Talk:Hainish Cycle

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Problems With The "Timeline" section[edit]

I'm busy re-reading the whole cycle at present (have a box set of four of the novels here on my desk). And I'm certain the time line suggest by Ian Watson is wildly optimistic. In "The Dispossessed", the Urrasis talk about "Eight and a half millennium of history" and one of the Hainish ambassadors talks about Hain having "A thousand millennium of history". Plus the amount of action which has taken place before the stories even begin - humans colonize then lose touch with a number of planets, then re-discover them. Not to mention the evolution of "semi-human" species. The proposed dates don't even begin to have this kind of scope - the earliest date is only three hundred years in the future. I am reading the dates correctly?

I actually think trying to assign actual dates to the novels is pointless, given they'd have to be in the form of "100,000 AD" etc. I'd be happy if we just dumped this section.

maxcelcat 11:24, 22nd November 2007. —Preceding comment was added at 00:33, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

The time-line does link to near-future Earth, so I think it is worth keeping. Le Guin's idea is that Earth was settled from Hain, perhaps displacing some locally evolved hominids. So it's not 100,000 years in our future.
Qualifying the dates as speculative might be justified. --GwydionM (talk) 18:22, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

"The Telling" must take place long before "City of Illusion", since Terra described in "The Telling" is much more similar to the Earth as we know it, than it is in "City of Illusion".Kavring (talk) 13:31, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

Ancestry of Alterrans[edit]

The article states that Alterrans are human alien hybrids, and also states them to be interfertile with humans, which if true would be a major scientific howler. My recollection is that the Alterran culture was human descended, but their biological ancestry was strictly alien. They had culturally assimilated to a now extinct human settlement, the human settlement being the more advanced culture, but no interbreeding had occurred, implying no interbreeding possible. They were culturally human, the way that the German descended invaders who conquered the Roman Empire in the west became culturally classic Greek.

To my recollection, the human settlement from which the Alterrans were culturally descended was described as dying out, not as being biologically absorbed in the Alterran majority, living on culturally, but not biologically. James A. Donald 20:47, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

Sorry, you misremembered. It is stated that the dwindling Terran population has adapted and can now interbreed. In City of Illusions there are individuals of mixed descent.--GwydionM 16:47, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
I had a question about this part too. In Rocanon's World the people of the coastal settlements, of which 'Landing' is the last one, are already called 'Alterra' by the local HILFs, which leads me to the thought that Alterra is another planet where the mixing of Terrans and whatever local HILF form was there happened, thus giving all Alterrans black skin and black eyes. And as such hybrids have the Alterrans arrived on the Werel world, and although initially being unable to breed with the local HILFs, by the end it is hinted that Jacob and Rolery will have offspring (just as the Alterrans became vulnerable to the local virii). Thus my guess is that Alterra and Werel are two different planets, and Alterrans are a mix of Terrans and some local HILF form on Altera, while Werelians (after the time in Planet of Exile) are a mix of Alterrans (who are a mix themselves) and the local HILF forms on Werel, thus Werelians are twice removed from the Terrans. I just re-read Planet of Exile and Rocanon's World a week ago:) Capricornis (talk) 18:21, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
They are called "Alterran" because that means "From Terra (Earth)". And Alterra doesn't feature in Rocannon's World, only in Planet of Exile and (tangentially) in City of Illusions. The big jeweled mural on the Offworlder's wall shows the Earth planetary system (the third planet out is the one they revere), so they clearly come from Earth. They've named the planet Alterra, despite the natives already having a name for it (Werel). Alohasoy (talk) 21:39, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
You are right, I am just reading the 'City Of Illusions' and they mention there that it was an expedition of mainly Earth colonists that went to Werel (with other races apparently to follow, which never happened) and that their first settlement was called 'Alterra' . I am wondering though why in 'Planet of Exile' Le Guin describes all the Alterrans with black skin and black (all-black?) eyes. Capricornis (talk) 19:54, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
Well, genetic drift can easily account for the same-color skin (if the colonists were a mixed bag of races then after a few generations of mixing they would be roughly the same color, it just happened to be black) and the eyes might be dark brown, but the Werelian HILFs would see that as black compared to their own bright-colored eyes. Alohasoy (talk) 21:19, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

A separate page for a 'Timeline of Hainish history'?[edit]

This article is getting big. I'd like to do a separate page, leaving the sequence of the books but moving the rest. Also adding reasons. E.g. the ansible is made possible by the discoveries in The Dispossessed, is new in The Word for World is Forest and well-established in Planet of Exile. In The Left Hand of Darkness the 'Age of the Enemy' is over and no Gethenian has yet left their world. Later works featuring Gethenians must come afterwards. Short stories can also be fitted in on this basis.

Incidentally, what is the basis for putting The Telling after Four Ways to Forgiveness? Both mention Gethenians as part of the Ekumen, but what other clues are there?

--GwydionM 16:28, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

Move to Hainish Cycle?[edit]

The first three stories (Rocannon's World, Planet of Exile and City of Illusions) speak of a League of All Worlds. The term Ekumen appears for the first time in The Left Hand of Darkness, which is also after the 'Age of the Enemy'.

Those four are in chronological order. But then she goes back to a time before Rocannon's World in The Dispossessed and The Word for World is Forest. There is no mention of any Ekumen: it is the League of All Worlds that is suggested in the first book and which exists in the second.

