Hainish Novels and Stories
[Hainish Novels & Stories boxed set] [Vol. 1] [Vol. 2] at Powell’s Bookstore
“Pure imagining,” within limits: Ursula K. Le Guin on The Hainish Novels & Stories, at Library of America.
Le Guin: At this rate, if I don’t watch out, I may begin feeling respectable: a terrible fate for an artist.
Powell's Interview: Ursula K. Le Guin, Author of The Hainish Novels and Stories, by Mary Jo Schimelpfenig, at Powell’s website.
About the Ansible
From the Introduction to Volume Two
Long ago I made up the ansible, a device that would permit people light-years apart to talk to one another without interval. Most science-fictional spaceships go much faster than light (FTL), but mine stolidly obey Einstein, going only nearly as fast as light (NAFAL). Travel through the Hainish galaxy involves the Einsteinian paradoxes of time dilation. The traveler in a NAFAL ship traversing the distance of a hundred light-years experiences the interval between departure and arrival as very brief, perhaps an hour or two, while on the home world and the destination more than a century is passing. Such gaps in relative time would forbid any continuous interchange of information between worlds. This is why FTL is so popular: you really can’t have a Galactic War without it. I didn’t want a war, but I did want my worlds to be able to talk with one another, so in 1966 I introduced the ansible. Later on, I met its inventor, Shevek, the temporal physicist in The Dispossessed, who could explain the principles on which it functions much better than I can. I’m pleased that several other science fiction writers have found the ansible useful — stealing ideas is plagiarism, but both art and science function by sharing them.
Around 1990 I was allured by the notion of transilience, the transfer of a physical body from one point in space-time to another without interval. The Cetian word for it is churten*. From time to time it has, as it were, been done. Madeleine L‘Engle called it a wrinkle in time. Sometimes I think my cat churtens downstairs, but I do not know how he does it. My stories about churtening indicate that, even after doing it, nobody is certain how they did it or that it can be done more than once in the same way. In this it much resembles life.
* ”The Shobies’ Story,” ”Dancing to Ganam,” and “Another Story, or A Fisherman of the Inland Sea.” All are in Volume 2 of the Library of America Hainish Novels and Stories.
by Brian Attebery
“I was struck not only by how good they are but how important, which is a harder thing to articulate....” [Complete article at LoA]
Story of the Week
Endpapers for The Hainish Novels and Stories
Gethen Map by UKL
Website Copyright © 2017 Ursula K. Le Guin