Maailma, vihreä metsä

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Other authorsPirkko Lokka (Translator)
Hardcover, 1984



Call number



Call number



Porvoo : Hki : Juva : WSOY, 1984.


When the Athsheans, the inhabitants of a peaceful world, are conquered by the bloodthirsty Yumens, they retaliate against their captors, abandoning their rules against violence and endangering the very foundations of their society.

User reviews

LibraryThing member sturlington
This short novel is a retelling of the story of the Fall of Man from Eden, but set in Le Guin's Hainish universe and written in her very readable style. The Eden is a forested planet 27 light years from Earth called Athshe, and the innocents are ape-like, green-furred cousins to humankind. They live in a utopia under the forest canopy, in harmony with nature and one another. Violence is unknown to this society.

Then people arrive from a severely resource-depleted Earth, and as we are wont to do, we immediately set out to destroy paradise. We cut down the forest and enslave, rape and murder the natives. From us, the Creechies (as they are derogatorily called by the colonists) learn how to fight and kill, and then they fight back.

But this isn't just a black-and-white tale of evil humans and innocent aliens. In learning how to be violent, the Creechies are changed. Not only do they now know how to fight humans, but they have also learned how to fight one another. And once knowledge is acquired, it cannot be forgotten. So by fighting us, the Creechies become more like the humans they seek to defeat.

Le Guin's take on this very old story is thoughtful and fresh (even though it was first published 35 years ago). I really enjoyed this quick read, as I enjoy pretty much everything I have read by her. I'm glad it was reissued in a really beautifully designed paperback edition.
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LibraryThing member RebeccaAnn
I'm shocked that there is actually a science fiction novel with little green aliens out there! And it's a good book, on top of that!

It takes one hell of an author to make you actually hope that the human race is defeated. And yet, that is exactly what Le Guin does. In this short little book, you experience the invasion of the Athshean homeworld by humans (or yumens, in their language). The humans have enslaved the Athsheans, or creechies, as their referred to. The humans have enslaved the creechies and use them for labor: primarily cutting down trees. The world is one giant forest and the entire ecosystem thrives by it. Not only are the humans destroying the world, but they make a habit of torturing the creechies. Their women are frequently raped and one general seems to greatly enjoy castrating rebellious males in public. Naturally, the creechies rebel and the book is the story of them winning their planet back.

It's a powerful little tale, but a sad one. It's also kind of confusing, as are most of Le Guin's works. The Hainish cycle consists of seven or eight interrelated books that don't really follow each other. You can start anywhere in the series and more or less understand things, but you're always going to be missing a few things. If you're interested in the book, I'd recommend keeping Wikipedia open just in case you need to reference a term (or an alien race or planet...)

A must read for any science fiction lover.
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LibraryThing member bragan
Ursula LeGuin's classic short SF novel from 1972, featuring human colonists who come to conduct a logging operation on an alien planet and the enslaved forest-dweling people who rise up against them.

I first read this decades ago, and I hadn't remembered a great deal about it, other than the basic premise and the fact that I found it quite impactful. Re-reading it now, I have to say that it stands up extremely well.

What's most interesting about it, I think, is that in one sense it can fairly be described as "heavy-handed." LeGuin has something to say about the horrors of colonialism, and by god, she is going to hit you squarely in the face with that message. And yet, that message is underpinned with a lot of very powerfully subtle writing. Particularly impressive is her handling of the biggest bad guy, Captain Davidson. The man is pretty much the pure distilled essence of callousness, unreflective cruelty, conspiracy-mindedness, racism, and sexism, and toxic masculinity. In the hands of a less skilled writer, he'd feel like a caricature. But he doesn't. Indeed, there is something about him and his unwavering belief that he is the good guy that feels deeply familiar and almost sickeningly easy to understand.

I may have forgotten a lot of the details from my first reading, but I feel like this second one is going to stick with me for quite a while.
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LibraryThing member Jim53
This Hugo-winning novella describes the exploitation of the world Athshe by human visitors desperate for its wood. LeGuin's Athsheans are fascinating, particularly in their distinction between the "world time" and the "dream time." Adults require daily periods of dreaming to maintain their sanity. Adepts can shape their dreams and direct them in desired paths. The Athsheans also have no wars; violence is replaced by an odd form of singing contest.

Just as "Earth" denotes both the planet and the mud of which it is (and we are) made, so "Athshe" denotes both the planet and the forest. Hence the title, reputedly supplied by Harlan Ellison, and Selver's statement that "they are cutting down the world."

