UK: Faber and Faber, 1976; HB. ISBN: 0571108830
UK: Pan; 1976; PB. ISBN: 0330251783
NY: Doubleday, 1977; HB. ISBN: 0385126816
NY: Signet, 1979; PB. ISBN: 0451084802
UK: Gollancz, 1987; PB. ISBN: 0575040106
Throughout the Galaxy an inexplicable disease was decimating the human populations of many colonised worlds. On Ree’hdworld, where a primitive but intelligent species lived in harmony with a tiny human installation, the ghosts of mythological creatures had been seen, and could not be explained. And here, too, the native life-forms seemed to be undergoing a change, but the presence of man on Ree’hdworld was increasingly diverting the natural processes of evolution. Why — what was the link?
The blind man, Maguire, seemed to know – but he had been ‘dead’ for seven hundred years and was as enigmatic as the Ree’hd themselves. It was left to the biologists, Robert Zeitman, to determine the nature of change of Ree’dhworld to find that link, if any. But Zeitman had problems of his own, and though the answers were there… somehow they remained just out of his reach.
‘About its intellectual, imaginative, and emotional content there is nothing careless or ignorant. It is as strong a treatment of a central theme of science fiction — alieness, and the relation of the human and the alien — as any I have read. Here the ideas are the action, and the action is exciting because the tone is not icy, nor evasive, nor self-parodying, but passionately concerned.’
Ursula LeGuin, The Times Literary Supplement