Ok, I get what all the hype is about. For years I have heard about this story and even heard more about it when I listened to one of The Great Courses on Audible about Dystopian/Utopian fiction (which I highly recommend). This itty bitty story packs a large philosophical and anthropological punch. It makes you think about your own morals and values and makes you question what your choice would be in this given situation. Is the happiness of many worth the suffering of one? And if that one were to be rescued at the expense of the many, would that person be happy for rescue or miserable in their new environment? Are we the product of our environment? Or are our personal experiences what make us who we are?
I Loved this! It made me think and I’m still thinking about it. I asked my husband what he would do in the given situation and it made him stop and think for a good while too. Sometimes, a story doesn’t need all of the filler and long drawn out details to make a point. I finished this small “book” in 30 minutes and would have been finished earlier had there not been added commentary plus a forward and epilogue added in. There was a ton of interesting behind the scenes information and commentary that I really enjoyed reading. I had been wondering where the name Omelas came from and how the community was named, and Ursula shed some light on that for us:
I sat down and started a story, just because I felt like it, with nothing but the word “Omelas” in mind. It came from a road sign: Salem (Oregon) backwards. Don’t you read road signs backwards? POTS. WOLS nerdlihc. Ocsicnarf Nas . . . Salem equals schelomo equals salaam equals Peace. Melas. O melas. Omelas. Homme hélas.
“Where do you get your ideas from, Ms Le Guin?” From forgetting Dostoyevsky and reading road signs backwards, naturally. Where else?
Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (/ˈkroʊbər lə ˈɡwɪn/; October 21, 1929 – January 22, 2018) was an American novelist. She worked mainly in the genres of fantasy and science fiction. She also authored children’s books, short stories, poetry, and essays. Her writing was first published in the 1960s and often depicted futuristic or imaginary alternative worlds in politics, the natural environment, gender, religion, sexuality, and ethnography. In 2016, The New York Times described her as “America’s greatest living science fiction writer”, although she said that she would prefer to be known as an “American novelist”.
She influenced Booker Prize winners and other writers, such as Salman Rushdie and David Mitchell, and science fiction and fantasy writers including Neil Gaiman and Iain Banks. She won the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Locus Award, and World Fantasy Award, each more than once. In 2014, she was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In 2003, she was made a Grandmaster of Science Fiction, one of a few women writers to take the top honor in the genre.
Ursula K. Le Guin passed away January 22, 2018 at the age of 88. She may be gone, but her stories will live on forever. “Ursula K. Le Guin has written fiction and nonfiction works for audiences including children, adults, and scholars. Her most notable works are listed here:”
- Earthsea fantasy series
- A Wizard of Earthsea, 1968 (named to the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award list in 1979)
- The Tombs of Atuan, 1971 (Newbery Silver Medal Award)
- The Farthest Shore, 1972 (National Book Award)
- Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea, 1990 (Nebula Award; Locus Fantasy Award)
- Tales from Earthsea, 2001 (short stories)
- The Other Wind, 2001 (World Fantasy Award, 2002)
- Hainish science fiction series
- Rocannon’s World, 1966
- Planet of Exile, 1966
- City of Illusions, 1967
- The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969 (Hugo Award; Nebula Award)
- The Dispossessed, 1974 (Nebula Award; Hugo Award; Locus Award)
- The Word for World Is Forest, 1976 (Hugo Award, best novella)
- Four Ways to Forgiveness, 1995 (Four Stories of the Ekumen)
- The Telling, 2000 (Locus SF Award; Endeavour Award)
- The Lathe of Heaven, 1971 (Locus SF Award)
- The Wind’s Twelve Quarters, 1975
- Orsinian Tales, 1976
- The Eye of the Heron, 1978 (first published in the anthology Millennial Women)
- The Beginning Place, 1980 (also published as Threshold, 1986)
- The Compass Rose, 1982
- Always Coming Home, 1985
- Searoad: Chronicles of Klatsand, 1991
- The Birthday of the World: and Other Stories, 2002
- Annals of the Western Shore, 2004–2007 (Powers, the third volume, won the Nebula Award for Best Novel)
- Lavinia, 2008 (Locus Fantasy Award)