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The Telling    by Ursula K. Le Guin order for
by Ursula K. Le Guin
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2000 (2000)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* * *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

Sutty is an Anglo-Indian outsider in a world unified by religious despotism. She has become an Observer for the interstellar Ekumen and assigned to Aka. This world is now governed by the Corporation State and bears some similarity to Cultural Revolution China. This State has repressed all other customs and beliefs, replacing them by a cult of scientific and material progress.

Sutty is encouraged by her Ekumen superior, and permitted by the Corporation (for reasons that are never fully explained) to travel alone outside the capital city to a small, backward town in the shadow of a great mountain. Here she slowly discovers the remnants of the cruelly suppressed culture and tries to understand the individuals that she grows to love, and their unique religion, the Telling.

This is vintage Le Guin; elegant, poetic and highly compressed. She makes The Telling almost believable, though I found the hints, and the two specific instances of supernatural intervention, superfluous. The optimistic ending, also, did not ring quite true. Of course I could be wrong: I am going to read the book a second time to find out.

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