“It’s set on a planet that has been colonised by Terrans—people from Earth, in the interspecies Hainish Cycle—but there are indigenous people on this planet, who are humanoid but look distinctly different. They are furred, they’re much shorter in stature, and their pigmentation is green. The colonists regard them as subhuman and they’re enslaved: forced into labour camps to participate in a forestry project. This novella was first published in 1972, and it seems very clear that it relates to America’s occupation of Vietnam at that time because, in addition to deforesting the planet, one of the things they use to attack the indigenous people is called ‘burning jelly.’ So that’s directly evoking the imperialism of the US Army of the time.” Read more...
The Best Ursula Le Guin Books