Rocannon's World

English language

Published Nov. 1, 1984


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3 stars (4 reviews)

Rocannon's World is a science fiction novel by American writer Ursula K. Le Guin, her literary debut. It was published in 1966 as an Ace Double, along with Avram Davidson's The Kar-Chee Reign, following the tête-bêche format. Though it is one of Le Guin's many works set in the universe of the technological Hainish Cycle, the story itself has many elements of heroic fantasy. The hero Gaveral Rocannon encounters lords who live in castles and wield swords, and other races much like fairies and gnomes, in his travels on a backward planet. The word "ansible" for a faster-than-light communicator, was coined in the novel. The term has since been widely used in science fiction.

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Least-favorite LeGuin

3 stars

Ansible—the open-source “infrastructure as code” tool—borrowed its name from this novel.

In the story, an ansible is a faster-than-light (FTL) communication device—words typed on one ansible appear instantaneously light-years away.

This factoid was chief among my reasons for reading this book.

I also read it for completeness sake—“Rocannon’s World” is the first novel in the Hainish Cycle—Ursula K. Le Guin’s epic future history, which includes one of my all-time favorite books: “The Dispossessed.”

But this was my least-favorite Le Guin story I’ve read thus far (although that’s a high bar).

The story was nothing more than your average 1960s sci-fi/bronze-aged castles with flying cats mashup.

While that sounds exciting, the actual book was slow.

There needed to be more plot for such a plot-driven story.


I ride with Olhor, who seeks to hear his enemy’s voice, who has traveled through the great dark, who has seen the World hang …

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