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July 17, 2017


Ursula Le Guin

by N@ncy


What is my first impression?

  1. That reading anything by Ursula Le Guin will challenge you.
  2. You have to  read between the lines and
  3. unveil the conflicts that the text carefully covers up.
  4. Ursula Le Guin writes about speculative fiction…what if.
  5. Her books focus on psychological states and perceptions.
  6. Le Guin writes more about the inner space.
  7. PS: I enjoy 1 short story by Le Guin
  8. ….more than a entire novels by other writers!


Title:    Vaster  Than Empires and More Slow

  1. The title of the story is taken from a poem by Andrew Marvell:
  2. titled “To His Coy Mistress
  3. The line from which the title is derived reads:
  4. “Our vegetable love should grow/Vaster than empires, and more slow.”



  1. Group of surveyors are on a exploratory  mission to World 4470,
  2. Could they establish a new colony in this  alien world?
  3. Something big had tried to attack Porlark, a crew member, in the forest.
  4. Osden is the group’s Sensor.
  5. He must attempt to detect any presence of intelligent life.
  6. Could Osden confirm that there is a sentient-life form in the forest?
  7. Days later in the forest Osden failed to call in to the mother ship as agreed.
  8. The explorers find him badly beaten…but still alive.
  9. What happened?


  1. Osden:
  2. All his life he feels himself an outsider….an alien.
  3. He yearns to be whole.
  4. “To have roots and no enemies. To be entire.  Do you see?
  5. No invasion. No others…to be whole.”


Character revealed:

  1. Osden has changed under the influence of the vegetative intelligence.
  2. Despite his singular power of empathy… he says in the beginning:
  3. “Can’t you understand that I don’t give a damn about all of you?
  4. On the last page….as Osden choses to disappear into the forest he says:
  5. “Listen, I will you well” before leaving his colleagues


Image:  forest-mind

  1. Osden fell and lay sunk in the roots of the forest.
  2. “I felt the fear and it kept growing.
  3. As if they’d finally known I was there
  4. lying on them, under them, among them…
  5. ..the thing they feared.”


Epiphany moment:    the forest mind evokes rejection

  1. “It’s message is rejection.
  2. But rejection is my salvation.
  3. It’s not intelligent.    But I am”
  4. Osden explains that he picks up more than the fear…
  5. …before the ‘forest-mind’ panicked…there was serenity.
  6. Osden says as he jumps out the door…” I am coming.”



  1. He had taken the fear into himself
  2. ….accepting, had transcended it.
  3. He had given up his self to the alien,
  4. …and unreserved surrender.



  1. Osden’s disillusionment turned into
  2. ….a good thing, the wise thing.
  3. He learned to accept the fear….it opened doors and
  4. dissolved what was not longer useful.
  5. What one fears is alien….
  6. Go with it. Look boldly at all beliefs, not cynically.
  7. Look fairly.
  8. Do not be too quick to find answers  set in stone.
  9.  Stay open, flexible.
6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jul 18 2017

    I’ve not read this but when I was teaching I read The Wizard of Earthsea to a couple of my classes – the kids loved it and so did I!


    • Jul 18 2017

      I hope she wins the Nobel Prize this year!



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