Le Guin, Ursula K. The Left Hand of Darkness. Ace Books, 1969.
Reason read: October is Fantasy month. Also, I needed a book for the Portland Public Library Reading Challenge for the category of book published in the year you were born.
To read the classic Left Hand of Darkness is to discover a completely different way of thinking. To understand just how advanced Le Guin’s vision was in 1969 you need to consider at that time, in 1969, where society stood in regards to technology, human sexuality, and cultural constraints. When she describes electric vehicles with their super quiet hum and the gender fluid planet of Winter/Gethen, it feels very 21st century. Interestingly enough, the role of “pervert” on Gethen is assigned to what we would consider normal (assigned) gender today. I find that extremely interesting. As an aside, is it still true that Earth is freewheeling and without tact? I think so.
Mr. Ai (artificial intelligence?) is on a mission to bring an alliance between Gethen and Ekumen. The only thing I have in common with misogynist Ai in that I also like sour beer. His “friendships” are based on need and slim tolerance.
The message of Left Hand of Darkness is the tiny spark of hope despite all the darkness that surrounds us. It is worth rereading over and over again. As both authors of the foreword and afterword of the anniversary edition mention, there is something new to discover each time.
Author fact: Le Guin died in 2018.
Book trivia: this is a reread for me. I read it in high school as well as grade school.
Nancy said: Pearl did not say anything specific about Left Hand of Darkness.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror” (p 215).