mainstream science fiction, none of the civilizations Ursula Le Guin depicts possess reliable faster-than-light travel. Instead, Ursula LeGuin created the ansible, a device that allows instantaneous communication over any distance. The term and concept have been subsequently borrowed by several other well-known authors.Le Guin has received several Hugo and Nebula awards, and was awarded the Gandalf Grand Master award in 1979 and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Award in 2003. She has received eighteen Locus Awards for her fiction, more than any other author. Her novel The Farthest Shore won the National Book Award for Children's Books in 1973. Ursula Le Guin was the Professional Guest of Honor at the 1975 World Science Fiction Convention in Melbourne, Australia. She received the Library of Congress Living Legends award in the "Writers and Artists" category in April 2000 for her significant contributions to America's cultural heritage. In 2004, Le Guin was the recipient of the Association for Library Service to Children's May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award and the Margaret Edwards Award. She was honored by The Washington Center for the Book for her distinguished body of work with the Maxine Cushing Gray Fellowship for Writers on 18 October 2006. Robert Heinlein in part dedicated his 1982 novel Friday to Ursula LeGuin.

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