The Wind's Twelve Quarters and The Compass Rose by Ursula K. Le Guin

pinkthinkydink's review

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adventurous challenging emotional funny hopeful inspiring mysterious reflective sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


emilyplun's review against another edition

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  • Plot- or character-driven? Character


Read and reviewed The Wind's Twelve Quarters, the first of the two short story collections in the book

sophieboddington's review

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adventurous reflective


theaurochs's review against another edition

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Well, technically my average for the all the stories in this collection works out at 3.27. But I'm feeling generous and rounding up; the good stories are good enough to drag the average up anyway!
Le Guin is a beautiful writer as always, and here she expresses a wide-ranging imagination, but often expresses similar themes. I was however surprises by the lack of consistency overall- there are some genuine duds in amongst the gems.
Too much really going on to discuss in detail or I'd be here forever, so I'll just highlight some of my faves: Some Approaches to the Problem of the Shortage of Time, Sur, The Diary of the Rose, Direction of the Road, Vaster than Empires and More Slow

fishface's review

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adventurous challenging dark lighthearted mysterious reflective sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


I am so in love with Ursula K. Le Guin. I wish I could have met her... :(

annalise's review

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adventurous challenging reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


purpleberryblue's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging dark emotional funny hopeful inspiring mysterious reflective sad fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


isabellarobinson7's review against another edition

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Rating: 3.5 stars

Ok so I had hoped to get this review out sooner, because I had taken rather extensive notes so I just needed to copy and paste them in order and not write too much extra, but this time I have a legitimate excuse! (I have excuses other times but none of them are properly acceptable, but this one is actually valid I promise.) The new Florence + the Machine album Dance Fever came out the day I finished this book (I finished the book in the morning and the album came out midday-ish... Did you need those specifics? Probably not) and you have to understand my tardiness, because the build up to this album was looooong. Not only have the band not put out an album since 2018 - that's four Florence-less years - but the first single from the current one came out in February. And we had to wait until May to get the whole thing. Ok, ok, maybe this isn't that unusual for the music industry, but I don't really follow any modern artists bar F+TM (not saying that the rest of them are not any good, just that I personally have not latched onto them) and all the rest of my favourite artists are from the 70's and 80's, so I am used to getting instant access to entire discographies, so you'll forgive my ignorance. Plus sometimes I am not good at waiting for things. Yeeeeeah *clears throat* OK SO now before we dive to deep into my mental state, let's start the review.

This (double) anthology made me realise how diverse a SFF short story could be. I can remember doing “creative writing” at school and getting annoyed because the word limit never allowed for my giant science fiction adventures (well, the Star Wars rip offs) or any expansive fantasy epics (all heavily Tolkien/Narnia/Percy Jackson inspired). I simply thought that the only way to write those kinds of stories were with screeds upon screeds of pages. And yet, some of Le Guin’s stories here are under ten pages (which still would have been way too long for my school assessments, but I digress) and they are excellent! I wrote some notes on random stories that I found I had opinions on, so good luck making it to the end.

April in Paris
I love this little story, but this could be just based on the fact that it has time travel in it and I am a sucker for time travel. I'm a second generation Whovian, what can I say.

The Masters
I always like the kind of cult like stories were someone is brought up believing everything is a certain way and then something happens that changes their view on the world. This story was more of an undeveloped idea than an actual full fledged short story but I still liked it.

Nine Lives
Sometimes I hate the cloning trope and sometimes I love it. I love the way it was done here. Now I haven't read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, the grandaddy of all clone/genetic scifi stories, so maybe take this with a grain of salt. Also, is it kind of weird that this story was first published in 1969 in Playboy? As in Hugh Hefner Playboy?? I am generally confused.

This was hilarious. I tried tabbing all the funny passages but there was too many. [Edit: ok... I kind of did. This is going to be a long section] It’s like a play on Star Trek: The Original Series in that you have a captain, first mate, chief engineer (who is a Scotsman too, I might add) etc etc on a ship and something goes wrong so they have to fix it. But it is a spoof. There is the Insane Second Mate (also called 'Bats') who is locked in the break room “busy pulling the stuffing out of chairs and sofas, and throwing pool balls at indirect lighting fixtures”; the Communications Officer (or 'Sparks') who won’t talk to anyone because there might be a message coming in while she is talking, so she just sits there and listens to static (the hiss is the noise that stars make):

COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER: Because I'm trying to pick up the message.
CAPTAIN: What message?
COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER: The one we haven't heard before.
CAPTAIN: What for?
COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER: Well, it might indicate where we're going - we and all the other ships of the Fleet.
CAPTAIN: What does it matter where we're going, so long as we're going? Listen, 'Sparks,' I don't like to berate you like this. We'd like to have the upmost faith in you. You're a fantastically good Communications Officer, for a woman. But-
COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER: Excuse me, Captain, I'm getting star hiss. Over and out.

Then there’s the Chief Engineer who has an anti-matter leak which she is trying to stop, because if it continues it will lead to an automatic self destruct (but then the automatic self destruct units are all self destructed so things get worse):

CAPTAIN: You mean the automatic self-destruct units are all self-destructed?
CHIEF ENGINEER: Aye, that's about the size of it, Captain.
CAPTAIN: You mean we can't destruct the ship, if the crack in the Anti-Matter Isolater widens? But if we can't self-destruct, and the Anti-Matter Isolater blows, we'll take the fifty nearest stars and all their planets with us - we'll blow up this whole region of space - if the anti-matter meets an F-2 star, the destruction might become a chain reaction and the entire Galaxy could be destructed!
CHIEF ENGINEER: Weel, we're working hard on that crack, Captain.
CAPTAIN: We? What do you mean, we? There's only one of you down there in the Engine Room. Isn't there?
CHIEF ENGINEER: Aye. But I wish there was a few more.

