Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

A human colony is using an alien planet for timber and is using local natives as slave labor. One day the natives decide to fight back. About 2000 humans against a few million natives, how will it end?

A thinly disguised allegory of the Vietnam war, fairly black and white, and very rooted in the attitudes and even customs of late sixties. Most of the characters are crude stereotypes. The book also has some totally ridiculous premises - transporting logs across light years as in the earth "wood is more valuable than gold" - it is hard to think about any application where wood would so irreplaceable. And if all trees in earth would have died, and no new trees could be grown, ecosphere would be irreplaceable destroyed anyway. The natives are supposed to have some kind dreaming ability, which is emphasized on the blurb of the book - but it isn't really used to any real purpose other than for some hippy nonsense about alpha waves. Also, one person uses ergots for his migraine, apparently medical treatments haven't advanced at all after sixties – or the author has severe lack of skill in extrapolation :-). As nutshell, well written book which so tied to its' time, that it feels pretty old fashionable.

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