|The Word for World is Forest, by Ursula LeGuin
||[Jul. 3rd, 2010|09:55 pm]
Review copy provided by Tor.
This is another really lovely physical object. It's possible that Tor is putting out some stinkers in the book design department and just not sending them to me for review, but this is not one, and I don't recall seeing any. I love the photo on the cover--I would love to see more photo covers in the speculative genres, especially ones like this that are carefully chosen to be genuine photos, not tricks, and still convey a speculative feel. The leaf motif repeated throughout the chapter headings is also extremely fine.
Unfortunately, the book itself...well, I see what it's doing in the field, is what. But it starts out from the perspective of one Captain Davidson, and it made me immediately subtitle the book in my own head. My subtitle is "Planet of the Jerks." If I wasn't reading it for review, I'm not sure I would have gotten past that first chapter, because there wasn't really anything that made me want to spend more time with that character--and having finished the book, I never did get to the point where there was anything more that made me want to spend time with him.
The title is so vivid, and the characters, for me, split into Standard Issue LeGuin Noble Savage Archetype (complete with dream imagery) and...well, mostly jackasses. So I can see where this book goes in the history of the genre, and why; I can see why it was written when it was written. I can see the shape of the Vietnam War in it, and the shadow of the feminism that hadn't yet come in on it. But for me it was more of historical interest than anything else. Mileage, of course, varying, but I'd be interested to hear from someone else who'd read it recently and had a different experience.