88. (April-May 2020) Always Coming Home by Ursula K. LeGuin

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Hope everyone is staying well.

Well, this is a book about the Kesh. It has heavily influenced my play, but I am not sure what genre it is, even though it is fiction. I find I make a lot of comparisons to PKD that I have read, even though he and UKLG are quite different writers. Looking forward to hearing what it invokes and evokes among and from us.

There are a few editions of this book. I have the LoA edition, but I think that any will do. There are extensions and post mortem releases, feel free to discuss wehat they contribute as well. This had a whole multimedia aspect as well - there is an album of electronic music that goes with it. Very of the time. As far as I am aware there were no figurines though.

Available online and in ebook:

https://www.amazon.ca/s?k=always+coming+home&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=always+coming+home&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Always-Coming-Home-S-F-MASTERWORKS-ebook/dp/B01DT7MWWO/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=always+coming+home&qid=1585673089&sr=8-1 (only 2 pounds!)

[NOTE: GIVEN THIS IS A LONGER BOOK, WE'LL READ THIS BOOK AT THE END OF MAY - Apocryphal]

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Comments

  • 1
    No figurines? Oh, Ursula. Always squandering the marketing possibilities.
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    Hmm this over 800 pages. By the time I get a copy and read it it’ll be about June. Is everyone Ok with making this an April+May book? By all accounts it’s a masterpiece.
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    The first edition clocks in at 525 pages. The LoA edition has lots of additional stuff, and so is bigger. Fine with however much time people want to take.

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    Let’s see what people think. 525 isn’t too bad. Would it lend itself to a midpoint discussion and an end discussion? Like a quasi slow read?
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    On a trivial point, I think this will be #88 not #87 :)

    Either way, I now have the book.

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    @clash_bowley or @NeilNjae - any thoughts here? If people are good with this, I'll order a copy. Deliveries are delayed these days, so it'll take a while to get.

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    I'm OK with it!

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    I'm fine with it. I have the book :)

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    I've already got a soft copy from Amazon. Looking forward to it!

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    Ok, I ordered mine from Indigo - supposedly will come by Mid April.

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    So I can't figure out how to edit my post. Is there a way to change the title? Thanks, BC

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    If accessing by phone and you're getting the 'mobile view' then try scrolling to the bottom and switching to 'full view' - this opens up new options. Otherwise, I think I can easily do it for you. Did you want to change the date from April to April-May? Or did you want to change something else?

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    So the number in the title should be 88 (Thanks @RichardAbbott). My most recent post has a little gear that appears, but not the head of this thread, or my other post on March 31.

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    Now the two from this session have the gear icon when I mouse over the post. Maybe upvoting locks me out, it would change what they voted for?

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    @BarnerCobblewood said:
    Now the two from this session have the gear icon when I mouse over the post. Maybe upvoting locks me out, it would change what they voted for?

    You're allowed to edit a post for an hour after you make it. After that, it seems to be locked.

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    @NeilNjae said:
    You're allowed to edit a post for an hour after you make it. After that, it seems to be locked.

    Ok thanks.

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    Thanks @Apocryphal for changing the title.

    As we are taking a bit longer to read this, shall we do the discussion in one go at the end, or should we have some discussion as we go? Obviously we need to avoid spoilers, but the structure is well, different. I find I still do a lot of page flipping. Might it have influenced a recently popular TV show? Anyway, I suggest that we all try to get about 201 pages in and check in with what we think is the way forward.

    Best, BC

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    When were you planning to have the interim discussion? It helps me to have a deadline!

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    My previous post is first a question: Should we do something before the end of May (say early May?), and second the suggestion of a possible point we could have a discussion about what we have gotten from the book so far. I know that I will prepare according to deadline, rather than working slowly and steadily at a constant rate over the next seven weeks. Not good, but that's the truth about me.

    However, it's not clear when everyone will actually have a copy, so I'm just trying to find out if I need to prepare something in about three or four weeks, or if I can leave my thinking about what to initially say until the end of May.

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    I’m supposed to get mine tomorrow, and will probably start reading toward the end of the weekend. I think everyone else has one or will get a kindle version.

