Hainish Cycle

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The Hainish Cycle consists of a number of science fiction novels and stories of Ursula K. Le Guin. Most of them are not set on the planet Hain, but have it as a distant background. People from Hain are often present but mostly as secondary characters.

In keeping with Le Guin's soft science fiction style, the setting is used primarily to explore anthropological and sociological ideas.

Notable and award-winning Hainish novels are The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed. The short novel The Word for World is Forest and the short story "The Day Before the Revolution" have also won awards.


Sequence of writing

In the first three novels—Rocannon's World, Planet of Exile, and City of Illusions—there is or was a League of all Worlds; in City of Illusions, it seems to have been conquered or fragmented by an alien race, called the Shing, from beyond the League.

In the fourth, The Left Hand of Darkness, it seems that the planets of the former League of Worlds have re-united as the Ekumen, which was founded by the Hainish people.

The fifth, The Dispossessed, is the earliest chronologically in the Hainish Cycle. The Cetians have been visited by people from other planets, including Earth and Hain. The various planets are separate, though there is some talk of a union. The idea of an ansible is known but none yet exists - Shevek's new physics may be - in fact, eventually is - the key.

The sixth, The Word for World is Forest, has the League of Worlds and the ansible as new creations. The term 'Ekumen' is not used.

Later novels and short stories speak only of the Ekumen, which now includes the Gethenians, who were the subject of The Left Hand of Darkness.

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