by Ursula K. Le Guin
Harcourt, 2000, ISBN 0-15-100567-2
A book review by Elisabeth Carey
This is a new Hainish novel, about a young Observer for the Ekumen on her first assignment. Sutty grew up on an Earth dominated by a rigid, repressive religious authority; Aka, the world she is assigned to, is controlled by an extremely rationalistic government, dedicated to advancing as rapidly as possible to catch up with the other Ekumen worlds, and eliminating any remaining vestiges of "primitive" thinking. Sutty's not the only one who has to reexamine all her assumptions; she's just one of the first to realize it. This isn't as good as The Dispossessed, or The Left Hand of Darkness, but it is a good, satisfying story.