New Wave Sci-Fi 75 (10)
December 3, 2017
One in a series of posts about the 75 best science fiction novels published during the genre’s New Wave era (from 1964–83, according to HILOBROW’s periodization schema). For our complete New Wave Sci-Fi 75 list, click here.
Ursula K. Le Guin’s Rocannon’s World (1966).
When ethnologist Gaveral Rocannon visits the primitive planet Fomalhaut II, his ship is destroyed by agents of Faraday, an upstart planet threatening the peaceful galaxy. Rocannon sets out to find the enemy’s secret base on the planet — so he can infiltrate it, and use their “ansible” to communicate with galactic authorities. As he journeys across the planet, he encounters various Tolkien-esque species, including the dwarfish Gdemiar, the elven Fiia, and the nightmarish Winged Ones; his advanced technology makes him a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court-type wizard. As he travels, and engages in various battles, Rocannon becomes a figure of legend. However, when he reaches the enemy base he must revert to a sophisticated interstellar op. Fans of Iain M. Banks: the Culture begins here. A fun foray into Three Hearts and Three Lions-esque science-fantasy, for Le Guin.
Fun facts: This is the debut installment in Le Guin’s Hainish Cycle. Other authors, including Orson Scott Card, Vernor Vinge, and Kim Stanley Robinson, would borrow the “ansible” tech from this book.
NEW WAVE SCI-FI at HILOBROW: 75 Best New Wave (1964–83) Sci-Fi Novels | Back to Utopia: Fredric Jameson’s theorizing about New Wave sci-fi | Douglas Adams | Poul Anderson | J.G. Ballard | John Brunner | William Burroughs | Octavia E. Butler | Samuel R. Delany | Philip K. Dick | Frank Herbert | Ursula K. Le Guin | Barry N. Malzberg | Moebius (Jean Giraud) | Michael Moorcock | Alan Moore | Gary Panter | Walker Percy | Thomas Pynchon | Joanna Russ | James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Sheldon) | Kurt Vonnegut | PLUS: Jack Kirby’s Golden Age and New Wave science fiction comics.
ALSO SEE: 50 Best Scientific Romances (1864–1903) | Radium Age Sci-Fi: 100 Best Novels of 1904–33 | Golden Age Sci-Fi: 75 Best Novels of 1934–1963 | 75 Best New Wave Sci-Fi (1964–83) Novels | The 200 Greatest Adventure Novels of All Time | 101 Science Fiction Adventures