Four Ways to Forgiveness

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Four Ways to Forgiveness
AuthorUrsula K. Le Guin
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
GenreScience fiction
PublisherHarperCollins
Publication date
1995
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages228
ISBN0-06-105234-5
OCLC32167377
813/.54 20
LC ClassPS3562.E42 F68 1995
Preceded byThe Word for World is Forest 
Followed byThe Telling 

Four Ways to Forgiveness is a collection of four short stories and novellas by American writer Ursula K. Le Guin. All four stories happen in the future. They are stories from the planets Yeowe and Werel. Both planets are members of the Ekumen. The group of Ekumen planets is the background for many novels and short stories in Le Guin's Hainish Cycle. In 2017 it was reissued as an e-book, augmented with a fifth related story by Le Guin, as Five Ways to Forgiveness.

Setting[change | change source]

The stories in the book are set on two planets in a distant solar system, Werel and Yeowe, inhabited by humans placed there by the ancient Hainish. (This 'Werel' is not the same as the world called Werel in Le Guin's Planet of Exile and City of Illusions.) Werel has a long history of institutional enslavement of its lighter-skinned ethnic groups by its darker-skinned ethnic groups (the latter's derogatory term for the former is "dusties"). When the Ekumen recontacted the Werelians, the shock spurred one of the Werelian nations, Voe Deo, to develop a space program and settle the other inhabitable planet in the system, Yeowe, transporting a primarily slave population to do so. Eventually the slaves on Yeowe conducted a successful revolt and gained their independence, an event that occurred in the fairly recent past of the four stories. The nations of Werel are nervous that the "assets" on that planet might attempt the same thing for themselves.


Themes[change | change source]

The common themes of the stories are the freedom and slavery. For thousands of years, the dark-skinned owners of Werel kept the light-skinned assets as slaves. Then things began to change after the colonized the second planet, Yeowe. The Yeowans gained freedom and fought to have their own government and identity. They wanted to enter the Ekumen of worlds.

Gender relations are another important theme in the stories. At first, only male slaves were transported to Yeowe. The culture there became extremely masculine. Homosexual relationships were important and had strong effect on later gender relations on Yeowe.

Publication history[change | change source]

Harper Paperbacks published the book first in 1995. Betrayals first appeared in 1994 in Blue Motel. The others appeared in the science fiction magazine Asimov's in 1994 and 1995.

Four Ways to Forgiveness was published in 1995 in a leather-bound, signed edition by Easton Press.

Five Ways to Forgiveness was published in 2017 by Penguin Random House. It was an e-book only from Rakuten Kobo and Library of America eBook Classics.[1]


References[change | change source]

  1. "Five Ways to Forgiveness". Kobo Rakuten. Retrieved 24 January 2018. Library of America: See cover photo.

Other websites[change | change source]