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Changing Planes

Changing Planes

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Changing Planes

4/5 (16 avaliações)
260 página
4 horas
Lançado em:
Mar 4, 2014


“A fantastical travel guide, reminiscent of Gulliver’s Travels,” from a narrator with “the eye of an anthropologist and the humor of a satirist.” —USA Today
Hailed by Neil Gaiman as “a master of the craft” and Margaret Atwood as “a quintessentially American writer,” Ursula K. Le Guin is at her entertaining, thought-provoking best in this collection of ingeniously linked stories.
Missing a flight, waiting in an airport, listening to garbled announcements—who doesn’t hate that misery? But Sita Dulip of Cincinnati finds a way to bypass the long lines, the crowded restrooms, the nasty food, the whimpering children and domineering parents, the bookless bookstores, the plastic chairs bolted to the floor. . . .
With a kind of twist and a slipping bend, easier to do than to describe, Sita travels not to Denver but to Strupsirts, a picturesque region of waterspouts and volcanoes. Or to Djeyo, where she can stay for two nights with a balcony overlooking the amber Sea of Somue. This new method of “changing planes” enables Sita to visit bizarre societies and cultures that sometimes mirror our own . . . and sometimes open doors into the thrillingly alien.
A New York Times Notable Book and Los Angeles Times bestseller, featuring illustrations by Eric Beddows, Changing Planes is your boarding pass to fifteen worlds that are vintage Le Guin, from a recipient of the PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in the art of the short story.
Lançado em:
Mar 4, 2014

Sobre o autor

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin was born in 1929 in Berkeley, and lives in Portland, Oregon. As of 2014, she has published twenty-one novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry, and four of translation, and has received many honors and awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, and PEN/Malamud. Her most recent publications are Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems and The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories.

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Changing Planes - Ursula K. Le Guin


First Mariner Books edition 2020

Copyright © 2003 by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Illustrations copyright © 2003 by Eric Beddows

Introduction copyright © 2020 by Karen Joy Fowler

All rights reserved.

For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to trade.permissions@hmhco.com or to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 3 Park Avenue, 19th Floor, New York, New York 10016.


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Le Guin, Ursula K., 1929–2018, author.

Title: Changing planes : stories / Ursula K. Le Guin ; illustrations by Eric Beddows.

Description: First Mariner Books edition. | Boston : Mariner Books, 2020.

Identifiers: LCCN 2020022480 (print) | LCCN 2020022481 (ebook) | ISBN 9780358380023 (trade paperback) | ISBN 9780151009718 (hardcover) | ISBN 9780544341685 (ebook)

Subjects: LCSH: Fantasy fiction, American. | Imaginary societies. | Voyages, Imaginary.

Classification: LCC PS3562.E42 C48 2020 (print) | LCC PS3562.E42 (ebook) | DDC 813/.54 — dc23

LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020022480

LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020022481

The Silence of the Asonu first appeared in Orion as The Wisdom of the Asonu. Copyright © 1998 by Ursula K. Le Guin. Seasons of the Ansarac first appeared on www.infinitematrix.net. Copyright © 2002 by Ursula K. Le Guin. The Royals of Hegn first appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction. Copyright © 1999 by Ursula K. Le Guin. The Building first appeared in Redshift. Copyright © 2002 by Ursula K. Le Guin. The Fliers of Gy first appeared on www.scifi.com. Copyright © 2000 by Ursula K. Le Guin. The Island of the Immortals first appeared in Amazing Stories. Copyright © 1998 by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Cover design by Martha Kennedy

Cover illustration © Federico Gastaldi/theispot

Author photograph © Marion Wood Kolisch



In the world of writing about writers, personal experience is, in my view, always overesteemed, and the imagination is almost always devalued.


IT’S BEEN A MATTER OF IRRITATION to me for quite some time that reviewers of fiction and interviewers of writers of fiction so often focus on ferreting out which parts of the book are true. Did that actually happen to you? Is this part based on research? Is this part based on your own life?

