The Word for World is Forest: Ursula K. Le Guin

Le Guin’s amazing sci-fi masterpiece, The Word for World is Forest, explores what it means to be human.

In a future where humans have met outer space humanoids or beings of intelligence, culture, community, and language.  In other words, beings that are more like us than we are like animals or plants.

The novel explores community, military, hierarchy, power, slavery, war, murder, gender, identity, transcendence, dreams, and culture change.

Le Guin introduces us to a world named New Tahiti that humans are colonizing … and where the local humanoid race isn’t accepted as fully human.  Culture differences make negotiation and discussion difficult for the radically dissimilar peoples.  Humans enslave the rather submissive people of Athshe, mistaking their docility for ignorance and simplistic thinking.

The goal of humans on New Tahiti is to set up a imperialistic colony that will become a permanent human settlement and provide resources, the most common being lumber, back to Earth.

The story is told in several chapters with each chapter being narrated by one of three characters, a human military commander named Captain Davidson, a researcher of the native inhabitants employed by the military named Raj Lyubov, and a recently widowed, native Athshean named Selver who becomes a god to his people.

Le Guin’s book has many similarities to James Cameron’s famous movie, Avatar.  In both Avatar and The Word for World is Forest humans are taking resources from a planet and thereby destroying the native people’s habitat, scientists and military officers have conflicting agendas, important neurological or mind connections between beings, and the costs of war.

However, my opinion is that The Word for World is Forest is more sophisticated, realistic, and demanding for it’s readers.  It is a book that questions what being an outsider and different really means, whether we are talking about men and women, Caucasians and Asians, or humans and humanoid aliens.

The Word for World is Forest: Ursula K. Le Guin: 9780765324641: Amazon.com: Books.

When Asian Dudes Talk At Me

Asian guys always say the same things: “Do you have a boyfriend?”
“No.”
“You must be lonely being by yourself.”
I am thinking, ‘Asian men typically don’t view women as completely human. Should I really be listening to your jabber when a dog will make a better companion?’

Daily Life in Korea 11

Western-Asians who move back to Asia: I didn’t really want to stereotype these people, but clearly they are looking for something they couldn’t get in the West.  Maybe it is to find their biological birth parents (and realize they were a million times more loved by their Western-probably white-adoptive parents).  Maybe it is to identify and re-discover their heritage which their Western-Asian parents have lost.  Maybe it is to get the romantic male lead in a movie or a lucrative recording deal with lots of endorsement deals.

Or it could be more sinister.  They could be Asians who want to live in a world with more Asians and less “foreigners”.

Asians tend to flock together no matter what part of the world they are residing in.  I blame their “cliquish” culture for that.

One of my co-teachers dislikes me and our other white American coworker, but she likes the Chinese Canadian native English teacher at her other school.  They went to see a movie together.  I’m just saying.