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1 Setting 2 Plot summary 3 Publishing history 4 In popular culture 5 References 6 External links
Several centuries in the future, humans from Earth have established a logging colony and military base named "New Tahiti" on Athshe, a tree-covered planet whose small, greenfurred, big-eyed inhabitants have formed a culture centered on lucid dreaming. Terran greed spirals around native innocence and wisdom, turning the ancient society upside down. Humans have learned interstellar travel from the people of Hain (the origin-planet of all humanoid races, including the Athsheans, despite their appearance). The various planets have been expanding independently, but during the novel it is learned that the 'League of All Worlds' has been formed. News arrives via an ansible, a new discovery. Previously they had been cut off, 27 light-years from Earth, meaning a 54-year delay in question and response. Athshe's plants and animals are similar to those of Earth, placed there by the Hainish people in their first wave of colonisation that also settled Earth. The Cetian visitor also states categorically that the native humans "came from the same, original, Hainist stock". It is not explained why they are green-furred and only one meter tall. Other distinctive humans such as the Gethenians are said to have been produced by genetic manipulation by the ancient Hainish colonisers. The events of the novel occur after The Dispossessed, where both the ansible and the League of Worlds are unrealised dreams. Also well before Planet of Exile, where human settlers have learned to coexist. A date in the 24th century has been suggested.
 Plot summary
"The Athshean word for 'world' is the same as their word for 'forest'." Raj Lyubov, one of the novel's major characters. Colonists from Earth take over a planet that the locals call Athshe, which means "forest," rather than "dirt," like their home planet. They follow the 19th century model of colonization: cutting down trees, planting farms, building mines, and enslaving indigenous
Earth has suffered some environmental disasters and people in North America have known starvation. and quite often. Via ansible. or war. This is indeed the . The invaders take the land of these tiny forest people without any resistance. her husband. Vietnamese and Indians working together harmoniously. He organises a raid on a logging camp. ingrained obedience of the Athsheans and the fact that they never seem to sleep makes them seem to be ideal slaves. Some Terrans feel a rivalry with the other humanoid cultures. Particularly shocking is that the Athsheans intentionally kill the Terran women. as he calls the Athsheans. But the fact is that they take a few dreamless catnaps spread throughout the day and go into a state of lucid dreaming at will. he has becomes a sha'ab. Former national rivalries have faded. and suspecting that the "ansible" is a fraud or controlled by Cetians.peoples. The natives are ill equipped to comprehend this. because they have no control over the dreams generated by the "poisons". When a tiny native woman is raped by Davidson and dies of her wounds. The ansible is left at the colony so that the Terrans can be controlled by their own superiors. Davidson secretly organises a raid and mass slaughter of a nearby Athshean tree-city. Both drug-use and homosexuality are acceptable. The only human who begins to understand this is the colony's anthropologist. practicing what in humans is called polyphasic sleep. even in the military. killing more than 200 humans and humbling Davidson. Instructions are issued to free the Athshean slaves and generally moderate the policies. the depiction of Americans and Vietnamese as cooperation in the conquest and subjugation of a forest-dwelling people could hardly be accidental. To his people. The military culture has some familiar aspects. and also two non-Terrans. Meantime." Deprived of REM sleep. a common misconception). a word that means both "translator" and "god". slavery. The Athsheans respond by staging a massive raid on "Central". especially the Cetians. of which Le Guin was an outspoken opponent. a Cetian and a man of Hain. Selver.) The innocent. (The book was written during the Vietnam War. One of the worst slave-masters is Captain Davidson (who is not the leader of the Terrans. but there have been cultural shifts. since they're a subsistent people who rely on the forests. Outraged by all this. begins to dream of war. with North Americans. the main Terran base. which they manage to overrun. who saves several slaves from grisly deaths at Davidson's hands. Raj Lyubov. who regularly beats the "creechies". but Selver is able to share his dream and sing his plans with the rest of his people. reasoning that the women will otherwise establish a fast-breeding Terran colony. No one has dreamed of war before. a starship arrives bringing an ansible intended for another nearby world. Most of the "yumens" make no effort to understand this and drive them harder when they catch the Athsheans "daydreaming. They also see the "dreamtime" as a world just as real as the "world-time" and hate hallucinogens which the humans use. the slaves' mental and physical health deteriorates. and have no cultural precedent for tyranny. they learn that there is now a "League of All Worlds" and that Terran colonial policies have changed.
but Le Guin wrote an introduction for Gollancz's 1977 single-volume reprint. Davidson is exiled to an island of bare rock. An evidently relevant touch is the presence of Vietnamese people among the oppressor humans. to be given food and medicine but no human contact for the rest of his life. Her original title was The Little Green Men. 'Are we going into the world. who was accidentally killed in the revolt) return home on the next ship to arrive. dialogue between the characters Nick Andros (who is characterized as an avid science fiction reader) and Tom Cullen alludes to The Word For World is Forest as they enter Woods County.' Tom said. but Ellison (editor of Again. the Athsheans have no tradition of warfare and therefore no rules. was nominated for the Locus Award for Best Novella in 1973 and won the 1973 Hugo Award for Best Novella.intention. Le Guin has stated in this introduction that the Vietnam War was a major influence on this work. and anyway. Oklahoma: "'The world is the place I mean.  In popular culture A copy of The Word For World is Forest is visible at the bedside of the character Joker in a scene set in Vietnam in Stanley Kubrick's film Full Metal Jacket (this is an anachronism as the movie takes place in and around 1968. presumably intended to convey the point that today's oppressed might turn into tomorrow's oppressor. mister?' Tom hesitated and then asked with hesitant gravity: 'Is Woods the word for world?' Slowly. Le Guin's novella The Word for World Is Forest"  References . while The Word For World is Forest was published in 1976). Dangerous Visions. The surviving humans (not including Lyubov. originally published in Again. SF critic Gary Westfahl said that "the science fiction story that most closely resembles Avatar has to be Ursula K. In chapter 43 of the expanded version of Stephen King's 1978 novel The Stand."[original research?] Discussing James Cameron's movie Avatar. the settlers plan to make a permanent home on "New Tahiti". their own women take part in the fighting.  Publishing history The novella version. not just to take its logs. Nick nodded his head." Both the novella and novel The Word for World is Forest were initially published with no introduction. which had been a thriving forest village before his rule. For their part. The revolution upends the Athshean culture but succeeds in ending Terran domination. Dangerous Visions) changed it with Le Guin's reluctant consent. For the atrocities he has committed.