All later books contain references to Gethenians and take place after The Left Hand of Darkness. The sequence would seem to be:

Original Hainish expansion (references but so far not shown directly)
Early Contact
League of All Worlds
Age of the Enemy (disunity)
Ekumen Era

All of these would fit as part of a 'Hainish Cycle' - Rocannon comes from Hain, etc. If it's OK with others, I'd like to move the page to Hainish Cycle and fix the various references. Put a small entry here, which would be valid for the stories and novels set in that period.--GwydionM 17:02, 22 June 2007 (UTC)

I agree with this, but there should not be a small entry here; the Hainish Cycle page should just have an Ekumen section. -- Evertype· 20:14, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

Did the move, 1st July. I'll wait for people's reaction before changing the secondary links.--GwydionM 17:00, 1 July 2007 (UTC)


Various humans in UKL space stories (such as Planet of Exile) refer to indigenous sapient species as "hilfs": Highly Intelligent Life Forms. It is a category or descriptor rather than a specific species. - Frankie (talk) 19:05, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

This is correct, that's why I usually write it as HILFs, as it is a shortcut that refers to ALL High Intelligence Life Forms on any planet/galaxy Capricornis (talk) 18:22, 24 November 2008 (UTC)


This article is way too long. I have started the League of All Worlds article and am planning to move all League and Ekumen information in there and out of this one. Also the planets of the Ekumen shoudl be moved out of this article and into it's own, so that the length of this article is finally managable. What do other people think? I also started an article on the Shing_(Hainish) and MindSpeach if anyone wants to expand them further. Cheers Capricornis (talk) 21:44, 3 January 2009 (UTC)

I agree there should be a separate page for the planets. --GwydionM (talk) 19:01, 4 January 2009 (UTC)
It makes sense to me to split this page. For one thing, the "Hainish Cycle" is a name for the novels and stories by Le Guin that feature the Ekumen. It is not "a setting" for the books (no one in the books ever refers to a "Hainish Cycle"). There used to be a separate article titled Ekumen, which made this distinction clear, but someone merged it into this one. I think that was a mistake. I don't think mind speech warrants its own article, as there just isn't a lot of information about it in any of the Hainish stories (plus, you spelled it wrong in your article title). I don't think the Shing warrant their own article, either. --JLeland (talk) 14:37, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
I fixed the title, but I'm not taking the time to merge the article. No one has touched the article in 2 1/2 years, except for Buistr, who fixed the spelling in the text. --Thnidu (talk) 22:23, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
A majority of the novels are pre-Ekumen, with The Dispossessed happening before even the League of All Worlds gets started. 'Hainish Cycle' is the best name.
But by all means split off the list of planets.--GwydionM (talk) 18:32, 17 March 2009 (UTC)
I think the list of planets is the best choice to split. It would also make it possible to merge some of the extremely skimpy planet articles (even Hain doesn't really have much to go on as a standalone) without making this one ungainly.--otherlleft 18:28, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
I went ahead and made the split.--otherlleft 18:41, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

Merge everything back here?[edit]

This has been suggested by SmackBot. I can't see the logic. This section serves OK as a general reference, but is already quite large. The individual pages on planets, Shing etc. have extra details it would be a pity to lose. Better hope that more might be added. --GwydionM (talk) 12:32, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Agree. I think that the various specific subject pages are best left as stand-alone articles - with the appropriate links and cross references already in place. The "Hamish Cycle" article is a very good piece of work but, by the nature of the subject, it does sprawl across large tracts of topic, time and space. Shing, planets etc would easily be lost sight of in such a jungle. Buistr (talk) 00:33, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

Proposal to merge "Shing" here[edit]

There's a flag on the article Shing right now suggesting that it might be merged here, but there's no mention of it on the talk page as I write this. I'd just like to say that if Shing must be merged, it's less appropriate to merge it with Hainish_Cycle and more appropriate to merge it with City_of_Illusion, as the Shing are only fleshed out in that book, and merely mentioned or alluded to in other works. KASchmidt (talk) 22:58, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

Definitely not here. There is an unnamed enemy in her first two books and also in The Left Hand of Darkness. In her later works the background assumptions have shifted and all humans are offshoots of Hain, also no interstellar wars. That begins with the short story Vaster than Empires and More Slow. --GwydionM (talk) 18:36, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
With no other discussion on the proposed merger, and the fact that it had been sitting on Shing since 2009, I went ahead and took the flag off. KASchmidt (talk) 02:51, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

Merge, redux[edit]

League of All Worlds should be merged back here. This article, as it stands now, is nowhere near long enough to justify subarticles, particularly on minor points. the standard for separate articles is significant coverage outside the series themselves (or among fans). if the league of all worlds was used by other writers, or propsed as a model for a new inter-govt agency by a serious thinktank, it could have a separate article.Mercurywoodrose (talk) 06:11, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

merged content, including this talk page comment:

League of all worlds[edit]

Instead of nominating this article for deletion, maybe people should work on expanding it, and moving out all the content related out of the Hainish Cycle and into this article (both Ekumen and League material), as the Hanish Cycle is way too long. Capricornis (talk) 21:41, 3 January 2009 (UTC)


Apart from the discussion above, I think some kind of contextual comments re 'The Telling' are needed in the the primary article. (Braka2) (talk) 20:34, 9 September 2012 (UTC)).

Birthday of the World short story[edit]

According to the introducution to the collection of the same name, The Birthday of the World "may or may not" be an Ekumen universe story. I think it would be good to add this to the page in some way. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:31, 12 October 2012 (UTC)

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Fate of Earth[edit]

I corrected the statement that Earth is never directly seen. City of Illusions is set on Earth. In Rocannon's World, The Telling and The Left Hand of Darkness, the viewpoint-chatacter comes from Earth and some background is given. The idea that Earth civilisation has collapsed is found only in the later works - background assumptions shift a lot. --GwydionM (talk) 07:58, 28 August 2016 (UTC)

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