The humans enslave captured Athsheans and log the forests. One Athshean, Selver, whose wife is fatally raped by the human officer Davidson, attacks Davidson and is beaten badly. Selver becomes one of the central characters, an agent for change among his people, who has learned that the humans must be repelled and that war is the only way to do it.

Davidson is the other main character. I am torn between saying that LeGuin's characterization is somewhat subtle, and bewailing the fact that Davidson has no redeeming characteristics. He is the dark side of the human occupation, and given the time when the book was written and LeGuin's protest activities, it appears that the book is her attempt at purging the Viet Nam war from its domination of the national news and her consciousness. LeGuin gives in to her tendency to strident earnestness, which she has controlled much more successfully in other works.

In spite of its flaws, TWfWIF is well constructed and told, and the dreaming activity of the Athsheans is a fascinating addition to the lexicon of characteristics of alien life forms. LeGuin's style is well suited to the story and the characters. A short but powerful story.
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LibraryThing member CarlGreatbatch
Rubbish. And to be fair, at least in the edition I have, the author herself warns the reader as much in an introduction. Not a single believable character in the whole book, each one simply being a symbol for a particular kind of human rapaciousness or cowardice as Le Guin saw it during the period in which she wrote the book. The Vietnam War threw up a lot of interesting SF, The Forever War being a good example, but this isn't one of them.… (more)
LibraryThing member debnance
Venturing out in new waters, this time science fiction. Or, I should say, old waters, as science fiction was all I read when I was twenty. Though I somehow missed LeGuin. Winner of both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards for science fiction, this book is a tragedy. The author enters the minds of both the new colonists and the original settlers of New Tahiti. The new colonists make assumptions about the original settlers who they call creechies and de-humanize them in their minds. The original settlers cannot comprehend the actions of the new colonists, their violence, their destruction of the forest. Only one colonist and one settler become friends and work together to understand the other group, but their peoples do not accept this understanding and the worlds collide.… (more)
LibraryThing member apatt
Good short books are profitable reads, therefore great ones are greatly profitable. I am thinking of the time invested in reading the entire book and the pleasure, inspiration or education gained from them. This book clocks in at 189 pages but Le Guin made every word count. Like most of her works this is a thought provoking story. What happen when we introduce evil into a hitherto innocent and passive culture? I suspect the movie Avatar is inspired by this book because of the similarities in the main theme. Le Guin's story is much more sophisticated of course.
This is the third Le Guin book I have read this year, the other two being The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia and The Left Hand of Darkness. Of the three The Word for World is Forest is my favorite. At this length I'd recommend it to anyone.
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LibraryThing member naomaru
A brilliant, brilliant book. This book invokes beatiful images and takes you to a trip on another planet. Very deep.
LibraryThing member EmScape
At times charming and at other times quite disturbing, Le Guin's tale of a planet being razed for wood to be shipped back to earth and the revolt of the native inhabitants is completely compelling. The Anthsheans are short, green, humanoid creatures who have mastered the art of dreaming and live in peacefulness with each other. By contrast, Captain Davidson, a Terran human, is a total ass. It takes a lot of talent for someone as evolved as Le Guin to write from the point of view of such a disgusting character. I never thought I'd find myself rooting against humans and for aliens, but in this book, one has to. It takes just as much imagination to write from the point of view of Selver, the Anthshean who leads the revolt and saves his world. I am incredibly impressed by this book and enjoyed reading it very much, as I have all of Le Guin's work I've read so far.… (more)
LibraryThing member greeniezona
This tiny book is all the things.

Everything I read or hear about Ursula K. Le Guin lately has made me fall more and more in love with her, but yet the only book I'd read before now was The Left Hand of Darkness. So when I saw this at the library I had to snatch it up.

This tale of human colonization of a planet of ape-like humanoids is just straight up everything. There are so many echoes of Vietnam (which made more sense when I realized it was originally published in 1972). There is racism, sexism, the treatment of indigenous cultures. The way Captain Davidson, the first character we are introduced to, others the "creechies," the native humanoids of the planet, because they look different, have a different culture, and it's economically expedient for him to do so, is as unsettling as his eventual comeuppance is gratifying. Of course.

A reminder that feminist science fiction is not a new thing.
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LibraryThing member aleahmarie
In a far distant future the resources of Earth have been exhausted. To survive humans must travel to other planets, gathering necessary resources and shipping them light years back to their overpopulated home world. This story is about what happens when the materialistic and militaristic Earth humans encounter an indigenous population quite contrary to what they know.

