Table of contents for Changing planes / Ursula K. Le Guin.
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Contents of Changing Planes
with a little description
The author acknowledges the readers' discomfort with air travel after 9-11.
Sita Dulip's Method
How Sita Dulip, sitting between flights in an awful airport, learned to travel to other planes of existence by focusing her mind in a certain way. The result: a more interesting kind of tourism.
The Porridge on Islac
On Islac, people are physically very different from one another: the aftermath of an unfortunate boom and crash in genetic engineering. Cautionary, humorous, with a touch of poetry (bearwigs are recombinant teddy bears that developed a taste for book glue and paper).
The Wisdom of the Asonu
The Asonu become silent as they mature: their total abstinence from language is unsettling.
Questioning the Hennebet
The Hennebet look just like us, but their minds (sort of Taoist) are totally alien. The traveler tries to but cannot communicate with them
a glimpse of their worldview makes her less sure about her own.
The Angry Veksi
A society torn by violence, which, however, has its human rules of conduct. (It's about human violence, of course.)
Social Dreaming of the Frin
A society in which dreaming is communal, not personal. Fascinating examination of the idea that some loss of self is necessary for selfhood.
The Royals of Hegn
Satire of the Brits and their absurd fascination with royalty. In Hegn, everyone is royal and comeletely dotty about the very few Commoners (who are really low-class).
Tales of Blood from Mahigul
Histories that are political allegories of man's inhumanity to man. All about war, tyranny, self-destruction. (Male-dominated, of course.)
An experiment to make children smarter by having them require less sleep, then no sleep at all, backfires: without sleep, people become mindless animals. (Another approach to the loss-of-self idea.)
The Nna Mmoy Language
A language so alien and complex, it contains an entire culture (its speakers live primitively). The traveler's vain attempts to use a translating machine.
This account of two cultures and of a migration to build a mysterious building, generation after generation, touches on the question, What is art? That is, the transcendental, nonutilitarian strivings of human beings. (Influence of Borges here).
The Gyran Hatred of Wings
The blessing and the curse (more curse than blessing) of growing wings and flying. The Gyr put up with-try to ignore-their affliction, going about their business as lawyers, accountants, etc. Yet the inspiring image of flight remains.
The Island of the Immortals
A horror story, worse than "Wake Island," and probably from Gulliver's Travels: some people, bitten by a fly, cannot die. Buried alive, after centuries, they turn to diamonds, still alive.
Confusion in Uñi
A virtual reality satire taken from the pages of Stanislaw Lem: the traveler becomes lost in a VR machine and passes from one ridiculous dream to another.
Big business and the travel industry produce a monstrous Disneylike theme park, exploiting the natives. Humorous (a village full of Santa Clauses that speak with an accent), but also acerbic, being close to home.
The Seasons of the Ansarac
A society that alternates between city life and country life, each having its joys and miseries. Commentary on the mortality of humanity: its sorrow alleviated by a sexual dance.
Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Fantasy fiction, American, Imaginary societies, Voyages, Imaginary