The Dispossessed

Le Guin, Ursula K. The Dispossessed. London: Orion Publishing, 2002.

Reason read: Le Guin died in January of this year. I just had to squeeze in one of her books in 2018 to honor her memory.

Shevek, a physicist, is researching something he calls his Ground Temporal Theory. He wants to unite his mother planet of Anarres with the sister planet, Urras. Anarres is an anarchist planet that has become isolated. Shevek’s people are in exile. With his invention of instantaneous communication, Shevek could potentially change society. Unfortunately, his own planet of Anarres is at war, making it impossible for him to progress on his Principle of Simultaniety. Hoping to find a more accepting atmosphere he travels to Urras where he is somewhat accepted. There he lectures, builds a relationship, and fathers a child while working on his theory, working towards free exchange between Urras and Anarres. Little does Shevek know but he has fallen into a trap.
As an aside, the range of different internal societies was interesting. For example, “propertarians” believe in the ownership of something whereas other societies don’t. On the planet Urras Shevek encounters a woman who enthralls him completely, but he can’t help but make feminism comparisons between her and the women on his planet of Anarres.

Probably my favorite part was when Shevek meets Takver. The attraction was instantaneous and Shevek came alive after meeting her. He has been awakened to a whole new life. This life leads him in interesting directions.

I always like it when I can play “six degrees of separation” between books. This time, in The Dispossessed there is a Dust with a capital D; a literal Dust that is consuming and controlling. Meanwhile in The Golden Compass the Dust, again with a capital D, is mysterious and confusing.

Line I liked, “It is hard, however, for people who have never paid money for anything to understand the psychology of cost, the argument of the marketplace (p 79).

Author fact: Le Guin has written fiction, science fiction, short stories, poetry, nonfiction, and has acted as editor on several projects.

Book trivia: The Dispossessed won a Hugo Award in 1975. 

Nancy said: Pearl considers The Dispossessed a “great read” but she did not say anything more than that (Book Lust p 215). Additionally, Pearl makes no mention that The Dispossessed is part of a series (Hainish Cycle #6). 

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter “Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror” (p 213).



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