The Wind’s Twelve Quarters, Volume 2

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Rating: 4 stars

This was a solid collection of fairly early(ish) stories from one of the greats of SF, one who did a lot to show that it could be more than pulp and could be real literature. Here, we have stories like Things, which has one man refusing to acknowledge the End of Things; The Stars Below about an early scientist who runs afoul of the religious authorities of his age and finds shelter in a worked-out mine; and, of course, The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, possibly one of the most famous SF short stories. Hauntingly beautiful, we’re led from the description of a happy, prosperous city, step by step to the dark secret that underpins it all.

In amongst these beautiful pieces, there are more journeyman works. Vaster Than Empires and More Slow has a great premise and tackles interesting issues, but the psychological analyses are of its time. The Field of Vision is another very interesting story but I must confess that it rather lost me by the end. The Day Before the Revolution is a prequel to The Dispossessed, telling the story of Laia Odo, one of the key figures in the society of the novel. There’s also space for some more fun work. Direction of the Road is a humorous piece that I’ve read before and enjoyed every time. The only real misfire for me in this collection was A Trip to the Head, which seems to have themes of memory and identity, or maybe just drugs, I really wasn’t sure.

Book details

ISBN: 9780586046234
Publisher: Panther
Year of publication: 1978

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