A Treasure Trove of Classic Ursula K. Le Guin: The Hainish Novels and Stories from the Library of America

A Treasure Trove of Classic Ursula K. Le Guin: The Hainish Novels and Stories from the Library of America

The Hainish Novels and Stories Library of America

Here’s a delightful find: buried in all the usual news on forthcoming books and new releases I get every week was an understated announcement about this massive compilation of all of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Hanish novels and stories, to be published in the attractive slip case above by the Library of America.

And I do mean massive. The two volume set is a whopping 1,921 pages. It contains 8 complete novels (include her Hugo and Nebula Award-winning volumes The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed) and 17 stories, including the complete story cycle Five Ways to Forgiveness, plus several appendixes. It will be edited by Brian Attebery, and both volumes include new introductions by Le Guin. It arrives in hardcover on September 5, 2017.

Now you know one of the reasons I’m excited about this book is that it contains the complete text of over half a dozen vintage paperbacks, including a pair of the most acclaimed science fiction novels of the 20th Century, in handsome archival-quality hardcovers. And you know what that means — I can’t resist showing you the original paperback covers (front and back). Here they are.

[Click the images for bigger versions.]

First, here’s the description.

In such visionary masterworks as the Nebula and Hugo Award winners The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin redrew the map of modern science fiction, imagining a galactic confederation of human colonies founded by the planet Hain, an array of worlds whose divergent societies — the result of both evolution and genetic engineering — allow her to speculate on what is intrinsic in human nature. Now, for the first time, the complete Hainish novels and stories are collected in a deluxe two-volume Library of America boxed set, with new introductions by the author.

Voiume one gathers the first five Hainish novels: Rocannon’s World, in which an ethnologist sent to a bronze-age planet must help defeat an intergalactic enemy; Planet of Exile, the story of human colonists stranded on a planet that is slowly killing them; City of Illusions, which finds a future Earth ruled by the mysterious Shing; and the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning masterpieces The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed — as well as four short stories, and several appendixes. It is edited by Brian Attebery, and will be published on September 5th.

Volume two presents Le Guin’s final two Hainish novels, The Word for World Is Forest, in which Earth enslaves another planet to strip its natural resources, and The Telling, the harrowing story of a society which has suppressed its own cultural heritage. Rounding out the volume are seven short stories and the story suite Five Ways to Forgiveness, published here in full for the first time.

The endpapers feature Le Guin’s own hand-drawn map of Gethen, the planet that is the setting for The Left Hand of Darkness, and a full-color chart of the known worlds of Hainish descent.

And here’s the novels contained in Volume One.

Rocannon's World Ace-small Rocannon's World Ace-back-small
Planet of Exile-small Planet of Exile-back-small
City of Illusions-small City of Illusions-back-small
The Left Hand of Darkness-small The Left Hand of Darkness-back-small
The Dispossessed-small The Dispossessed-back-small

Here’s the complete TOC for Volume One.

Volume One

Rocannon’s World

Planet of Exile

City of Illusions

The Left Hand of Darkness

The Dispossessed


– “Winter’s King”
– “Vaster Than Empires and More Slow”
– “The Day Before the Revolution”
– “Coming of Age in Karhide”


Introduction to Rocannon’s World
Introduction to Planet of Exile
Introduction to City of Illusions
Introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness
A Response, by Ansible, from Tau Ceti
Is Gender Necessary? Redux
Winter’s King (1969 version)

Here’s the contents of Volume Two, including what looks like an expanded version of Le Guin’s 1995 collection Four Ways to Forgiveness.

The Word for World Is Forest-small The Word for World Is Forest-back-small

Four Ways to Forgiveness

The Telling Ursula Le Guin-small

And here’s the TOC.

Volume Two

The Word for World is Forest


“The Shobies’ Story”
“Dancing to Ganam”
“Another Story or A Fisherman of the Inland Sea”
“Unchosen Love”
“Mountain Ways”
“The Matter of Seggri”

Story Suite: Five Ways to Forgiveness

– “Betrayals”
– “Forgiveness Day”
– “A Man of the People”
– “A Woman’s Liberation”
– “Old Music and the Slave Women”
– Notes on Werel and Yeowe

The Telling


Introduction to The Word for World Is Forest
On Not Reading Science Fiction

The Complete Orsinia

The Hainish Novels and Stories is not the only Le Guin volume available from The Library of America. In September of last year they produced The Complete Orsinia, also edited by Brian Attebery. It contains the novel Malafrena and Stories and Songs. It is 700 pages, priced at $35. See their website for complete details.


In October Saga Press published The Selected Short Fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin (which we covered here), also in two volumes — and also available in a handsome boxed set! It’s a great time to be a Le Guin fan.

Ursula K. Le Guin: The Hainish Novels and Stories will be published by the Library of America on September 5, 2017. It is 1921 pages, priced at $60 in hardcover. There is no digital edition. See the Library of America website for complete details.

The Library of America has published some terrific and enduring work by the greatest SF and mystery writers in American history, including Kurt Vonnegut, Dashiell Hammett, Philip K. Dick, Ross Macdonald, David Goodis, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and many others. We’ve covered several here recently, including:

Four Novels of the 1970s and 1980s by Elmore Leonard
The Library of America Publishes Elmore Leonard — Again
The Library of America Publishes Ross Macdonald
A Princess of Mars and Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s, edited by Gary K. Wolfe
American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny, edited by Peter Straub

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Allen Snyder

Well, I tried to buy them, but their website is *horrible*. They need to hire some competent programmers. (And you know I’m a longtime online buyer, going way back to the mid-90s, so I know bad user interfaces and checkout methods, but I couldn’t even successfully make it through this one.)

Allen Snyder

All right. It was not user-friendly in the slightest, but I made it through the ordering process to get both “The Hainish Novels and Stories” and “The Complete Orsinia.” And since it was my first visit, I also received 10% off on top of “The Complete Orsinia” currently being on sale for $31.50.

Now off to look for The Collected Short Fiction. 😉

Sarah Avery

I think when word got out that Le Guin had been shortlisted for the Nobel, there was a rush to reprint. And then the Nobel committee threw the thing away on a guy who manifestly had not use for it. If she’d won the Nobel, those beautiful editions would probably stick around through many printings. As it is, probably one shouldn’t wait to pick them up.


“Rocannon’s World” was actually originally part of Ace Double G-574, the other half of which was Avram Davidson’s “The Kar-Chee Reign.” I still have the copy I bought new when it was published. The cover is somewhat similar to the edition you show here.


I don’t think I have “Planet of Exile,” doubled with Thomas Disch’s “Mankind under the Leash,” but that also pre-dated the edition pictured here —

Eugene R.

A related note of interest is hearing from John Crowley that he will be reviewing the LoA Hainish collection for The Atlantic when the books are published in September.

[…] Finally, if you’ve got the bucks and the inclination, Black Gate also informs us that Le Guin’s SF (Orsinia doesn’t count) has made the big time along with PKD and some 50s novels: “A Treasure Trove of Classic Ursula K. Le Guin: The Hainish Novels and Stories from the Library of Am….” […]

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