    I think it’s cool to have a few discussions if the book lends itself to that - maybe As many as three: one at the end of April, another mid May, and a wrap up at the end of May?

    However, with book where some people are reading a 545 page edition and others an 800 page edition, fixing the discussion at The first 200 pages might not be useful. Not knowing what the extra content is or how it’s distributed through the book, you’ll have to guide us, @BarnerCobblewood . Is it better to pick chapters as break points, rather than page numbers?

    If the extra content is not part of the core story, we can ignore it for discussion purposes. But if it is, we need to navigate that.
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    edited April 8

    I am out of this. I can't seem to locate a kindle version of the shorter length. 800 pages is too much for me. I was willing to go 500 pages...

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    edited April 8

    I'm suggesting that we read to the end of the second part of Stone Telling's story. It ends on p. 242 in the Author's Expanded edition, and P. 201 in my first edition.

    Part of the fascination of the book for me is trying to figure out what the core story is.

    @clash_bowley The page count seems higher in the LoA edition - not sure why. It's supposed to be the same book, but the pages are smaller. There is a section called 'The Back of the Book' beginning on p. 475, which is perhaps like the appendices for LOTR. And Stone Telling's story is even shorter than that.

    The book is not really linear, so I don't see reading all of it as necessary to participate in the discussion - I don't think we are doing a book report. But, like LOTR, the first edition has a lot of stuff in it, and it is this tangential stuff what has influenced my gaming.

    And the LoA Expanded addition has a lot more stuff added after p.619, e.g. a complete novel(la?). I'm suggesting that we don't need to read that, but if someone does and sees it as worth telling us, I say go for it.

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    I've started reading on Kindle, so a page number is not so helpful... a section / chapter break would be much more helpful. So I can work with "the end of the second part of Stone Telling's story"... though I don't promise not to read beyond that...

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    @clash_bowley said:
    I am out of this. I can't seem to locate a kindle version of the shorter length. 800 pages is too much for me. I was willing to go 500 pages...

    My UK Kindle version claims to be about 500 pages. I've no idea what the differences are between editions.

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    @NeilNjae said:

    @clash_bowley said:
    I am out of this. I can't seem to locate a kindle version of the shorter length. 800 pages is too much for me. I was willing to go 500 pages...

    My UK Kindle version claims to be about 500 pages. I've no idea what the differences are between editions.

    Thanks, Neil! Good to know one exists! If anyone has a US link to a ~500 page kindle edition, I will buy it in a heartbeat.

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    So, the only kindle version on Amazon.com that I can see is the longer one. But it lists this as the table of contents:

    1. Always Coming Home

    2. Pandora Revisits the Kesh and Comes Back with New Texts (Le Guin’s Expanded Material, 2017)
      Dangerous People (complete novel)
      Some Kesh Meditations
      Blood Lodge Songs
      Kesh Syntax

    3. Other Writing Related to Always Coming Home
      May’s Lion
      Navna: The River-running, by Intrumo of Sinshan
      World-Making

    4. Essays
      A Non-Euclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be
      The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction
      Text, Silence, Performance
      Legends for a New Land
      The Making of Always Coming Home
      Indian Uncles

    So, if we restrict ourselves to part 1 - Always Coming home - we'll all be on the same page, and @Clash doesn't need to read the whole book (though he may want to later, of course.)

    @Clash - if you click on the 'look inside me' on Amazon, there's a full list of contents and some sample chapters. There are illustrations in the text, which might account for the different page numbers, as well as font size, etc. https://www.amazon.com/Ursula-K-Guin-Authors-Expanded-ebook/dp/B07CWDSTMD/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=always+coming+home&qid=1586370500&sr=8-2#reader_B07CWDSTMD

    This is the contents of the un-expanded version, and it appears to be the same as the Always Coming Home’ section of the expanded edition, so this it what we’ll read:

    ALWAYS COMING HOME
    A FIRST NOTE
    THE QUAIL SONG
    TOWARDS AN ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE FUTURE

