The frame for this collection of short stories is utterly genius. I mean, I liked Ursula K. Le Guin anyway, but I think this book cemented my love for her. She came up with this book while bored to death in airports. The idea is that you attain such a state utter boredom in airports (and only in airports), that you’re to slip into other planes of existence. After that, she uses this frame for her trademark explorations of what it means to be human. And the whole thing is awesome.
I think my favorite story was “Seasons of the Ansarac”. In this plane, the people are bird people, and live on a world with a very long solar year – basically, they’ll only live about three years, because of the length of that year. And since they’re bird people, they migrate. In the south, they live in cities, and explore culture. In the north, they return to their family groups, form new couples (at their first migration), and have their children. I can’t even explain why I liked this story – it was just lovely – somehow idyllic. They did have some problems when other peoples discovered their plane, and had to decide if they wanted to keep their way of life, or move on, and they chose to keep their migration. It was just a lovely story.