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The Left Hand of Darkness (Remembering Tomorrow) Mass Market Paperback – Apr 1996

129 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Time Warner International; New edition edition (April 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441478123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441478125
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.3 x 19.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 658,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ursula Le Guin has won many awards, including a National Book Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Newbery Honor and the World Fantasy Award For Life Achievement.

Product Description


[A] science fiction masterpiece. Newsweek A jewel of a story. Frank Herbert As profuse and original in invention as The Lord of the Rings. Michael Moorcock An instant classic. Minneapolis Star-Tribune Like all great writers of fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin creates imaginary worlds that restore us, hearts eased, to our own. The Boston Globe Stellar A triumphant return to the magic-drenched world of Earthsea Le Guin is still at the height of her powers, a superb stylist with a knack for creating characters who are both wise and deeply humane. A major event in fantasy literature. Publishers Weekly (starred review) Richly told Le Guin hasn t lost her touch. She draws us into the magical land and its inhabitants doings immediately. Booklist"

Book Description

A 40th Anniversary Edition of one of the most outstanding and enduring classics of science fiction. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
I'LL MAKE my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 65 people found the following review helpful By on 6 Sept. 2001
Format: Paperback
"The Left Hand of Darkness" tells about the mission of Genly Ai, an ambassador of the Ekumen to Winter. The Ekumen is a union of most of the known planets, and Winter is a faraway planet still in its glacier period where all people are of the same gender. Genly Ai goes to Karhide and Orgoreyn, the main countrylike territories on Winter to try to convince them to join the Ekumen. Le Guin describes an inspiring world, very different from what we know, where there are no "men" or "women", but only PEOPLE, and where pride is a completely different concept. Being both an alien and a man, Genly Ai has to go through various experiences to learn different meanings of country, friendship, pride and love, and together with him we are indulged in reflecting more about these things and the world that we (don't) know. I would recomment this book not only to science fiction friends, but also to everyone who likes to think while they read.
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54 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Kenneth W. Douglas on 25 Feb. 2004
Format: Paperback
Ever since my dad gave me this book as a teenager, it has had a permanent place on my all-time Top Ten Book List, even though my reading tastes have drifted away from Sci-Fi over time. As other reviewers have commented, it's not only arguably the greatest science fiction novel of the century, but one of the best novels in general. It just has so many different aspects - and it's one of these books that leaves the reader with a real sense of loss on finishing it not because it's a particularly sad tale, but just because it's come to an end.
The setting on the world of Gethen, where the inhabitants are the hermaphrodite products of an ancient genetic engineering project and can both father and bear children, allows Le Guin to make some fascinating comments on gender; but this alone would not have allowed the book to stand the test of time (after books like Jeffrey Eugenides' "Middlesex" and Jackie Kay's "Trumpet", readers are probably much more used to seeing gender as a fluid thing than in the late 1960s when Le Guin's book was published). The two things which make the book so special for me are firstly Estraven and Genly Ai's epic journey across the ice cap - which is a unique blend of thrilling adventure, unconsummated love story and philosophical musing on duality (light and darkness; male and female; good and evil); and secondly the way in which Le Guin makes the planet of Gethen and its culture so thrillingly real - she constructs folk tales, poetry and suchlike which add extraordinary resonance to the narrative. While immersed in the book, Karhide and Orgoreyn are utterly real places for the reader - since my teenage years, I still feel disappointed that I can't actually go there...
A twentieth-century classic in all senses; and this Virago Modern Classics edition is beautifully packaged as always, with subtle but effective cover art.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Alastair N. Mcleod on 25 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback
No lesser a critic than Yale's Harold Bloom considers Ursula Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness canonical. A high compliment indeed, but wholly deserved by this extraordinary exercise. In it Le Guin dismantles a fundamental feature of being human--the dichotomy of sex--so convincingly that the reader never feels any of the sense of arbitrariness or silly fancifulness on which science fiction adventures (to say nothing of fantasy) usually founder. Although this is not a long novel, the world it creates is richer, more complete, and more believable--in its details of geography, climate, culture, economy, psychology, religion, ideology, and mythology--than any other imaginary world I know in literature. Daughter of an anthropologist and a psychologist, wife of a historian, Le Guin has a feeling for the way in which character is embedded in culture and culture in geography and technology that few if any other science fiction writers can approach. Ideas about sex and gender are central, but they are by no means the only big subjects she takes on, many in just a few passing words. Discussing the possession of telepathy by the supercivilization whose values are the chief moral reference point in the book, one of Le Guin's characters remarks that with "mind speech," there is no lying, and without lies there are no power politics. Only a great story teller can sprinkle such pregnant observations along the way without destroying the narrative. Le Guin never falters.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By F. Roberts on 19 April 2005
Format: Paperback
Rereading this brilliant book 20 years later I was this time struck by a little noticed aspect, its treatment of religion. It contains two perfectly coherant alien religions, both wonderfully thought-through and convincing. I cannot think of any other SF work that contains one, let alone two, convincing stabs at what the religious ideas of an alien civilisation might be like.
Ursula le Guin`s family background was in social anthropology -the real science that forms the basis of her books is social enthropology not Physics or Biology.
An inexhaustable book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Andrew D. Cockayne on 3 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback
I've lost count of the number of times I've read this. I know I'm going to read it many more times. I feel sorry for the reviewers who've been made to hate this book by being force fed it in English classes. Any teacher who can fail to make students love something this good should be fired. I'm also a little envious, I wish my English Lit curriculum had had items like this on it! I echo the praise of all the other five star reviews and I'd like to add this: What is most impressive about this book is that Le Guin makes her Gethenian characters fully human and simultaneously non-gendered. Estraven is not a mannish woman or a womanish man, but a fully rounded human being who just doesn't fit gender stereotypes. Le Guin's understanding of human nature is astounding.
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