Hainish Cycle Reading Order, a future history by Ursula K. Le Guin

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The Hainish Cycle, sometimes known as the Ekumen Cycle, is a collection of science fiction novels and short tales written by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Reading The Hainish Cycle in Order

There are three ways to read the series: You can read them in the order they were published, you can read them in chronological order, or you can read them in any order you want!

The Hainish Cycle in Publication Order

Rocannon’s World (1966)
Planet of Exile (1966)
City of Illusions (1967)
The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)
Winter’s King (1969, short story)
Vaster than Empires and More Slow (1971, short story)
The Word for World Is Forest (1972)
The Dispossessed (1974)
The Day Before the Revolution (1974, short story)
The Shobies’ Story (1990, short story)
Dancing To Ganam (1993, short story)
The Matter of Seggri (1994, short story)
Another Story or A Fisherman of the Inland Sea (1994, short story)
Unchosen Love (1994, short story)
Solitude (1994)
Coming of Age in Karhide (1995, short story)
Four Ways to Forgiveness (1995)
Mountain Ways (1996, short story)
Old Music and the Slave Women (1999, short story)
The Telling (2000)

All The Hainish Novels & Stories have been collected in The Hainish Novels & Stories Vol.1 and Vol. 2.

Hainish Reading Order by Ursula K. Le Guin

Even if Ursula K. Le Guin discounted the idea of a Hainish Cycle, she still offers a possible reading order (for more details, go to her website) :

Rocannon’s World (1966)
Planet of Exile (1966)
City of Illusions (1967)
The Word for World Is Forest (1972)
The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)
The Dispossessed (1974)
Another Story or A Fisherman of the Inland Sea (1994, short story)
Four Ways to Forgiveness (1995)
The Telling (2000)
The Birthday of the World and Other Stories (2002)

The Left Hand of Darkness, The Folio Society edition

Hainish Cycle in a sort-of chronological order

Finally, Science’s Less Accurate Grandmother gives us a rough internal chronological order (check out her blog for more information):

The Day Before the Revolution (1974, short story)
The Dispossessed (1974)
The Word for World Is Forest (1972)
Rocannon’s World (1966)
Vaster than Empires and More Slow (1971, short story)
Planet of Exile (1966)
City of Illusions (1967)
The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)
Winter’s King (1969, short story)
Coming of Age in Karhide (1995, short story)
The Telling (2000)
The Matter of Seggri (1994, short story)
Unchosen Love (1994, short story)
The Shobies’ Story (1990, short story)
Dancing To Ganam (1993, short story)
The Matter of Seggri (1994, short story)
Another Story or A Fisherman of the Inland Sea (1994, short story)
Solitude (1994)
Five Ways to Forgiveness (1995)
Mountain Ways (1996, short story)

More about The Hainish Cycle

The Story of The Hainish Cycle

The Hainish Cycle is set in an alternate past/future history in which human civilizations on planets circling a number of neighboring stars, including Terra (“Earth”), make their first encounter and establish diplomatic ties under the guidance of the oldest of the human worlds, peaceful Hain.

Does The Hainish Cycle series need to be read in order?

Ursula Le Guin doesn’t consider that her books formed a cycle or a saga, as they do not form a coherent history. In her own words: “here are some clear connections among them, yes, but also some extremely murky ones. And some great discontinuities (like, what happened to “mindspeech” after Left Hand of Darkness? Who knows? Ask God, and she may tell you she didn’t believe in it any more.)”

As the books are more part of a shared universe than part of the same story, you can read them in random order.

Where can I find Hainish Cycle’s short stories and novellas?

Hainish short stories were first published in different magazines before being collected laster in anthologies/collection of stories. This listing does not indicate the original publication, but the books where the story have been later collected.

– “The Dowry of Angyar” (1964) appeared as “Semley’s Necklace” in The Wind’s Twelve Quarters. The short story was used as the prologue of Rocannon’s World.
– “Winter’s King” (1969), collected in The Wind’s Twelve Quarters.
– “Vaster than Empires and More Slow” (1971), collected in The Wind’s Twelve Quarters and in The Found and The Lost.
– “The Day Before the Revolution” (1974), collected in The Wind’s Twelve Quarters.
– “The Shobies’ Story” (1990), collected in A Fisherman of the Inland Sea.
– “Dancing to Ganam” (1993), collected in A Fisherman of the Inland Sea.
– “Another Story or a Fisherman of the Inland Sea” (1994), collected in A Fisherman of the Inland Sea and in The Found and The Lost.
– “The Matter of Seggri” (1994), collected in The Birthday of the World and inThe Found and The Lost.
– “Unchosen Love” (1994), collected in The Birthday of the World.
– “Solitude” (1994), collected in The Birthday of the World.
– “Coming of Age in Karhide” (1995), collected in The Birthday of the World.
– “Mountain Ways” (1996), collected in The Birthday of the World.
– “Old Music and the Slave Women” (1999), collected in The Birthday of the World and in The Found and The Lost.

Has The Hainish Cycle ended?

The Hainish Cycle encompasses decades of Le Guin’s career, beginning with Rocannon’s World in 1966 and concluding with The Telling in 2000.

Gethen Map by Ursula Le Guin. Colorization by Donna G. Brown (from ursulakleguin.com)

About the author of The Hainish Cycle

Who is Ursula K. Le Guin?

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (October 21, 1929 – January 22, 2018) was a science fiction and fantasy American author with a literary career spanning nearly sixty years.

The daughter of author Theodora Kroeber and anthropologist Alfred Louis Kroeber, Le Guin first earned a master’s degree in French before beginning doctoral studies. She abandoned it following her marriage with historian Charles Le Guin in 1953 and began to write full-time.

She found critical and commercial success at the end of the sixties, with A Wizard of Earthsea (1968) and The Left Hand of Darkness (1969). The latter won the Hugo and the Nebula Awards, making Le Guin the first woman to win these awards.

She published a variety of stories afterward, from speculative fiction to more realistic fiction to novels for adolescents, and poetry.

Her body of work includes 23 novels, 12 volumes of short stories, 11 volumes of poetry, 13 children’s books, five essay collections, and four works of translation. She won numerous awards and her major titles have been translated into 42 languages.

What has Ursula K. Le Guin written beyond The Hainish Cycle?

Beyond the Hainish Cycle, Ursula K. Le Guin is best known for the Earthsea fantasy series.

In the myriad islands of Earthsea, the gift of magic is nurtured. It was recognized in young Ged, a thriving weed, a tall, quick boy, loud and proud and full of temper. These are the stories of his training, his travels and his travails as he grew into the man Sparrowhawk, Archmage of Earthsea.