Loved Books: Rocannon’s World & Planet of Exile

Paul Weimer recently had a review of Planet of Exile at Skiffy & Fanty: https://skiffyandfanty.com/blogposts/blogseries/miningthegenreasteroid/planetofexile/

I love that early Le Guin story and I wanted to find my copy. I’d mentioned the odd version I had back when I wrote about Le Guin just after she died. However, I can see I misremembered some things about it. I said that it was a US edition but it isn’t. It is clearly priced in pounds and for the UK/Australia (and Malta!) market. Other things are true though. It was an odd size and it was a two-for-one version with Rocannon’s World. I think it was the cover art that made me remember it as being an American.

The back cover is very British and also pitched at respectability with quotes from The Times and The Observer about how important Le Guin is. Whereas the cover is all pew-pew-flying-saucer-spearmen-yeah!

The imprint is “Star”. I can’t say that is familiar but it was ‘The paperback division of W.H.Allen’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W.H._Allen%26_Co.

Together with City of Illusions, these books form a sort of trilogy of stories set in Le Guin’s Hainish universe but in the timeline chronologically after most of her later stories*. The connecting theme is a war or conflict with an unusual enemy whose actions form part of the background to the first two books and who are revealed in City of Illusions. The story of that war/conflict is not something Le Guin ever returned to, so the three books form a partial narrative of fictional events.

Anyway, this copy has somehow managed to work it’s way over three continents with me.

*[Maybe. The Lefthand of Darkness can be read as being later than all three and is clearly after Rocannon’s World or (more credibly) Le Guin didn’t expect the books to have a consistent history.]

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7 thoughts on “Loved Books: Rocannon’s World & Planet of Exile

  1. Purely coincidentally (I received the Library of America 2-volume Le Guin collection as a birthday present just a couple of months previously), I read all three of these (plus reread Left Hand of Darkness) shortly before Le Guin passed away. The thing that most impressed me was that even her first novel, the not-entirely-original Rocannon’s World (in the introduction Le Guin admits that her two alien species are pretty much just elves and dwarves) is just superbly well written. She really was a remarkable talent.

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  2. I definitely remember reading “Semley’s Necklace”, which Wikipedia says was the first part of Rocannon’s World, but the rest of the plot isn’t ringing any bells. I wonder if I found it in some other collection.

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  3. There’s a reference to the “age of the Enemy” at one point in Left Hand of Darkness, isn’t there? And Genly Ai talks about reconstructing the interstellar community after this… I’d always read LHoD as considerably later than the others, and I think they’re all loosely consistent, at least.

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    1. I’ll need to re-read it but that rings a bell now that you mention it. I guess I think of the later Hainish novels being closer in style and hence closer in time but the opposite is the case.

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  4. I think Semleys necklace was published in The winds twelve quarters as a short story (there was also two short Earthsea stories written before Wizard in that collection)

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