I think I understand why this happens and I’m not entirely unsympathetic. It’s much easier to talk about something so concrete. The imagination is inchoate, inexplicable, magical. How do you talk about magic? It communicates, but only in chants and spells. It refuses to make itself comprehensible. It refuses to fit itself into any language you actually speak. (This is why wizards must go to school. And, no, I am not talking about J. K. Rowling.)

For most of Ursula K. Le Guin’s career, realism was the dominant literary mode in America. Consider that fact a kind of corollary to the Irving quote above. The preference for realism is, at its basis, a decision to value real world (whatever that means) experience over the limitless possibilities of the imagination.

I’m not saying anything here that Le Guin herself did not say and better and much earlier. In her 1974 essay Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons? she identifies a kind of American reader who is not only opposed to fantasy, but takes it one step further, refusing to read fiction of any kind. I think we have a terrible thing here: a hard-working, upright, responsible citizen, a full-grown, educated person, who is afraid of dragons, and afraid of hobbits, and scared to death of fairies. It’s funny, but it’s also terrible. Something has gone very wrong.

Le Guin was more than capable of writing realist fiction and brilliant nonfiction; she often did so. It’s easy to imagine an alternate history in which she wrote only that. It’s easy to imagine that the recognition of her greatness might have come more quickly in that alternate history. But sometimes when you find yourself at odds with the world, it is the world that has to change.

AGAINST THE PREVAILING FASHIONS, Le Guin persisted in visiting other planets. She persisted in putting dragons and magic, clones and aliens in her books. She put wings on cats. She wrote stories in which dreams could alter reality and created languages in which it was impossible to lie. She extrapolated different societies based on different economic systems. She wrote utopias and she wrote dystopias; sometimes it was hard to know which was which. She set books in one future and then another. And she imagined many, many new ways in which marriage, family, communities, politics, childhood, childcare, and aging might work differently from the ways they do here and now. Her imagined cultures are astonishing in their numbers, their complexity, and their coherence. Her ability to create them is unmatched in the whole history of the written word.

A few years before she died, I wrote a different preface for a different Le Guin book, which I was able to show her before publication. She raised only one objection. I had referred to her as a genius and she asked to have that word cut. It made her squirmy, she said. She said that her father had impressed upon her that the word should be rarely used. It must be reserved for the extraordinary, the undeniable, the sui generis.

At that time, I wanted to argue that it wasn’t a word I threw around casually either. I wanted to say that I believed in the extraordinary, the undeniable, the sui generis Le Guin.

But I didn’t want to be responsible for making her squirmy, so I did as she asked and removed the word. The only reason I’m not going to use it here is that I know she’d stop me if she could. But now we all know how much I want to.

LE GUIN WROTE a great many books. I once asked her how many and she couldn’t give me a number. Among these are several that are incontestably great works, any one of them sufficient to secure her legacy. Some of them come from very early in her career and some from very late. So, although I consider myself something of a Le Guin completist, I can’t swear that I’m actually complete. But I can say this: of all the many Le Guin books that I have read, the one you currently hold in your hands is my favorite.

I don’t claim that it’s her best or her most influential or the most likely to be the subject of papers and study or the most likely to survive the next hundred years. I can’t even claim that it’s the Le Guin book that had the greatest impact on me—that would surely be The Left Hand of Darkness. And yet, it remains my favorite. It overflows with all those things I love in my Le Guin books—the wit, the wisdom, the wielding of language, the intermingling of the grim and the playful, and the absolutely stunning surfeit of imagination. Changing Planes is a virtuoso display of world creation, a brilliant Gulliver-ish travelogue of a book.

In the hands of any other writer, each and any of these chapters might have been a novel, perhaps the first in a series. No need for that, Le Guin appears to be saying. Plenty more where these came from. It’s a bit show-offy, to be honest. I love that show-offy-ness, too.

