- Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Time Warner International; New edition edition (1 April 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0441478123
- ISBN-13: 978-0441478125
- Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 2.3 x 19 cm
- Average Customer Review: 182 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 718,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Left Hand of Darkness (Remembering Tomorrow) Mass Market Paperback – 1 Apr 1996
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Praise for The Left Hand of Darkness"[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
This science fiction novel is the story of Winter, an Earth-like planet with two major differences. Conditions are semi-arctic even at the warmest time of the year, and the inhabitants are all of the same sex. The book has won the Hugo and Nebula Awards.See all Product description
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The story is strange, told from both Ai and Estraven’s points of view, giving us a strange duality on events. I ended up seeing Ai as an alien, as the society does; Winter was strange, yes, but Ai’s observing position and knowledge of his own strangeness gave it a reserve. The plot is interesting, and intricate; I loved the ice-field and their strange, eerie journey.
Some period gender references that have not aged well; describing something as “womanish” doesn’t sit well with me, considering I have no such construct in my head – and it’s something my father says, which doesn’t endear it. But it’s a minor point – just something that stuck out to me. I also found it interesting to consider how the same book would have been written in the modern era – and it would have been very, very different. It’s a book that’s made me think about my own writing, and my own method of storytelling; not that I am likely to change immediately, but…it’s something that will help me grow, I think.
So. Odd, eerie, intricate, detailed, political and alien. Definitely a book worth reading once in a lifetime.
Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness is best known for its feminist theme, the inhabitants of Winter containing both female and male potential within one body. But Le Guin's fascinating meditations are not confined to the relationships of men and women. Gender politics are part of a wider duality informing religion and politics generally. So wide ranging is the story’s scope that within a few paragraphs, this book published in 1969 was making me think of news I had read that day about Brexit and American elections. In an age of resurgent nationalism, The Left Hand of Darkness has much to tell us.
The minister Estraven could be giving advice to nationalists everywhere when he says: “No, I don’t mean love, when I say patriotism. I mean fear. The fear of the other.”
As is usual for Ursula LeGuin the book brings and intellectual and philosophical approach to the genre.
The plot involves the main protagonist Genly Ai, an ambassador for the Ekumen, a federation of planetary worlds, arriving on Gethin with an invitation for them to join the federation. (Sounds a bit like an intra-galactic EU!). Gethin is a cold world whose inhabitants are hermaphrodite, able to adopt either a female or male role when in a particular stage of their cycle, known as 'kemmer', but at other times basically asexual. The book explores gender perspectives, and politics in general across the planet, where Genly Ai is met with suspicion, scepticism and fear in some quarters. The inhabitants also have a strong concept of 'face' which makes communication highly nuanced. Genly Ai meets a number of different alien characters and forges a close relationship with Estraven who assists and passes on knowledge to assist in his mission.
The writing raises thought provoking issues, and one can see why it is highly acclaimed. However, it is not an easy read in places. There are a lot of local Gethin terminology and nouns used throughout and the motivations and politics of the Gethinians require careful reading to follow and understand. A challenging but demanding read for the SF genre
This spell binding novel is redolent of Herbert and Tolkien. The manner in which Le Guin immerses the reader in a completely convincing alien world furnished with nation states, religion, culture and mythology is reminiscent of Dune. The gruelling journey of Genly Ai and Estraven is hobbit like.
In an interesting introduction, the author states this novel, like much of the best science fiction, is a thought experiment which encourages reflection and breaks down social conventions and norms. This is most true with respect to sexuality and gender roles: the king is pregnant’.
Equally ground breaking is the depiction of how common values of humanity, love and respect can overcome schisms between individuals. Read Ekumen think European Union.
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It would have benefitted from a a glossary it terms, as the language was quite confusing at...Read more