Picks and Pans Review: The Eye of the Heron

updated 02/07/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/07/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Ursula K. Le Guin

At some time in the future a group of convicts is sent from Earth on a one-way space voyage to the prison planet Victoria. Later a group of peace demonstrators becomes so unwieldy that they too are shipped to the far-off world. The convicts' descendants rule from the city; the peace preachers work as food providers from overcrowded Shantih Town. Le Guin, the award-winning sci-fi writer, creates a convincing land of desolate landscapes, exploding trees and fearless fauna, including "coneys," "whotsits" and "herons" (which are not birds but, like earth herons, have long legs and fish for food). When the men in the city, armed with muskets, become afraid because some of the farmers want to move to a remote part of the planet, there is a confrontation. Le Guin has simplified a conflict of good versus evil, but her characters on both sides are complex and vivid. The story has the qualities of a parable, but it is the fantasy-original, complete and imaginative—that makes it such fun. (Harper & Row, $11.95)

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