Sometimes I think I see the faint path her imagination took. Sometimes she outright says it: To the Ospreys . . . whose life style inspired this story. Sometimes I think she’s reacting to another writer’s work and sometimes I think I know who that writer and what that work is. I name no names.

But mostly, in fine Le Guin fashion, I’m left speechless, amazed at what she’s able to dream up. No discussion of who her parents were, where she spent her childhood, what she studied, or where she’s traveled begins to explain her.

We know so little about the imagination that we can’t even ask the right questions about it, let alone give the right answers, she wrote in 1978 in her introduction to City of Illusions. When dealing with the question every writer is asked—where did the idea came from?—Le Guin sometimes likened herself to an explorer. She said that she didn’t feel she was making up these new worlds, but that they were already there, waiting to be discovered, explored, and mapped. She didn’t create them, she said. She found them. In her subconscious.

In the end, the workings of the imagination, any imagination, remain inexplicable. They are no less real, no less part of the real world experience for being beyond our comprehension, another point Le Guin often beautifully made. We don’t understand very much, honestly, and much of what we do understand, we will someday learn we didn’t. Given no alternative, I’m content to let the mystery be.

IN Changing Planes we travel through space with our narrator, all of us, inside the book and out, remaining firmly in our chairs. Space travel, it turns out, looks a lot like reading from the outside.

Le Guin had the great skill and discipline to make what she found in her subconscious into stories the rest of us could share. But many writers have great skill and discipline. What they don’t have is the mightiness of her imagination, an imagination so powerful that, finally, the whole of American letters bent to that gravitational pull. She turned out to be the planet, not the moon.

I am so very happy about that. She made the space bigger, the possibilities broader for those of us who came after. As a writer, but much more importantly as a reader, I couldn’t be more grateful. Ursula K. Le Guin didn’t just write about magic. She was magic. Enduring, transformational magic. Extraordinary, undeniable, and sui generis magic.

Karen Joy Fowler

Author’s Note

This book was written when the miseries of air travel seemed to be entirely the doing of the corporations that ran the airports and the airlines, without any help from bigots with beards in caves. Spoofing the whole thing was easy. They were mere discomforts, after all. Things have changed, but the principle on which Sita Dulip’s Method is founded remains valid. Error, fear, and suffering are the mothers of invention. The constrained body knows and values the freedom of the mind.

Sita Dulip’s Method

THE RANGE OF THE AIRPLANE—a few thousand miles, the other Sita Dulip’s Method side of the world, coconut palms, glaciers, the poles, the Poles, a lama, a llama, etc.—is pitifully limited compared to the vast extent and variety of experience provided, to those who know how to use it, by the airport.

Airplanes are cramped, jammed, hectic, noisy, germy, alarming, and boring, and they serve unusually nasty food at utterly unreasonable intervals. Airports, though larger, share the crowding, vile air, noise, and relentless tension, while their food is often even nastier, consisting entirely of fried lumps of something; and the places one has to eat it in are suicidally depressing. On the airplane, everyone is locked into a seat with a belt and can move only during very short periods when they are allowed to stand in line waiting to empty their bladders until, just before they reach the toilet cubicle, a nagging loudspeaker harries them back to belted immobility. In the airport, luggage-laden people rush hither and yon through endless corridors, like souls to each of whom the devil has furnished a different, inaccurate map of the escape route from hell. These rushing people are watched by people who sit in plastic seats bolted to the floor and who might just as well be bolted to the seats. So far, then, the airport and the airplane are equal, in the way that the bottom of one septic tank is equal, all in all, to the bottom of the next septic tank.