And lastly we have the Captain (Captain Cook) and First Mate ('Balls'... he's the only male onboard you see) who are arguing about how many people are aboard (Captain says there’s more than five but First Mate is sure he counted right). Oh and then an alien turns up, gets the hiccups from eating soup too quickly, First Mate hunts him down and goes crazy, but then the crew suggest that the alien might also be a male so he is not alone on a ship full of girls and First Mate likes that and his fine. I just have to put the whole thing here, it's too funny:
FIRST MATE: [...] Captain Cook! Captain Cook! This officer is insane!
CAPTAIN: What officer?
CAPTAIN: Oh, now, we just call you that, because you won't use secondary process thinking.
CAPTAIN: All right, everybody. Lunchtime. Mouth to the soup chute, mates! Ready? [...] Soup's on!
INSANE SECOND MATE: What about the alien?
CHIEF ENGINEER: I'll see to the puir wee beastie. Send me another chute of soup, Captain, and I'll catch it in an oilcan and pour it in through the slot. Aye, that's it. Now then. Here I am. Are you ready, beastie? Here it comes!
ALIEN: Num, num.
CHIEF ENGINEER: There's a bonnie beastie. Go to sleep now.
COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER: [...] This is from the alien, I think.
INSANE SECOND MATE: [...] What is it saying?
COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER: It still doesn't speak English.
INSANE SECOND MATE: What's the message, then?
CAPTAIN: Hiccups?
COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER: It has the hiccups. It must have been the tomato rice soup. Here, I'll put it on the intracom. Listen.
CHIEF ENGINEER: Captain, there's a rattling in the forward pipes, and a high pressure area building up amidships. Should I try baking soda?
CAPTAIN: No, no, you never use soda when there's an alien aboard, haven't you read the
Handbook? Try Maalox.
CHIEF ENGINEER: Aye aye, Captain.
CHIEF ENGINEER: There, there, puir wee sleekit cowerin' beastie.
FIRST MATE: Oh, my God, if only I could have shipped aboard a cruiser, where I belong! I'm going mad here! You're all mad. I'm mad
INSANE SECOND MATE: Mr Balls. Listen. Would it make you feel any better if there was another male on board?
FIRST MATE: Another male? Of course it would. Strength! Sanity! Logic! Cleanliness! Godliness! Virility! Yes! Yes!
INSANE SECOND MATE: Even if it was an alien?
FIRST MATE: An alien?
INSANE SECOND MATE: This might, you know, be a male alien.
CAPTAIN: Yes, there's better than a fifty percent chance of that.
FIRST MATE: My God. It might. You're right. It might.
CAPTAIN: That was a good thought, 'Bats.'
INSANE SECOND MATE: Well, it's not my own preference, but I thought it might stabilise Mr Balls.
FIRST MATE: A male alien. A male. By golly. It just might be. Hey. Alien. Are you there?
FIRST MATE: What are you, alien? Hmm? Are you a little boy alien? Hmm?

(But they were all too loud and Communications Officer wants to listen to the stars so shhhh everyone) Ah I will reread this story alone in the future. It is great. Ok need to do next one now.

Vaster Than Empires But More Slow
There was technically some autism representation here and I am not sure how I feel about it. There is an argument to be had to say that no ASD rep is incorrect because of how diverse the community is, but something felt a little off to me here. Someone else on the spectrum could read it and think it was the best representation they had seen and really relate to it, so it is really an individual thing. It also kind of reminded me of Troi from TNG, an empath on a ship of humans.

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas
I loved Le Guin's intro to this story: 
The central idea of this psychomyth, the scapegoat, turns up in Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov, and several people have asked me, rather suspiciously, why I gave the credit to William James. The fact is, I haven't been able to re-read Dostoevsky, much as I loved him, since I was twenty-five, and I'd simply forgotten he used the idea. [...] Of course I didn't read James and sit down and say, Now I'll write a story about that 'lost soul.' It seldom works that simply. I sat down and started a story, just because I felt like it, with nothing but the word 'Omelas' in mind. It came from a road sign: Salem (Oregon) backwards. Don't you read road signs backwards? POTS. WOLS nerdlihc. Ocsicnarf Nas... Salem equals schelomo equals salaam equals Peace. Melas. 0 melas. Omelas. Homme hélas. 'Where do you get your ideas from, Ms Le Guin.?' From forgetting Dostoyevsky and reading road signs backwards, naturally. Where else?

Ok now this is one of Le Guin's most famous works, and everyone has said their piece on it, (there are almost 3,000 reviews on Goodreads for this short story alone) better than I could ever do, so I won't dwell on it too much. It was incredible, obviously. It didn't win the Hugo for nothing. It kind of reminded me of the train track moral dilemma, you know the one where there are three people on track A and one on track B and you have to choose to switch the tracks so that the train goes down A or B. Either way someone's life is going to be ruined. Ahh it's too depressing to think about anymore.

This seemed like an idea that could have been used in a much larger story. Like a proper novella, or even maybe full length novel. I liked the idea, where the whole world has to be tested to determine the level of their sanity and be “helped” accordingly, but I felt there was more that could have been explored that was left largely alone.

The Diary Of The Rose
Dammit I wish I had this machine thingy. It would help me sort out my thoughts and actually be able to say what they were. I could do without the political brainwashing though. Little bit 1984 aren’t we. (Actually, this story got me to reread Orwell's 1984)

You made it? Well done. This review should have its own Goodreads listing it's so long.

kiayaa's review

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adventurous challenging inspiring reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? N/A
  • Strong character development? N/A
  • Loveable characters? N/A
  • Diverse cast of characters? N/A
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? N/A


racheljane96's review

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adventurous mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? N/A