If you look up Ursula K. Le Guin’s website, you’ll see she’s an older woman, perhaps in her sixties or seventies, she is really very pretty for her age! She’s also got some amazing talent in that brain of hers.
Le Guin has written many famous science fiction novels and short stories, including children’s stories. Her work includes “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” and “Vaster Than Empires and More Slow”. I’ve read Omelas, and I enjoyed it very much; I even chose it for a report, but when we had to look for work by an author we enjoyed and write a report over that new selection, I came across Empires for the first time. It’s been stuck in my head ever since.
“Empires” starts out with a group of misfit space explorers being sent out on a mission. One of the men in the fleet, Osden, is something of a telepath. He can’t detect thoughts, be he can feel the emotions of those surrounding him. This talent is why he earned passage on the ship, and turns out to be one of the biggest factors in the ending of the story. The crew touches down at their destination, a planet devoid of any life save for vegetation.
Upon arrival, the crew begins to feel an overwhelming sense of fear. Some of them begin to get a little crazier than they already are. Osden in particular picks up the emotion, but can’t initially understand from where it’s coming. After all, this planet doesn’t house an sentience, right?
As it turns out that the planet is one big organic, sentient being. Every tree, every flower, plant, everywhere, is connected and has one mind. There’s such peace on the planet that Osden decides not to return to Earth. Instead, he stays on the green planet where no petty human emotion can bother him again.
“Empires” is a story of finding out where you really belong, albeit in a different sort of way. The idea originally came to Le Guin when she was reading “To His Coy Mistress”, by Andrew Marvell. The poem contains the line,...