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Birthday of the World: And Other Stories

The Birthday of the World and Other Stories - Ursula K. Le Guin On one level, LeGuin is the bard of polymorphic perversity (quite literally so in the case of the periodic hermaphroditism on Gethen, first introduced in The Left Hand of Darkness). In this collection of nine stories, she explores the romantic and reproductive strategies of a wide range of human (or at least human-like) societies: complex foursomes on the planet O, equilibrium-oriented reproduction on a generation-spanning starship, gender imbalance on Seggri, radical introversion on Eleven-Soro, the multi-part God-marriage of siblings in an Inca-like society, and a kemmerhouse on Gethen. But these stories aren’t told in a prurient fashion, though there are hints of eroticism throughout; nor in a clinically anthropological way, though the stories suggest a deep back story worthy of an anthropologist’s field notes. Through her attention to character, her care with language, and her strong moral and ethical sense, LeGuin brings these strange cultures and people to life and makes our own arrangements seem just as odd.Full Review