First encounter stories between that of humanity and an alien species has become a sub-genre in and of itself. Tales of courage, mystery, and extraordinary interaction often become a mainstay in such a series. Moreover, social commentary is heavy. In author Ursula K. Le Guin’s novella The Word for World is Forest this comes out in spectacular fashion.
Set in a lush forest world called Ashthen, humanity comes to the planet to settle it as a colony. Filled with deep forest ripe with precious lumber (which Mother Terra needs) loggers and soldiers come to cut. However, there is a native species on the planet. A humanoid race called the Astheians, or “Creechies” (as the colonists dub them). The situation deteriorates though when thousands of the natives are herded into “Voluntary Labor Camps” where they are used for slave labor.
While there is a group of individuals intent on following orders and who wish to help the natives in the struggle for freedom there is also a sect hell-bent on taming the world. Led by a bloodthirsty military renegade thousands of natives are murdered.
Ultimately the story is one of human behavior. Of the consequences of introducing organized killing into that of a peaceful society. The plot deals with questions of race in a similar manner to that of James Cameron’s blockbuster hit “Avatar” only Ms. Guin’s work addresses the content and issues in a far more poignant style. In all I would say this short read would be anyone’s interest so as long as they come looking for a great thread.