If both you and your plane are on time, the airport is merely a diffuse, short, miserable prelude to the intense, long, miserable plane trip. But what if there’s five hours between your arrival and your connecting flight, or your plane is late arriving and you’ve missed your connection, or the connecting flight is late, or the staff of another airline are striking for a wage-benefit package and the government has not yet ordered out the National Guard to control this threat to international capitalism so your airline staff is trying to handle twice as many people as usual, or there are tornadoes or thunderstorms or blizzards or little important bits of the plane missing or any of the thousand other reasons (never under any circumstances the fault of the airlines, and rarely explained at the time) why those who go places on airplanes sit and sit and sit and sit in airports, not going anywhere?

In this, probably its true aspect, the airport is not a prelude to travel, not a place of transition: it is a stop. A blockage. A constipation. The airport is where you can’t go anywhere else. A nonplace in which time does not pass and there is no hope of any meaningful existence. A terminus: the end. The airport offers nothing to any human being except access to the interval between planes.

It was Sita Dulip of Cincinnati who first realised this, and so discovered the interplanar technique most of us now use.

Her connecting flight from Chicago to Denver had been delayed by some unspeakable, or at any rate untold, malfunction of the airplane. It was listed as departing at 1:10, two hours late. At 1:55, it was listed as departing at 3:00. It was then taken off the departures list. There was no one at the gate to answer questions. The lines at the desks were eight miles long, only slightly shorter than the lines at the toilets. Sita Dulip had eaten a nasty lunch standing up at a dirty plastic counter, since the few tables were all occupied by wretched, whimpering children with savagely punitive parents, or by huge, hairy youths wearing shorts, tank tops, and rubber thongs. She had long ago read the editorials in the local newspaper, which advocated using the education budget to build more prisons and applauded the recent tax break for citizens whose income surpassed that of Rumania. The airport bookstores did not sell books, only bestsellers, which Sita Dulip cannot read without risking a severe systemic reaction. She had been sitting for over an hour on a blue plastic chair with metal tubes for legs bolted to the floor in a row of people sitting in blue plastic chairs with metal tubes for legs bolted to the floor facing a row of people sitting in blue plastic chairs with metal tubes for legs bolted to the floor, when (as she later said), It came to me.

She had discovered that, by a mere kind of twist and a slipping bend, easier to do than to describe, she could go anywhere—be anywhere—because she was already between planes.

She found herself in Strupsirts, that easily accessible and picturesque though somewhat three-dimensional region of waterspouts and volcanoes, still a favorite with beginning interplanary travelers. In her inexperience she was nervous about missing her flight and stayed only an hour or two before returning to the airport. She saw at once that, on this plane, her absence had taken practically no time at all.

Delighted, she slipped off again and found herself in Djeyo. She spent two nights at a small hotel run by the Interplanary Agency, with a balcony overlooking the amber Sea of Somue. She went for long walks on the beach, swam in the chill, buoyant, golden water—like swimming in brandy and soda, she said—and got acquainted with some pleasant visitors from other planes. The small and inoffensive natives of Djeyo, who take no interest in anyone else and never come down to the ground, squatted high in the crowns of the alm-palms, bargaining, gossiping, and singing soft, quick love songs to one another. When she reluctantly returned to the airport to check up, nine or ten minutes had passed. Her flight was soon called.

She flew to Denver to her younger sister’s wedding. On the flight home she missed her connection at Chicago and spent a week on Choom, where she has often returned since. Her job with an advertising agency involves a good deal of air travel, and by now she speaks Choomwot like a native.

Sita taught several friends, of whom I am happy to be one, how to change planes. And so the technique, the method, has gradually spread out from Cincinnati. Others on our plane may well have discovered it for themselves, since it appears that a good many people now practice it, not always intentionally. One meets them here and there.

While staying with the Asonu I met a man from the Candensian plane, which is very much like ours, only more of it consists of Toronto. He told me that in order to change planes all a Candensian has to do is eat two dill pickles, tighten his belt, sit upright in a hard chair with his back not touching the back, and breathe ten times a minute for about ten minutes. This is enviably easy, compared to our technique. We (I mean people from the plane I occupy when not traveling) seem unable to change planes except at airports.

