March 24, 1980 12:00 PM

by Ursula K. Le Guin

There is absolutely no “science” in this sci-fi novel by one of the major names of that genre. A fat, unhappy young man, who works as a checker in a grocery, wanders beyond the suburban freeways into a magic twilight where time slows, the rivers are pure and simple folk weave beautiful cloth from the wool of their mountain sheep. The land, however, is paralyzed by fear of a dragon, and the Lord of the Manor hopes somehow that the fat boy can save them. The pleasure in a religious allegory such as this comes from the author’s ability to convince a reader—at least while he turns the pages—that this imagined world is wondrously alive. Le Guin is good at that. Questions arise after the book is closed, though, and the answer to one of them—”Does it mean anything?”—seems to be “No.” (Harper & Row, $8.95)

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