This is only the second book that I've read from the Hainish Cycle but I already know I'm going to enjoy the whole series. I studied anthropology in college and the anthropological context of these novels alone is enough to keep me hooked. In The Dispossessed we learn about the cultures on Urras and Anarres. Anarres is a colony of utopian anarchists who fled the materialistic (very Earth-like) culture of Urras. In The Word for World is Forest we meet the Athsheans, who seem to resemble little green Ewoks. They are a loosely organized population of tribes with no central government. They're pacifists, knowing nothing of war or murder, until the human colony comes with their gift of death.

The Word for World is Forest follows the same archetype as Avatar or Fern Gully, short-sighted man exploits and nearly destroys an untainted world that they can't understand. No matter how many ways I hear that story it always kicks me in the gut and makes me want to go hug a tree.
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LibraryThing member Spurts
I read this when first published in 1976; rather original for its day (and not the best period for SF releases) so unfair of reviewers that call it a ripoff of Avatar.

I remember getting caught up in the worldbuilding, alien civilizations, and characters and thinking it was kinda eerie until I caught on to what was going on. Echoes vaguely of some H Beam Piper books (his "talk and build a fire" rule comes to mind).

This is what sticks in my mind as Ursula K. Le Guin science fiction (and the Wizard of Earthsea books as her top fantasy book/series)
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LibraryThing member themulhern
This short novel resembles "The Eye of the Heron" a bit as a non-violent culture adapts and violently resists those who exploit it. It is brief and effective and very sad. The conflict is seen from three viewpoints, Captain Don Davidson (the thug with the sophisticated weaponry), Raj Lyubov (the weak but determined ethnologist), and Selver (the Athshean who invents war).

The cover with the woman on it, which is the one I read, seems to me to have nothing to do with the novel. The picture of the man with the gun surrounded by Athsheans, of the flaming Ashthean, and the German cover are all much better.

LeGuin uses dialogue, both internal and external, to convey aspects of human culture and technology. Davidson, in a stereotypical military way, uses a lot of slang terms for many things and most people. Raj Lyubov, the scientist, uses acronyms. The inquiry scene is effective, as the Orwellian language of the various high-ranking officers is used to hide the injustices and atrocities that they and their men have committed.

This novel occurs not long after "The Disposessed" as the ansible that arrives with the ship is a kind of technology that is wholly new to the people on the planet.
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LibraryThing member soulfulpsy
I realize I am in a minority regarding this book, but I found it to be one of the most profound and disturbing books I have encountered. One aspect of this is Ursula K. Le Guin's physical descriptions, particularly the one of the forest on p. 35.

A second is the development of the aliens on the planet: This is the closest I have found that anyone has come to creating a mind that is significantly different from the human mind. Yes, there are qualities about Selver and his species that have enough overlap with those of humans that they can be understood as senescent, intelligent creatures. Yet there are also features that seem nearly impossible for me to identify with.

Some of the latter tie into the third aspect of the book that I found quite marvelous and this has to do with the world-time vs. the dream-time. Le Guin is pointing to a different mode of perception here, one that corresponds to Alfred North Whitehead's perception in the mode of what he called "causal efficacy." This mode is much closer to a meditative state, characterized by receptivity without filtering for factual truth. And it can be associated with the mysterious process involving the realization of truly novel forms -- a sort of ultimate creativity. Le Guin's aliens refer to this as "roots."

The one serious criticism I had was that Captain Davidson's character was close to a caricature. It is not that there are not people like him in the world, but the other major characters had some depth, at least enough to make their actions plausible. A small development of his "backstory," of things that hinted at why he turned out the way he did.

Finally, in my view (and I would imagine others), James Cameron owes a major debt to Le Guin. His movie Avatar borrowed key features from this novel by Le Guin.
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LibraryThing member raschneid
I'm still not sure what I think of this book, and am giving it only three stars in an attempt at impartiality.

It has the now-classic plot of Big Bad Colonialist American-Types cutting down trees and persecuting the peace-loving natives *cough*Avatar*cough*Fern Gully*cough*. For all that it's an actually nuanced and compelling story.

Unfortunately to get to the compelling nuances, you have to get through the first thirty pages, which are narrated by the over-the-top imperialist misogynist patriot capitalist cowboy character Davidson, and is really almost unreadable. I sincerely believe that there are Davidsons in the world and I understand structurally why she created the character and chose to begin the novel with him, but in these just barely more enlightened times, he feels like a one-dimensional strawman. Perhaps he was an acceptable character in 1970, but now there's nothing surprising or enlightening about him.

