‘The Eye Altering’ by Ursula K Le Guin

This may not objectively be one of Le Guin’s best or even most notable stories. I remember reading it when I was thirteen or fourteen in a copy of The Compass Rose, an early-ish collection of her short stories. It took me a long time to find it again, because I remembered it as “the one about the paintings” and I misattributed it to Bradbury, of all people, for years. Has she done better work? Yes, but this is one I came back to and thought about, even when I didn’t know it was hers, and long after I grew up from that young reader into the sort of person who writes about paintings myself a lot. So Le Guin has come full circle with me, and so I pick this story.

Originally written in 1975 for a workshop given at Portland State University. First published in The Altering I, Norstrilia Press, 1976. Collected in The Compass Rose, Pendragon Press, 1982. Also available in The Wind’s Twelve Quarters and The Compass Rose, Gollancz SF Masterworks, 2015.

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