The Interplanary Agency long ago established that a specific combination of tense misery, indigestion, and boredom is the essential facilitator of interplanary travel; but most people, from most planes, don’t have to suffer the way we do.

The following reports and descriptions of other planes, given me by friends or written from notes I made on my own excursions and in libraries of various kinds, may induce the reader to try interplanary travel; or if not, they may at least help to pass an hour in an airport.

Porridge on Islac

IT MUST BE ADMITTED that the method invented by Sita Dulip is not entirely reliable. You sometimes find yourself on a plane that isn’t the one you meant to go to. If whenever you travel you carry with you a copy of Roman’s Handy Planary Guide, you can read up on wherever it is you get to when you get there, though Roman is not always reliable either. But the Encyclopedia Planaria, in forty-four volumes, is not portable, and after all, what is entirely reliable unless it’s dead?

I arrived on Islac unintentionally, when I was inexperienced, before I had learned to tuck Roman into my suitcase. The Interplanary Hotel there did have a set of the Encyclopedia, but it was at the bindery, because, they said, the bears had eaten the glue in the bindings and the books had all come to pieces. I thought they must have rather odd bears on Islac, but did not like to ask about them. I looked around the halls and my room carefully in case any bears were lurking. It was a beautiful hotel and the hosts were pleasant, so I decided to take my luck as it came and spend a day

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16 avaliações / 29 Análises
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Avaliações de leitores

  • (4/5)
    This is a slender and charming travelogue of places that don't exist. The stories that make it up were published over the last five years in a variety of places, with the exception of the introductory story. "Sita Dulip's Method" sets up a frame for the whole.

    Anyone can visit other planes of existence, but to make the transition you need to achieve a certain level of discomfort, boredom, and indigestion. On our plane of existence, this is only achieved when waiting in an airport between connecting flights--when you are, literally, between planes. The Interplanary Agency maintains a generally loose supervision of this travel, providing translation devices, guidebooks, and accommodations for longer stays. They'll take stronger measures in the event of real misbehavior by visitors or hosts. Without misbehavior, both wonders and quiet horrors are available to the adventurous traveler.

  • (4/5)
    Sometimes a bit preachy, but filled with the glorious language that LeGuin is great at.
  • (4/5)
    Is there any greater master of speculative fiction than Ursula K. Le Guin? Here she uses the maddening experience of changing planes (read: sitting in airports post 9-11) as a perfect time to change planes (read: alternate levels of existence). Like an anthropologist in the field, she gives short reports on imagined societies that are so advanced as to be post-language and so primitive as to extend the Christmas shopping season year round and to stage battles with preordained outcomes. There are angel-like creatures with wings and devil-like creatures with hooves. Builders and birds, queens, placid people and immortal souls, and places like libraries and gardens and hotels and grog shops and streets that change direction as you traverse them--all are conjured in Le Guin's clear, unreliable, contradictory, inspirational, satirical voice. Whisper in my ear anytime at all, o great Le Guin!
  • (3/5)
    The first story was the best one, a wonderful little thought experiment. The rest of the stories are like little anthropological sketches and have moments of great writing but short stories aren't my favorite form.
  • (4/5)
    Ursula Le Guin is the queen of short stories. I am amazed how she created whole worlds/planes in such a short story. Complete with culture, traditions, language, these planes came to life in this book. It is an interesting concept of being able to travel to other planes as you wait in the airport between planes. Love the play on words. The plane where you have communal dreams was probably my favorite. But also the one where only a few citizens grew wings and could fly and that was a curse. The plane where you could never learn their language because it seemed to disappear as the citizens grew older. The plane that tried to charge for travel. A plane with two warring nations and the one squeezed out starting building a huge building for the other nation. These stories are great.
  • (4/5)
    After all those crime books, I thought it was about time for some fantasy! This is a collection of short stories set in parallel planes of existence (yes, the title is some sort of pun). The introduction says that a method for travelling to other worlds was discovered, but it only works if you're in an airport. So when people are stuck waiting for a delayed plane or missed transfer, they can go travelling for a while and not miss much time here.Each story is set in another world, and they do somehow have the air of travel writing about them. I enjoyed all of the stories here, but I would have liked to see some trips to more high-technology worlds - the majority of them were set in peaceful, less technologically developed planes, or worlds that have reverted after some kind of event turned them away from that sort of thing. Still, on the whole a very good read.
  • (4/5)
    A fun mixture of satire and worldbuilding. Very Gulliver's Travels, really, except with a likable narrator!
  • (3/5)
    Short stories - some more like little snapshots, really - set in different planes or dimensions... some from a traveler from our plane's point of view.
  • (3/5)
    LeGuin is a fantastic writer, most notably for her ability to create such a realistic world-setting that readers just fall right into it each time they revisit that place. What she's doing in this collection is exactly that--building world settings that feel so real it's sometimes hard to believe they're science fiction.

