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The Dispossessed: an Ambiguous Utopia [Mass Market Paperback]

Ursula K. Le Guin
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)

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Mass Market Paperback, 31 Dec 1994 --  

Book Description

31 Dec 1994
The ideas of Shevek, a brilliant physicist from the anarchist world of Anarres are being stifled by jealous colleagues. So he goes to the hell-planet Urras, seeking a different kind of freedom - and finds himself embroiled in deadly intrigue and bloody revoulution.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPaperbacks; Reprint edition (31 Dec 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061054887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061054884
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.5 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 55,668 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

Amazon Review

Most of Le Guin's science fiction is set in a human galaxy where the distance of time and space imposed by relativity is mitigated by instantaneous transmission of information through a gadget called the ansible. The Dispossessed, famous for being Ken Livingstone's favourite science fiction novel, was the book in which she told us of Shevek, the ansible's inventor, and the ironies of his career. Shevek is a loyal citizen of a poor anarchist world, Anarres, which finds frills like research hard to afford; he travels to the neighbouring world of Urras, to find that unbridled capitalism is not much fun either. "Nio Esseia, a city of four million souls, lifted its delicate glittering towers across the green marshes of the Estuary as if it were built of mist and sunlight...Was all Nio Esseia this? Huge shining boxes of stone and glass, immense, ornate, enormous packages, empty, empty." At once one of the greatest of SF novels about political ideas and idealism, and a stunning novel of character, The Dispossessed has at its centre Shevek, scientist and near-saint, a flawed human being whom we come to know as we know few characters in modern science fiction. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

One of the very best must-read SF novels of all time --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dispossessed 2 Jun 2013
By TomCat
Format:Kindle Edition
Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed (1974) is a Utopian Science Fiction novel that explores the odd-couple societies of twinned planets; one a capitalist democratic paradise, the other a haven of anarcho-socialism. The protagonist, Shevek, is a brilliant physicist from the anarchist desert planet of Anarres who's developed a method for `Simultaneity' - instantaneous communication across vast interstellar distances. Shevek finds that the technologically basic and bureaucratically corrupt anarchist administration obstructs the development of his revolutionary idea, but when he travels to Anarres' twin planet Urras, he is confronted with a politically conniving capitalism that's more interested in *owning* his ideas than making them a reality. What follows is a sometimes theoretically dense but always readable extrapolation of two very different political approaches to the individual, to genius, and to human relationships in general.

In a recent review of Patrick Ness' The Crane Wife, Ursula Le Guin laments modern literature's penchant for brief, quippy dialogue predicated more on wit and style than realism or meaning: "for me these dialogues, even when clever, fail to work as part of a novel. But expectations change with generations, and the reduction of human relationships to a back-and-forth table-tennis bounce of bodiless voices may be perfectly satisfactory to readers who spend a lot of time on a mobile phone." The Dispossessed, then, definitely offers the antithesis to this post-mobile phone rendering of dialogue.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can a world be based on dispossession? 27 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This novel won the 1974 Nebula Award and the 1975 Hugo Award for best science fiction novel of the year as well as the 1975 Jupiter Award. It is centered about a complex society that is founded upon anarchism: an ordered society without laws. The "dispossessed" in the novel are the millions of the inhabitants of Anarres, an arid moon of the lush planet of Urras. Two centuries earlier, the followers of an anarchist philosopher had fled Urras to forge a new society, a society that has done away with the concept of "possession." There is no property on Anarres, no money, no marriage (I hope that Le Guin is not meaning to suggest that marriage is a possession by one or other of the participants), no government, no laws, no prisons. Even the language reflects this attitude. Possessive pronouns are even avoided. Instead of saying "My hand hurts," one would say "The hand hurts me." A mathematical genius of Anarres, who has made a conceptual breakthrough that allows for the development of the ansible (an instantaneous communication device that other science fiction authors will begin to use), travels to Urras. He had been having difficulties with the philosophical ideas of his home world but the social structure of Urras baffles him. The cultures of both world cause problems for the protagonist Shevik. This is one of the best science fiction novels of all time. However, I'm surprised at some of the comments by earlier reviewers. It appears that some reviewers are really offended at more cerebral type of novels. I gave this book five stars. And, I also gave "A Princess of Mars" five stars. Both books have their place within the genre. Perhaps we should be not so narrow in our tastes so that we exclude valuable works. Both of these novels should be read by any serious student of science fiction literature.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I was surprised to see that no one had reviewed The Dispossessed on this website, given that it is probably one of the best science fiction novels ever written, therefore I am submitting this review as a recommendation.
I think Le Guin has an undeserved stigma of being a 'soft fantasy' author and she never seems to get a high placement in book shops or bestseller lists. This is strange, given that she is still writing now at a reasonable high level although I think even her die hard fans would admit that her heyday is probably over. She's not a prolific author but that makes her all the more impressive given that her titles are of a consistently high quality. I would also recommend The Word for World is Forest, The Left Hand of Darkness and the Earthsea Trilogy. However, although these are all fine titles, I think The Dispossessed is her best novel.
The plot begins on Anarres, the moon of the planet Urras, where a colony of anarchists (following the precepts of a female philosopher named Odo) have built their own society. Despite spartan conditions and a strictly ethical lifestyle the Anarresti consider that they have found paradise here and pity the 'profiteering' Urrasti for their material comforts. This is the basic setting but the story takes place in Ursula Le Guin's commonly used sci-fi universe in which advanced civilisations (headed by the Terrans and the Hainish) have formed a loose knit trading alliance and are slowly spreading world of their existence across the galaxy hampered only by the problems of communicating over relativistic distances. It has been a hundred and seventy years since Urras allowed the problematic Society of Odonians to settle the moon and in that time little has changed for them.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Subtle science fiction exploring political systems and people as much...
I ought to hate this book. I was writing something about instantaneous transmitters and wanted to include Ursula Le Guin's ansible. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Brian Clegg
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
I came upon reading this book as part of a university reading list and despite my dad being a huge science fiction fan I hadn't really read any in a long, long time as it isn't my... Read more
Published 3 months ago by CoffeeandCake
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Beautiful and human exploration of anarchism in a startling and vital sci-fi setting. Unbelievable!
Published 3 months ago by TBlack27
5.0 out of 5 stars the author's finest!
Just read this again. In my opinion Ursula le Guins' finest book. A great sci fi novel. As well as a good critique of political/societal structures and an exposition of Anarchism.
Published 6 months ago by Rob Botting
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all-time best
A great story from one of the masters of SF. The description of an anarchistic society is both moving and intellectually stimulating.
Published 16 months ago by antoine petit
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book
This book may seem hard to get into at first, but after the first couple of chapters, everything falls into place & the story becomes completely engrossing. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Alex Huxley
3.0 out of 5 stars Present
Can't say much as I bought it as a present however, it was for someone with a good sense of taste.
Published 19 months ago by Evil
2.0 out of 5 stars Promisong start but .....
This book actually starts off quite promisingly.

The writing is good and the plot is slowly revealed. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Brendan Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars A tremendous SF thought experiment
I was at college with a bunch of anarchists but never really understood what they were on about. Having read The Dispossessed I understand much better. Read more
Published 23 months ago by J. Heritage
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant exploration of a hypothetical anarchism
First of all in some ways while this is hard sci-fi in the sense that it tries to make the science real, the essence of this book is a vehicle to explore the political system of... Read more
Published on 22 Oct 2012 by Chess Quant
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