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The Silence of the Asonu

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The Silence of the Asonu is a 1998 short story by Ursula K. Le Guin, about the Asonu people, who practically become silent by the time they are adults.


Linguists, scholars, observers and travelers have studied the Asonu, trying to discover why the people become more and more silent as they grow older.  They have a language, it has been heard, it is taught to their children.  But the adults speak on such rare occasion that it has caused great debate.  Do they stay silent to prevent contention?  Do they carry such wisdom that they don’t need to speak?  The Silence of the Asonu is an unusual and interesting story that causes you to ponder these questions.


This story kind of felt like I was reading a documentary.. very informative and educational.. yet with the odd twist that the documentary was mostly guesswork (and fictional). The Silence of the Asonu was comical in parts, to think that others would go to such great lengths to force meaning into something so obvious.   I enjoyed the questions this raised in my mind, about how valuable speech really is.


  • Word Count: 2,347
  • Page Count: 6
  • Published: 1998
  • About the Author: Did you know Ursula K. Le Guin is the winner of five Hugo and six Nebula awards!?  You can read more about this talented author at her website.


You can read The Silence of the Asonu for free at Lightspeed Magazine.

Be sure to read the Author Spotlight for this story, where Ursula K. Le Guin answers questions about her story.

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