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The Word for World Is Forest

Narrated by: Kevin Pariseau
Length: 5 hrs and 5 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (25 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The planet Athshe was a paradise whose people were blessed with a mystical awareness of existence.

Then the conquerors arrived and began to rape, enslave, and kill humans with a flicker of humanity. The athseans were unskilled in the ways of war, and without weapons. But the gentle tribesmen possessed strange powers over their dreams. And the alien conquerors had taught them how to hate....

©1976 Ursula K. Le Guin (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • 1973 Hugo Award, Best Novella
  • All-Time Best Novellas (Locus Magazine)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Archaon
  • 10-07-2011

She is talent incarnate

Rarely can one find a read so full of deeper, and not instantly obvious, meanings that one has to stop the recording regularly to think about it, while also being wholly enraptured by the tale as it progresses.
Le Guin is a rare breed of writer, a true innovator, a master of literary sorcery.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Margit D. Morawietz
  • 10-06-2012

Classic Tree Hugger Masterpiece

Ursula LeGuin is so much head & shoulders above most other SciFi/Phantasy writers it's not even funny. This world is beautiful and a dream. Allegory with guns, but not a shoot 'em up. Not for every one,it's somewhat slow. This is not a long novel, but so dense I relisten to chapters just to get it all. And then on re -reading/listening get more. Here the author does not spell everything out but it implied in a masterful way, that it engages your own imaginative function.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Aba
  • 24-02-2011

Avatar's influence

Clearly, this book inspired James Cameron's Avatar. I enjoyed Avatar on many levels and appreciated very deep messages (and the not very deep messages). The Word for World is Forest is equally mesmerizing. Well worth your time.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • 19-11-2015

Worth it for the narrator

Every once in a while you listen to a book that's both really well written and really well read. Kevin Pariseau knows pace, voices, and characterization and made this book more amazing than reading the written word.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • 18-08-2018

Leaving the Shadow

"--the anthropologist cannot always leave his own shadow out of the picture he draws--"
- Ursula K. Le Guin, The Word for the World is Forest

The more Le Guin I read, the more I love her. Reading Le Guin for me these last couple years, reminds me of how I felt when I first discovered John le Carré. They seem to both be able to write the same theme in so many different ways. It makes me think of Monet's many versions of the same church front or pond. Masters all. An artist doesn't have to go very wide to create worlds, sometimes the best worlds are created by just going deep.

In this novel Le Guin explores two cultures colliding. In many ways, this book is an exploration of acculturation. Le Guin's parents were both anthropologists, so some of these ideas pop into many of her books. The novel, while dealing with big themes of cultural anthropology and environmentalism, still doesn't let the themes dominate the narrative. She creates an interesting story, fantastic characters, and lets the themes come naturally. Nothing is forced. Her ideas seem entirely native to the story.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 30-05-2017

amazing however sad story.

this short story is very good to start a discussion on colonization and it's long time effects on the communities, skiing other things. it's hard but worthy to read or hear it

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jonas Blomberg Ghini
  • 02-06-2019

Violence begets violence

This is a very powerful story. And it isn't about how terrible human being, represented by Davidson, are. It's about how, in the face of violence, in the face of degenerate abuse, those abused may be justified in exercising violence as retribution. But, then, they also pay the prize of violence. Guilt, shame, loss of humanity, nightmares.

It really is a brilliant title. Our word for world is a glorified word for dirt. On the other hand, it's in the dirt the forest grows. If this story must be considered moralistic, the moral is that although violence might save you from one enemy, it leaves you defenceless against another. And the question is which enemy is worse.

Sure, Davidson, the main villain of the story, is a caricature of a beast. He's so vile it can be both a little exhausting and a little amusing to suffer his drivel. However, and this is the scary part, as far as I'm concerned, the atrocities he commits were, really, actually committed by real life humans, numerous times over the course of our sordid history. In Le Guin's story, evil springs from Davidson's insane philosophy, a philosophy so far out there, it looks like the ramblings of brainwashed cultist indoctrination victims. We, on the other hand, we, real humans, have no need for nearly as pronounced a framework in order to rationalise those very acts. We'll happily rape and murder our way through the people a town over if we think their blood is off.

Even then, though, the pillaged can retaliate. But only at a price.

This book was worth every second, and I wholeheartedly recommend anyone to read it.

Finally, I saw somewhere that the book is considered some kind of propaganda by certain critics. I think it was in favour of anarchy, though the label of communist propaganda gets slapped on almost anything from the Cold War era that did not align exactly with whatever brand of capitalism was in the wind at the time of publication. Anyway, whatever propaganda this book is supposed to spew, I cannot find it. It's all a beautiful morally grey conflict, where murder is murder, and genocide is genocide.

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  • Beverley Gelonesi
  • 10-07-2018

Fascinating story- but not a happy one!

A very thought provoking read, the story being plausible and straightforward, but underlying is profound storytelling showing progression of different mindsets-innocence to violence, sadness and reconciliation.

Definitely worth reading/ listening. But not recommended if you want a light-hearted read!

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  • Readinguy
  • 13-04-2018

One of LeGuin's best

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I have. I think it may be LeGuin's most beautiful novel--and that's saying something.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Word for World Is Forest ?

The end of the book is particularly affecting. I've gone back to listen to that part agin.

Any additional comments?

LeGuin dedicates this book to her father, who was an anthropologist. The character of the anthropologist in the story is most likely based on her father, and her affection for that character shows. But her knowledge of how to think about different cultures permeates the book. Even the title turns out to be revelatory.

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  • pdk
  • 19-09-2017

classic sci-fi.

the best the genre has to offer. very well read. I recomond all of Ursala K Le Guin.

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  • Isolde
  • 18-07-2018

Extraordinary book, belittling narration

This is a wonderful and important book, as relevant as ever. Le Guin makes no attempt to disguise the social and political messages of this story, nor its clear parallels to our world. It is a brilliant use of multiple view points.
The narrator really interrupts this brilliance by using silly voices and accents. Very distracting, unnecessary, and detracts from the impact of this seminal work of contemporary literature. Audible Frontiers needs to improve its production values, and prevent narrators from making bad choices that detract from the reading experiences.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-02-2018

brilliant, well performed, failed by sound design

the words are not noise to be covered by other noise. scrap the sound design

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • James Lomas
  • 07-02-2019

Great short fable, really well narrated.

Before Dances With Wolves and Avatar there was The Word For World is Forest. A novella dealing with racism and human rights. The narrator does an excellent job with the 3 main characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Spencer Thomas
  • 07-10-2018

first ebook

This ebook was well narrated from start to finish. I like the narration voice even if I didn't like all of the character voices. This is my second Ursula k leguin book, and I am thoroughly enjoying the way she describes humans interacting with other races, what things are shared in common and ultimately what things stand in the way of deeper relationships. looking for another Ekumen novel as my third go.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • jesjaspers
  • 08-03-2019

Written in 1972 and still relevant today

As relevant today as ever and no doubt will be relevant in the centuries from now when Humans meet others. Full of ecological and ethnographic relavance. Great story well told Perhaps one of Le Guin's best

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  • Anonymous User
  • 24-01-2019

unique and important<br />

really a very unique read and the parallels drawn to both colonial history and systemic ecological destruction made for a tale of depth.

A short story but well rounded and full of interesting characters.

A few people had a problem with the narration but actually quite enjoyed it.

If you are not sure what to listen to next are feel intrigued by the synopsis go for it.