Short Story Review: “First Contact with Gorgonids “ by Ursula K LeGuin




Last month, I picked up a copy of “A Fisherman of the Inland Sea” by Ursula K LeGuin,  a collection of short stories that were published between 1990 and 1994 in various publications.  When it comes to conversations about amazing women who write Science Fiction, Ursula K LeGuin always comes up. I’ve never read anything of hers but I have appreciated her contribution to the genre and society.  “The First Contact with Gorgonids” was originally published in 1991 by Omni magazine.


“The First Contact with Gorgonids “ is a story about Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Debree who are on vacation in Australia when they mistakenly end up on the wrong road and face-to-face with the aliens Gorgonids.  This is a very enjoyable short story. It is part thriller and humor. Our heroine triumphs not from any difficult trials but from being smart where her husband is foolish and selfish.


The story uses cliché characters which lets the story begin quickly and easily.  The reader isn’t required to get to know these characters habits, back-story, or personalities instead LeGuin draws on social stereotypes to create the basis of the character. I liked this use of clichés. The true beauty of a story is how a character changes, if your short story is going to be tight you have to make the best of not only what you bring to the page but what the reader will bring.


LeGuin uses smart humor to define Mrs. Jerry Debree as a strong female lead that provides a different take on the cliched idea of what a woman is like in a verbally abusive relationship. Within the first three paragraphs LeGuin shows the reader to not under estimate our heroine. She is smart and clever, and able to manipulate her husband to get what she needs from him either emotionally or physically. The mocking tones of other characters, Mr. Debree actions and aside reflections of Mrs. Debree show Mr. Jerry Debree’s deficiencies and Mrs. Jerry Debree’s strengthens.


Overall, this is a great short story. It isn’t long and weighted down in ideas or metaphors. I love how LeGuin isn’t afraid to deal with social issues and have fun with them.  LeGuin developed a setting that was believable and easy to imagine. (Yes, I said believable even with the aliens.) The dialogue is easy to navigate and understand from a European background. I am eager to continue “A Fisherman of the Inland Sea.”


3 Responses to “Short Story Review: “First Contact with Gorgonids “ by Ursula K LeGuin”

  1. You really should check out Eugene’s review of “The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin” at


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