LeGuin's 2000 addition to the loose Hainish cycle that began with her very first sci-fi novel in 1966 concerns Sutty, an Observer for the Ekumen federation, who is studying the planet of Aka. The Corporation State of Aka has banned all traditional language and religious practices, and Sutty has been kept to the large and modern city of Dovza. (Much of this resembles recent historical developments far back on Earth.) But she unexpectedly receives permission to travel upcountry, where she meets people who quietly, secretly practice the old ways and beliefs. Much of this involves an oral history told and retold, and known as The Telling. A state Monitor has followed her, however, and her new friends may suffer for her presence, though they urge her on to the final umyazu, a sort of monastery and repository of wisdom hidden deep in the mountains. This stately tale may remind one of any number of repressive 20th century Earth cultures, as well as universal issues of values, memory, traditions, and progress.
This report prepared by David Loftus
The Telling is the latest book in the Ekumen series. Like the others it features a human visitor to a strange world. Aka is a world rather like modern, developing China. The people are in the process of an industrial revolution and the government is intent on repressing and destroying anything old or outmoded. When the heroine, Sully, manages to escape from the empty modern culture to investigate the traditional culture of a backwoods town she finds much more than she bargained for. The book turns into a fight to save what remains of a traditional culture from destruction at the hands of fanatics.
This report prepared by Che Monro