Always Coming Home

Always Coming Home

Infobox Book
name = Always Coming Home
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = Cover of 1985 1st edition
author = Ursula K. Le Guin
illustrator = Margaret Chodos
cover_artist =
country =
language = English
series =
subject = California -- Fiction
genre = Science Fiction
publisher = Harper and Row
pub_date = 1985
english_pub_date =
media_type = book
pages = 523 pp
isbn = ISBN 0060155450
oclc = 11728313
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"Always Coming Home" is a novel by Ursula K. Le Guin published in 1985. This novel is about a cultural group of humans -- the Kesh -- who "might be going to have lived a long, long time from now in Northern California." (p. i) Part novel, part textbook, part anthropologist's record, "Always Coming Home" explains the life and culture of the Kesh people.

The book weaves around the story of a Kesh woman called Stone Telling, who lived for years with her father's people—the Dayao or Condor people, whose society is rigid, patriarchal, hierarchical and militarily expansionist. The story fills less than a third of the book, with the rest being a mixture of Kesh cultural lore (including poetry, prose of various kinds, mythos, rituals, and recipes), essays on Kesh culture, and the musings of the narrator, "Pandora". Some editions of the book were accompanied by a tape of Kesh music and poetry.

Like much of Le Guin's work, "Always Coming Home" follows Native American and Taoist themes.Fact|date=June 2008 It is set in a time so post-apocalyptic that no cultural source can remember the apocalypse, though a few folk tales refer to our time. The only signs of our civilisation that have lasted into their time are indestructible artifacts such as styrofoam and a self-manufacturing, self-maintaining, solar-system-wide computer network.

Pandora describes the book as a protest against contemporary civilization, which the Kesh call "the Sickness of Man". Pandora muses that one key diffence is that the Kesh have solved the problem of overpopulation -- there are many fewer of them than there are of us. They use such inventions of civilization as writing, steel, guns, electricity, trains, and the above-mentioned computer network. However, unlike most neighboring societies, they reject government, a non-laboring caste, expansion of population or territory, disbelief in what we consider supernatural, and human domination of the natural environment. They blend millennia of human economic culture by combining aspects of hunter-gatherer, agriculture, and industry, but reject cities; indeed, what they call towns would count as villages now.

Stone Telling's narrative may be seen as a return to the theme of "The Dispossessed" and "The Eye of the Heron", in which a person from an anarchistic society visits an acquisitive government-ruled society and returns.Fact|date=June 2008

Box set and soundtrack

A box set edition of the book (ISBN 0-06-015456-X), comes with an audiocassette entitled "Music and Poetry of the Kesh", featuring 10 musical pieces and 3 poetry performances by Todd Barton. The book contains 100 original illustrations by Margaret Chodos.

tage performance

The only known stage version of "Always Coming Home" was mounted at Naropa University in 1993 (with Le Guin's approval) by Ruth Davis-Fyer. Music for the production was composed and directed by Brian Mac Ian, although it was original music and not directly influenced by Todd Barton's work.

Publication history

* Original trade release (with cassette) 1985 ISBN 0060155450
* Mass-market Bantam Spectra paperback 1986 ISBN 0553262807
* Trade paperback from the University of California press 2001 ISBN 0520227352 (as part of a series of literature pieces set in California) - the book had been out of print for many years when this was released.


* Russian: " _ru. Всегда возвращаясь домой", Eksmo, 2005
* Polish: " _pl. Wracać wciąż do domu", Prószyński, 1996


* [ Review of the SF of Ursula K. Le Guin]
* [,9171,960103,00.html History of an Imagined World Always Coming Home]

External links

* [ Official author book site]

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