    Unfortunately, that's all that's in this book: world settings. There are some pieces with narrative, almost-stories in them; those pieces tend to be the ones originally published in various magazines or other anthologies. Those pieces stand alone, and stand out. The other pieces in this book, though, read like anthropological reports (I know, that's what they're meant to be), but to this reader felt more like the notes that have been kicking around LeGuin's desk--odds and ends she knows she won't have time to explore fully or use in full-length books (or even develop into short stories). Write them up in a creative way, stick 15 of them together, and voila, you have a book you can release to the public.

    Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading these snippets of worlds, some of which I'd love to see further fleshed-out and used. But reading them all together is a challenge: after 4 or 5, I was pretty much done, and ready to see something a little more robust. Three stars is low for this, but four seems high.

    I'm sorry, Ursula. I swear I've loved most of your other books.
  • (4/5)
    This is an interesting book. It's more a collection of short stories with a common theme, and it's fantasy/sci-fi masquerading as a travel book. It's interesting for that, and interesting for Le Guin's writing. Her political/social commentary is obvious, particularly in "Porridge on Islac", but it's also touching. "My daughter lives in the North Sea. On raw fish. She's very beautiful. Dark and silky and beautiful. But -- I had to take her to the sea-coast when she was two years old. I had to put her in that cold water, those big waves. I had to let her swim away, let her go be what she is. But she is human too! She is, she is human too!"
  • (5/5)
    This is a collection of sketches of alternate universe worlds that LeGuin uses to say some fascinating things about the nature of... not humans necessarily, but beings. Each world is related to our own, but the people or the lifestyle differ in ways that make for some fascinating commentary on our own reality. What if we lived in a world without language? What if we shared our dreams with our neighbors every night? Each story has a different character and some are more whimsical than poignant, but the collection works. A thought-provoking but not too heavy read.
  • (5/5)
    This is my first book by Ursula K. Le Guin, and I'm very pleased at this introduction. I'd found this in a bargain stack, so it's double the luck! Changing Planes is a collection of interconnected stories about interplanary travel. It is quite a fascinating concept, and sounds wonderful to experience! The planes and people in these pieces may be very different or similar to ours, but each has something to say about humans and our society. A witty and clever observation!
  • (4/5)
    "Confusions of Uni" was my favorite story in this collection about visits to other planes. They are accessed from the blue plastic chairs bolted to the floors of airport terminals, and a two-day trip takes only minutes in our time.
  • (5/5)
    When someone discovers how to 'change planes' while waiting in an airport for a flight, a whole universe of possibilities is opened up. This tells the experiences of some of the planechangers, the planes (or planets) they visit and the societies and cultures they find.From the satirical tale of The Holiday Plane, where islands have been converted to cater for different holidays (such as Christmas with the villages of Noel, O Little Town etc), to the amusingly cynical (Hegn, where everyone is royalty apart from a small group of commoners), these stories and accounts are sometimes illuminating, disturbing, sad and peaceful all at the same time.It is difficult to pick a favourite chapter out of this (each chapter tells of a different world), I have found the place I would most love to sit and read: The Library Gardens of Mahigul."In spring, during the mild steady rains, big awnings are stretched from one library arcade to the next, so that you can still sit outdoors, hearing the soft drumming on the canvas overhead, looking up from your reading to see the trees and the pale sky beyond the awning."and"In winter it's often foggy, not a cold fog but a mist through which and in which the sunlight is always warmly palpable, like the colour in a milk opal. The fog softens the sloping lawns and the high, dark trees, bringing them closer, into a quiet, mysterious intimacy."I have the feeling I will read these stories again and again and again. The power they provide, the thought they provoke and the rush of emotions they produce are extraordinary. And all done in such a gentle way that you don't realise you're being touched until you take a breath at the end of each one.I would highly recommend this. I never expected it to be as good as it is, and I am surprised I had never heard of it before.4.5 out of 5
