They walked, they walked, they walked, across the fields of France and across the fields of Germany and across the high mountains of Spain, weeks they walked and months they walked, singing the songs of peace, and so they came at last, ten thousand strong, to the end of the land and the beginning of the sea, to the City Lisboa, where the ships had been promised them. And there the ships lay in harbour.
A short novel by Ursula K. Le Guin
, first published in 1978, which, according to the Word of God
, may or may not be a part of the Hainish Cycle. The story takes place on a planet called Victoria
, which has been chosen by the people from Earth to be a penal colony. The inhabitants of the planet are divided into two groups: the descendants of regular criminals and those of the radical pacifists whose ideas were considered too revolutionary to let them spread. Each group has its own social structure and worldview, along with a theory about the reasons of their having been sent to the same place and thus doomed to eternally coexist. Although the protagonist is the warrior leader's daughter who feels drawn to a boy from the other side of the conflict, the story is not another version of Pocahontas
, nor does it end as may be expected.
Arguably, the text marks the beginning of feminist themes in Le Guin's fiction, as Luz Marina has to become sort of a leader using the skills which she has learned, willy or nilly, in her male-dominated social environment. (Also, the appearance and meaning of mysterous herons brings to mind theories of interpretation based on the notion of the Other.) As usual in the case of Le Guin, the opposition between anger and quietness is an important factor.
Contains the following tropes:
- Actual Pacifist: the people from Shantih. Highlighted with Lev.
- A Mother To Her Men: Vera.
- Arranged Marriage: this is what Luz Marina is afraid of.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Falco and his people.
- An Aesop: about the importance of self-control and self-knowledge for achieving freedom, but also on the role of war and peace in human societies.
- Banana Republic: the City has many features of it.
- Bilingual Bonus: the name of Shantih.
- Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": the herons. However, it is perfectly justified, as the inhabitants of Victoria know the names of the animals from Earth but do not remember their exact looks.
- The Chief's Daughter: Luz Marina.
- Closer to Earth: the Shanty Towners in general, and women in particular. Played as usual in Le Guin's fiction.
- Conveniently Cellmates: the members of embassy to the City Council.
- Cool People Rebel Against Authority: Luz Marina.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: the City culture with its Latin-American names. Guess from which language comes the word 'macho'?
- Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Falco to Luz Marina.
- Fighting for a Homeland: the Shanty Towners.
- Gilded Cage: the situation of Luz Marina.
- Going Native: Luz Marina in Shantih.
- Good Republic, Evil Empire: Shanty Town and the City, respectively. It should be noted that the amount of people in both cultures is to small to produce actual imperial or republican system, but their attitude pretty much fits the scheme.
- He-Man Woman Hater: Falco (though it's mainly due to his native culture).
- The Migration: the intention of the Shanty Towners.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: wotsits, which are similar to chameleons in that they change their looks depending on their environment - however, a wotsit does not change its color but takes different shapes resembling particular small animals.
- Penal Colony: Victoria.
- Perfect Pacifist People: the Shanty Towners.
- The Promised Land: the goal of the migration.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Falco and his men.
- The Runaway: Luz Marina.
- Sacrificial Lion: Lev. Even his name brings lion to mind.
- Scenery Porn: especially the descriptions of Victoria's fauna.
- Silk Hiding Steel: Vera.
- Spirited Young Lady: Luz Marina.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: an important rule of the inhabitants of Shantih.
- Violence Really Is the Answer: Luz's bitter conclusion after Lev's death.
- You Cannot Kill an Idea: if the book ends happily, it is because of that.