The Unreal and the Real: Where on Earth

Get Volume 2 here.

A century from now people will still be reading the fantasy stories of Ursula K Le Guin with joy and wonder. Five centuries from now they might ask if their author ever really existed, or if Le Guin was an identity made from the work of many writers rolled into one. A millennium on and her stories will be so familiar, like myths and fairytales today, that only dedicated scholars will ask who wrote them. Such is the fate of the truly great writers, whose stories far outlive their names.”
The Guardian

Ursula K. Le Guin’s stories have shaped the way many readers see the world. By giving voice to the voiceless, hope to the outsider, and speaking truth to power—all the time maintaining her independence and sense of humor—she has proven herself one of our greatest writers.

This two-volume selection of Le Guin’s stories—as selected by the author—omits stories directly connected to novels. The first volume, Where on Earth, focuses on Le Guin’s interests in realism and magic realism and includes stories from The Compass Rose, Orsinian Tales, The Wind’s Twelve Quarters, Buffalo Gals, Searoad, and Unlocking the Air.

The Unreal and the Real is a much-anticipated event which will delight, amuse, and provoke.

New: Listen to an interview with Ursula K. Le Guin on the Writer’s Voice.

Read an interview with Ursula K. Le Guin on Wired.


“The Unreal and the Real guns from the grim to the ecstatic, from the State to the Garden of Eden, with just one dragon between. (Every collection needs one dragon.) In every good career-spanning collection, you can observe an author growing into her authority. Here, every story, in its own way and from its own universe, told in its own mode, explains that there is no better spirit in all of American letters than that of Ursula Le Guin.”
Slate“No Better Spirit”

“The first of a two-volume collection focuses on stories that are occasionally tinged with magic but remain primarily realistic…. This volume shows that SFWA Grand Master Le Guin can make as great a mark outside genre fiction as she did within it.”
Publishers Weekly

Table of Contents

Volume One: Where on Earth

“Introduction: Choosing and Dividing”
“Brothers and Sisters”
“A Week in the Country”
“Unlocking the Air”
“Imaginary Countries”
“The Diary of the Rose” [audio; BBC Radio 7, read by Laurel Lefkow]
“The Direction of the Road”
“The White Donkey”
“Gwilan’s Harp”
“May’s Lion”
“Buffalo Gals”
“Horse Camp”
“The Lost Children”
“The Water is Wide”
“Hand, Cup, Shell”
“Ether, OR”
“Half Past Four

Praise for Ursula K. Le Guin’s short story collections:

“She wields her pen with a moral and psychological sophistication rarely seen… and while science fiction techniques often buttress her stories they rarely take them over. What she really does is write fables: splendidly intricate and hugely imaginative tales about such mundane concerns as life, death, love, and sex.”

“Delicious . . . her worlds are haunting psychological visions molded with firm artistry.”
Library Journal

“Witty, satirical and amusing. Yet it is the author’s more serious work that displays her talents best, as she employs recurring themes and elements-cultural diversity, unlikely heroes and heroines, power’s ability to corrupt, love’s power to guide-and considers characters and types (women, children, the differently sexed and gendered) so often disenfranchised by other, more technologically oriented SF writers. . . . [A] classy and valuable collection.”
Publishers Weekly

“A master of the craft.”
—Neil Gaiman

“Like all great writers of fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin creates imaginary worlds that restore us, hearts eased, to our own.”
The Boston Globe

“There is no more elegant or discerning expositor than Le Guin.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Admirers of fine literature, fantastic or not, will cherish this rich offering.”
Publishers Weekly

Cover by John D. Berry.
Cover art: “Wildcat” copyright 2010 by Paul Roden & Valerie Lueth, Tugboat Printshop.

Ursula K. Le Guin has published twenty-one novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received the Hugo, Nebula, Endeavor, Locus, Tiptree, Sturgeon, PEN-Malamud, and National Book Award and the Pushcart and Janet Heidinger Kafka prizes, among others.

In recent years she has received lifetime achievement awards from World Fantasy Awards, Los Angeles Times, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, and Willamette Writers, as well as the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Award and the Library of Congress Living Legends award. Le Guin was the recipient of the Association for Library Service to Children’s May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award and the Margaret Edwards Award.

Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia, The Wild Girls, an essay collection, Cheek by Jowl, and Finding My Elegy, New and Selected Poems. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

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