  • (4/5)
    I love this book - its a collection of short stories written almost as an allegory or fable feel to them, each story is about a different plane, and that you can only get to these plains by waiting at airport terminals.
  • (4/5)
    8 odd short and light tales. Le Guin I feel doesn't like flying, particularly not the hassle involved with airports and making connections, and in this ever pressured environment who can blame her. These are tales of differen planes - places that can be reached when the desperation and indegestion of the airport gets sufficently burdensome that anywhere else is better. Anywhere being the key point.Populated with odd types living their lives as they have always done, and interacting with the travelling tourist through the Interplanetary Travel Agency. Vaguely dark, cycnical tales, but not particularly thought provoking. Despite finishing the book only yesterday I can only really remember that bird people featured in a couple, and that there was a fantastic library planet which had had a dark history.Easy reading, enjoyable, weird but ultimately nothing special. Good for travelling!
  • (4/5)
    This is a light read, but a good one. I highly recommend it for while traveling. Le Guin's writing here is consistent with what would be expected, but the darker themes she usually employs aren't as prominent in this novel. Indeed, the novel itself is hard to classify as such since it reads much more like a collection of short stories strung together by a narrator whose story doesn't seem to really be the point of the novel.The point of the novel, in fact, seems to be rather thinly veiled commentary on modern society. Society in general is fun to comment on, and she gets fairly wild with some of the alternate worlds she introduces to us in this book. The tone remains throughout one of an anthropological, somewhat distant discussion and study of these fictional cultures. For those who enjoy this style of exploring cultures, this will be a delight. For those who find this style displeasing, I recommending picking up a book by a different author entirely.As a whole, this is both an entertaining read, and a fun examination of how cultures work.
  • (3/5)
    An enjoyable collection of stories, revolving around the principle that one can change between different worlds (planes) at airports. Several worlds are introduced, written about as if they are travel reports. Some of the stories were quite impressive, others not so interesting, partly because of the 'academic' writing style. Changing planes is a nice in-between book (for travelling by airplane).
  • (5/5)
    Wicked satire of American consumer and political culture. Le Guin at her humane best - a great read for the stress of air travel!
  • (4/5)
    A great collection of short stories describing the narrator's visits to alternate realities (planes) while stuck in airports waiting to change...um...planes. A triumph of the freedom of the mind even though the body may be bound to our own humble plane. These are individual stories, but they are bound together by this common theme, and it could be viewed as a fantasy travel book, a collection of sociological studies, or a biting satire on parts of our own culture.
  • (4/5)
    Interesting look at other worlds.
  • (4/5)
    Several years ago while my husband experienced a frustrating flight for a business trip, I acquired travel reading at a local bookstore. The stories in this collection are all different yet tied together through travel, uncovering history and custom, and commentary. Each story is self-contained enough in that the book can be set aside for years when other covers distract the reader. A few stories required a little more thought to follow than I could handle at bedtime (when I tend to read short stories), but I do not begrudge them. Le Guin has built planes I long to visit.
  • (4/5)
    A collection of stories/vignettes connected by an amusing premise: while caught in the unique state of boredom experienced only by the traveller stuck with a layover at an airport, a person can quite literally "change planes" and visit other realms of existence.