    STONE TELLING , Part One
    THE SERPENTINE CODEX
    CHART OF THE NINE HOUSES
    WHERE IT IS
    PANDORA WORRIES ABOUT WHAT SHE IS DOING
    THE PATTERN

    SOME STORIES TOLD ALOUD
    Some Stories Told Aloud One Evening
    Shahugoten The Keeper
    Dried Mice Dira

    P0EMS, First Section

    HOW TO DIE IN THE VALLEY
    PANDORA SITTING BY THE CREEK

    FOUR ROMANTIC TALES
    The Miller Lost
    At the Springs of Orlu

    P0EMS , Second Section

    FOUR HISTORIES
    The Brave Man
    Old Women Hating A War with the Pig
    People The Town of Chumo
    The Trouble with the Cotton People

    PANDORA WORRYING ABOUT WHAT SHE IS DOING:
    SHE ADDRESSES THE READER WITH AGITATION

    TIME AND THE CITY
    The City A Hole in the Air
    Big Man and Little Man Beginnings
    Time in the Valley

    STONE TELLING , Part Two
    DRAMATIC WORKS
    A Note on the Valley Stage The Wedding
    Night at Chukulmas The Shouting Man,
    the Red Woman, and the Bears
    Tabetupah The Plumed Water
    Chandi

    PANDORA, WORRYING ABOUT WHAT SHE IS DOING,
    FINDS A WAY INTO THE VALLEY THROUGH
    THE SCRUB OAK
    DANCING THE MOON

    P0EMS , Third Section

    EIGHT LIFE STORIES
    The Train She Listens Junco
    The Bright Void of the Wind
    White Tree The Third Child's Story
    The Dog at the Door The Visionary: The Life
    Story of Flicker of the Serpentine of Telina-na

    SOME BRIEF VALLEY TEXTX

    PANDORA CONVERSES WITH THE ARCHIVIST
    OF THE LIBRARY OF THE MADRONE LODGE
    AT WAKWAHA-NA

    DANGEROUS PEOPLE
    A Note about the Novel Chapter Two

    PANDORA GENTLY TO THE GENTLE READER

    STONE TELLING , Part Three
    Messages Concerning the Condor
    Meeting Concerning the Warriors

    P0EMS , Fourth Section
    From the People of the Houses of Earth in the
    Valley. . .

    THE BACK OF THE BOOK
    LONG NAMES OF HOUSES
    SOME OF THE OTHER PEOPLE OF THE VALLEY
    I. Animals of the Obsidian II. Animals of the
    Blue Clay
    KINFOLK
    LODGES, SOCIETIES, ARTS
    WHAT THEY WORE IN THE VALLEY
    WHAT THEY ATE
    KESH MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
    MAPS
    THE WORLD DANCE
    THE SUN DANCE
    ABOUT THE TRAIN
    SOME NOTES ON MEDICAL PRACTICES
    A TREATISE ON PRACTICES
    PLAYING
    SOME GENERATIVE METAPHORS
    THREE POEMS BY PANDORA
    LIVING ON THE COAST, ENERGY, AND DANCING
    LOVE
    WRITTEN KESH
    Alphabet and Pronunciation
    THE MODES OF EARTH AND SKY
    A NOTE AND A CHART CONCERNING NARRATIVE MODES
    SPOKEN AND WRITTEN LITERATURE
    PANDORA NO LONGER WORRYING
    GLOSSARY
    Kesh Numbers
    STAMMERSONG

    I have to say, this book looks like a study in world-building by Ursula K LeGuin, which means I’ll probably love it.

  • 1

    The 'Back of the Book' section might be a slog if read straight through, so I suggest that after reading a bit glance at it to see the kind questions it answers. I found the Glossary helpful while reading.

  • 0
    That is a seriously comprehensive post about the book @Apocryphal :)
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    edited April 8

    Well, I bought it, @Apocryphal! Though the Scot in me cringes at paying $17 for an ebook I am only reading a bit over half of! The Scot in me (in his clan Graham of Montrose tartan) is currently glaring at me and muttering that this had better be good...

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    @clash_bowley I think you'll like it and read all of it - but if not, I'll make it up to you by covering your book club maintenance contribution for this year. :)

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