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The Left Hand of Darkness (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Hardcover – 18 Oct 2001

4.1 out of 5 stars 142 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 18 Oct 2001
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New edition edition (18 Oct. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575072199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575072190
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 2.7 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,782,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A beguiling read ... Le Guin's sometimes mischievous narrative tone is crisp and fresh (www.sf.com)

A jewel of a story (Frank Herbert)

As profuse and original in invention as The Lord of the Rings (Michael Moorcock)

Delicate yet daring, narrated with immense gravitas...Ursula Le Guin's masterpiece (Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Book Description

¿Delicate yet daring, narrated with immense gravitas...Ursula Le Guin¿s masterpiece¿ Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover
This is an overwhelmingly excellent book.
On the planet Gethen, also called Winter, humanity exists in a unique form - all Getheninans are androgynes. Genderless most of the time, a Gethenian may become either male or female each month, during the three-day-long kemmer period.
The societies that developed in this unique strain of humanity are explored by the author intelligently and sensitively. Ursula Le Guin has a rare talent - she can make the most familiar exotic, and most exotic, familiar. I am not the first reader of this book to wish for a chance to visit Gethen.
Set in the Hainish Ekumen long after the overthrow of the Shing, (look for other books in the Hainish series: The Dispossesed, Rocanon's World, Planet of Exile, and City of Illusion,) The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of Genly Ai, First Envoy of the Ekumen to Gethen. It is also the story of Therem Harth rem ir Estraven, a high official of the Gethenian Kingdom of Karhide, called the Traitor, the truest and most loyal citizen Gethen has ever known.
The Left Hand of Darkness tells a captivating story of fidelity and betreyal, set in a world that is alien yet familiar to us. Ursula K. Le Guin's unique writing and incredible imagination make reading this book an experience unparalelled in any genre.
I only wish I could give more than five stars.
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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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