Has your mind ever wandered to some far-off place while you’ve been waiting at the airport to board your plane? If so, how different or similar are these worlds – also known as “planes” – from our own? Renowned fantasy / science fiction writer Ursula LeGuin explores the answers to both questions in her 2003 book “Changing Planes.”
This book is not written in novel style. Instead, it feels a little more like a travel guide written in a narrative style. Each chapter is devoted to a specific plane, discussing everything from its history and legends, to its landscape, people, and culture. We learn about worlds where personalities are ruled by rage and violence, Christmas shopping is the major industry, genetic experiments have gone horribly wrong, and feathered human-like beings are blessed (or cursed?) with the gift of flight. Each plane is described in such rich detail and completeness, you almost forget that this is a work of uninhibited imagination instead of dedicated research.
Even more important is the thought-provoking nature of “Changing Planes.” Each plane’s conflicts and principles are strikingly relevant to those to our world. Finding those parallels amongst all the wonder, horror, and beauty that LeGuin has invented is without a doubt the intention of this book. And, knowing there is a purpose behind this highly original and colorful offering will convince you to save space on your bookshelf for “Changing Planes.”
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