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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Voices by Ursula K. Le Guin 
15th-Oct-2007 11:51 pm
Le Guin, Ursula K. Voices. New York: Harcourt, 2006.
          Summary: Sequel to Gifts. In the occupied city of Ansul, the orphan Memer comes of age in Galvamand's Oracle House. A lover of books where reading is forbidden, she is destined to help lead her city to its liberation.
          Comments: Err...perhaps it's too early to start labeling novels "post-9/11," but I'd say this one fits the bill, given the ways in which it treats the intersection of politics and religion. The Alds come across as some amalgamation of Islamic fundamentalist and loyal Bushie in their intolerance for liberal life and learning and their desire to remake the world in their own image. Oh, and they come from the desert, which I guess would apply to the founders of all Judeo-Christian tradition. Heh.
          To Le Guin's credit, however, she does not resort to easy, crass racializations. The enemy Alds are all light-skinned and woolly-haired, while the people of Ansul are all dark-skinned with dark, straight hair. Memer herself is half-and-half. This sort of thing is, of course, par for the course when it comes to Le Guin novels. That, along with richly-described cultural and religious tradition, a passion for the virtues of intellectual inquiry, and a dash of homosexuality. (An Ald boy named Simme develops a crush on Memer while she is disguised as a boy.)
          Fans of Gifts may be pleased to note that both Orrec and Gry reappear, playing prominent roles as Memer's mentors. As adults, ironically, their characters are much less interesting. Perhaps the realities of maturity are always a letdown. In any case, this novel and the previous have become an ad hoc new young adult series called "Annals of the Western Shore," and there is more to come. I'm sure we haven't seen the last of them or Memer, either. I'd actually like to see more of Simme, too...but I doubt that'll happen. *sighs*
          Notes: hardcover, 1st edition
          Rating: 6.5/10 - Not as good as Gifts, but it was plenty entertaining...if a bit predictable and unsubtly didactic.
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