    (One gets the feeling that LeGuin doesn't like modern travel much - and indeed, on her website it says that the author is currently taking a sabbatical from any kind of book tours or speaking engagements.)
    Each section describes, from the visitor's perspective, a different 'plane' and the people who live there. The segments are a bit too brief and lacking in full development for me to consider then full 'stories' - but the writing is wonderful, and the book is just full of brilliantly insightful and amusing ideas. LeGuin apparently has many more flashes of creativity on a routine business trip than most authors do in a career. These are the ideas she hasn't fleshed out into full novels, but the book is still a rewarding experience - both funny and with many serious-yet-wry observations about our own world as well as potential alien ways of life.
  • (5/5)
    This book has been on my to-read list since it first was published, and why it took me so long to find a copy and read, I don't know. I quite enjoyed the underlying conceit, a play on the words of the title, but I enjoyed more the narrator's descriptions and adventures in a variety of planes. Le Guin manages to pack a lot of entertainment and some deep critiques into the short stories that make up this book.
  • (4/5)
    This was a fun book. The premise really was just "How far can I run with a pun on changing airplanes vs astral planes?", but that served as a nice springboard for a series of vignettes of alternate worlds. Some were clearly commentary on this plane, others just seemed like an exploration of a little idea, and the whole book is breezily written - light reading that's worth taking time over.
  • (5/5)
    Starting with some cutting observations about airplane travel it moves on to the fantasy of spending time in alternate universe while waiting on airplane connections. The alternate universes are all highly imaginative echoing the ability she displayed on her other work.
  • (3/5)
    The framing device for these connected short stories from sci-fi/fantasy legend Ursula Leguin is that bored air travelers can slip out of airport lounges into alternative worlds or planes. So, while travelers are waiting to change planes, they can take little side trips by changing planes. The collection is one traveler’s accounts of her visits to alternative planes. Reading Changing Places is like getting a series of letters from a traveling friend with newsy reports of her latest stops. But these are not your usual colorful locals and odd customs. The narrator meets people who are mostly human (and part plants and animals), entire populations who migrate north to breed and return south when their young are grown, people compelled to build stone structures that no one uses, people cursed with flight where flyers are considered deformed, and others—each more outlandish than the last. The collection showcases LeGuin’s world-building talent. Sixteen stories each present a unique world with one or more species of cool, outrageous, thought provoking, or weird sentient beings. It’s good these various being we meet are interesting because not much actually happens in any of the stories. This gives the collection something of a contemplative mood, like a series of miniature studies in extraterrestrial sociology. So, for LeGuin’s fans, this collection offers two things she does best: build worlds and examine their social structures. Few writers come up with so many and so varied new ways to imagine life. And few make it interesting enough you want to keep turning the pages to see what the next plane change will bring.
  • (2/5)
    There’s a cunning pun in that title there. It goes like this: a person waiting one day in an airport to catch a connecting flight accidentally discovered a way to visiting other worlds, or, as Le Guin has it in this collection, other planes. Get it? Aeroplanes and alternate universes/planes. And hence this collection of, well, fables, all based on other planes visited by a narrator from Earth. I am not a big fan, I must admit, of fables, though I am certainly a fan of Le Guin’s fiction. So while I can appreciate the art and cleverness with which Changing Planes is put together, I didn’t much enjoy the stories. Meh.
  • (4/5)
    A neat and amusing collection of fantasy short stories. Quite light, but enjoyable nonetheless.