And yet again, Ursula K. Le Guin makes me happy. In The Telling she explores a society changing following first contact with a wider galactical (pan-human) civilisation. Part of her Hainish Cycle, we see a world desparate to catch up with other civilisation in the galaxy, and to this end abandons all of its culture in favor of a burocracy, ruthlessly suppression its previous religion for its culturally dangerous superstition and conservative love for the past. It’s clear from the get-go that this isn’t a good thing, but through the eyes of our protagonist, who escaped an Earth dominated by religious fanatics, the story explains the motivations of all parties concerned, and humanises this decision (all the while building on glimpses into the previous/repressed culture).
As always with Ursula K. Le Guin, this book felt very philosophical and deep, while never arrogantly hiding its message (as some authors are wont to do – really, we get it, you’re being clever), but also never forgetting about practical reality. This combination works really well for me: Practicalities without arc or meaning are boring (slice-of-life gets old fast, for me), but philosophy without being firmly grounded in life just feels weird (Dune, looking at you!).