This is definitely social issue science fiction (which is why Le Guin writes the colonial humans as coming right out of 70s America, without very much having changed in the intervening few hundred years), but even with that as a given, the human narrative felt generally preachy (well, except Lyubov's scenes - I really did like Lyubov).

On the other hand, I loved Le Guin's depiction of the complex, subtle forest and the Athsheans who belong to it; I thought her parable of violence was very powerful. I'm not sure if it would have been feasible to tell the story only from the Athshean perspective, but I might have liked it better if she'd attempted it.
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LibraryThing member sa54d
Humanity has colonized the planets orbiting other stars. Humanity encounters a peaceful (?) forest species. Humanity massacres peaceful forest species. Forest species not so peaceful after all.

Like Isaac Asimov Le Guin has created a "new" species that has truly unique attributes, moving away from the ham-fisted "Star Trek" universe in which alien species are no more than metaphors for aspects of modern day people. The "World" The word for which is "forest" comes across vividly in her writing. Le Guin has created something truly unique and original.… (more)
LibraryThing member briandarvell
A good short novel that is similar to the recent film Avatar in some ways. I didn't find anything surprising with this novel but it was well written and showed a side of human nature which we can all agree is accurate.
LibraryThing member OctopusInkspell
Human space colonists interact with native primates and chaos ensues. An oft-abused plot refreshed through brilliantly executed characterizations (the villain had me gagging!) and simple-but-expert world building. A quick and emotionally thrilling read.
LibraryThing member TAU67SEu
I hate civilisation, but this was worse than Avatar. Weak, one-dimensional story. It's ok to hate men who hate women/nature, but it's not ok to make every single sentence reflect it. The writing is close to Basic English, so a better story would have made it a good read for young children.

I gave it an extra star just because I finished it, but it doesn't even deserve to be sold at airports.… (more)
LibraryThing member whitewavedarling
One of Le Guin's early works, this short novel comes across at first as a less filled-out version of some of her later works. Yet, as the story unfolds, it develops an undeniable drive and power that will be familiar to readers of Le Guin's later works. And, while the characters didn't pull me in and find enough development so quickly as I would have liked, or ever get the attention I really craved, the story ended so memorably (and powerfully) that I still felt satisfied. In this early work, I can see Le Guin already playing with many of the themes and treatments she came back to in later decades, and even as I enjoyed this work as a single piece, I also have to admit that I enjoyed the glimpse back into a writer just exploring her real legs.

Simply, yes, I recommend it. I think it will read as a bit basic (though still worthwhile) for Le Guin's already faithful readers. And, for anyone trying Le Guin for the first time: I wouldn't necessarily point you away from this one, but if it isn't quite what you were hoping for, just find some of her more recent work before you pass on her alltogether. She really is a master of fantasy, and this short work is/was just a beginning.
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LibraryThing member amaraduende
I read this as part of different collection. Powerful.
LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
This book actually won a Hugo Award for Best Novella and is one of Le Guin's most celebrated works. It's supposed to have one of those aliens that truly seem alien, and like every Le Guin book I've read, it's well written--although unlike others by her I've read incredibly preachy with anvils noisily clanging from the beginning. I couldn't stand more than 50 pages of it.

If you think Greenpeace is too moderate, if you could spike trees and rub your hands with glee at the thought of a lumberjack being mutilated, than hey, this book is for you. Although really, I'm sorry, harvesting lumber to ship dozens of light years? And it just so happens many of those trees are terrestrial species? Please.

Maybe, just maybe, if Captain Don Davidson whose perspective we open with weren't such a caricature, if he wasn't such a repellant, twirl-the-mustache villain from the very first pages, I could have hung on until what was good in the book took hold. As it was, I felt if I'm was going to experience a tale of how cutting down trees is evil, where the noble, peaceful indigenous people fight back against the rapacious Yumens, well, I'll go watch Avatar again--at least it's pretty.
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LibraryThing member selinalynn69
Read it for school, made comments on allegory to Vietnam War. Basic story of invasion into utopia and how violence changes a culture irrevocably.
LibraryThing member thesmellofbooks
Sad and brilliant.
LibraryThing member comfypants
Chapter after chapter of racist and misogynist rants doesn't exactly make for a good read. At least it's short.


Original language


Original publication date

1972 (as part of Again ∙ Dangerous Visions anthology)

Physical description

173 p.; 21 cm


9510120812 / 9789510120811
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