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The Dispossessed [Paperback]

Ursula Le Guin
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

12 Aug 1999 S.F. MASTERWORKS
The Principle of Simultaneity is a scientific breakthrough which will revolutionize interstellar civilization by making possible instantaneous communication. It is the life work of Shevek, a brilliant physicist from the arid anarchist world of Anarres. But Shevek's work is being stifled by jealous colleagues, so he travels to Anarres's sister-planet Urras, hoping to find more liberty and tolerance there. But he soon finds himself being used as a pawn in a deadly political game.

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The Dispossessed + The Left Hand Of Darkness + The Lathe Of Heaven (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (12 Aug 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857988825
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857988826
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,552 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

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
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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4 of 4 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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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Though this book is often criticised as not deserving to be classed as science fiction, I really enjoyed it. I think mainly because I waited until I was old enough to really understand it. I bought it when I was in my mid to late 20's when what I really liked was hard sci fi; Peter F Hamilton, Vernor Vinge, Iain Banks etc. So it sat on the shelf for a few years waiting it's turn. I recently got round to reading it and yes, there are no space battles, laser guns or fights in cyberspace.

That's not what you get. What you do get is a beautiful story, complex politics and an entire WORLD that is both alien and familiar. The writing in this novel is of a quality that you rarely see in science fiction. It is no accident that this book is rated highly by science fiction and mainstream critics.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars so socialism works... 3 Jan 2012
If sci-fi is good at showing us things that can happen beyond the borders of our current experience then this goes for the political and socialogical, just as it goes, traditionally, for the astronomical and technological.

In this text a vision of functioning, believable and admirable socialism/communism is put forth and is then starkly contrasted to a world without fairness, without equallity and, for most occupants, without oportunity; thence we find ourselves looking through a glass darkly.

I was seriously impressed with this book, and most of all, felt so pleased that the genre is still capable of challenging us and presenting us with, if not new ideas, then a context for us to image how certain of our current ideas may be seen working differently. Ursula le Guin has given us a lens through which to view ourselves and I highly recommend you take a look.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 9 days 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 10 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 12 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 13 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 14 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 17 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 18 months ago by Chess Quant
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read
Very unlike the usual sci-fi dystopia/utopia, and very cleverly written. Am looking forward to reading more of the same from Le Guin.
Published 21 months ago by HellsBells
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Among the Masterpieces of Science Fiction Literature Courtesy of...
One of the most overtly political science fiction novels - and one certainly deserving of the term "speculative fiction" - ever published, "The Dispossessed" remains Ursula K. Read more
Published 21 months ago by John Kwok
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Among the Masterpieces of Science Fiction Literature Courtesy of...
One of the most overtly political science fiction novels - and one certainly deserving of the term "speculative fiction" - ever published, "The Dispossessed" remains Ursula K. Read more
Published 21 months ago by John Kwok
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