The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness

Book - 2000
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A human emissary sent to the world of Winter to bring it into a galactic civilization must find a way to bridge the gulf between his outlook and that of the natives, who can change gender at will.
Publisher: New York : Ace Books, 2000
Edition: Ace trade pbk. ed
Copyright Date: ©1969
ISBN: 9780441007318
Branch Call Number: SCI LEGUI-U
Characteristics: xvi, 304 pages ; 21 cm


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BostonPL_LauraB Feb 06, 2018

My book club was discussing this book last night just as the news broke of her passing away. I feel a bit guilty about giving it a low rating, but I was mostly just really bored/confused by this book. I think I'm just not a SF person. I would still be interested to try Wizard of Earthsea - fantasy is more up my alley.

BostonPL_AnnaD Jan 23, 2018

This book always gets me in the end. I’m not sure what to say about it. Most of this, until about the second half, is not something I would normally read. Yet, I’ve enjoyed it twice now.

Le Guin calls the Genethians androgynous, though I think I see them more as intersex, and somewhat similar to the Wraeththu of Storm Constantine’s books of the same name.

Jan 03, 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin-native to California-earned her master's degree at Columbia University. I empathize with Ms. Le Guin's passion; simply for sitting in a chair and posing, for a head-shot, with a library of books in the backdrop. My favorite shot, (the only one I have seen of Ms. Leguin) includes her sitting in a studio and reading a good book. In, The Left Hand of Darkness, PZ4.L518 Le 1980 (JP 9/85) one can read the Latin Phrase- "sine quo non"-which reads in English: I translate to mean: " where without which nothing". My favorite, " Save the Cat" moment is found on page 12 of Ms. Ursula's, non-explorative-book-I stress the non-explorative nature of this book-in the passage Ursula writes: " Oh God yes. I didn't mean that." she continues "Well, I'll say less to the king than I intended to say, when I could count on you." The protagonist is written, to say the above because-and I Nyadenya quote-"I had no experiential feel for privilege-no tact".

Dec 21, 2017

Ehh... it's okay. There's a lot of thick prose and 'heavy ideas' to chew on. The language has a rhythm to it, which I like, but I couldn't connect with the story. Or the characters.

Nov 14, 2017

Published in 1969, this was Le Guin's breakthrough novel. The themes she explores - gender, power, patriotism - remain relevant and raise interesting questions. A thoughtful book.

Aug 06, 2017

So I have to say this upfront: I read Ancillary Justice before I read this book, and I think in some ways that was a mistake. I couldn't stop comparing the two, and finding the former better than the latter, both in plot and the ways that the Gender Thing was handled.

And boy that gender thing. I understand this was probably super revolutionary when it was published, but it's so tied up in Earth conceptions of gender and sex without doing much that feels super important? Like for all that the Gethenians are supposed to be without sex or gender, this book still felt super heavily gendered and in a kind of unquestioned way. (Again, here is where my biggest comparison to Ancillary Justice really takes root; this book didn't challenge my sense of gender, or the way that I understand and see gender in my own world at all, and certainly not to the degree that Ancillary Justice did.) The anthropological portions of the book made me feel kinda gross, like the attempts to "understand" this system, or document its differences, were part of a major mistranslation problem that was never really corrected in the book.

The plot itself was fine? I really enjoyed Estraven as a character and would have liked to see more about him. The ending felt like very very rushed, and parsing it was a little difficult because of that. This is a book that to me seems to scream sequel--for the purposes of exploring a larger world--and the fact that we don't have one is a little disappointing and adds to the sense of being unfinished in some ways.

I didn't hate this book, but I was definitely disappointed by it--it does make me want to return to the Imperial Radch series, so I can experience that world again!

Jul 21, 2017

This won't be for everyone. It can be a bit dry and mundane in places but then turn around and be brilliant. I would say I appreciated this book, more than enjoyed it. I happen to love Ursula Le Guin, both as a person and a writer so I was very patient with this book and feel I got a lot out of it. It's very thought provoking and has some fantastic quotes.

profdavis Jul 07, 2017

After Dune, the frozen world of Gethen is probably the most fully realized alien world in Science Fiction. The planet itself is interesting, but the fascinating thing are the gender neutral Gethenians and their byzantine politics.

Apr 18, 2017

It is written like a summary of events- not really detailed or emotionally descriptive. Events are recapped quickly with little sense of inclusion so you feel like you are on the sidelines and not in the action.

This book was very disappointing. The topic is interesting and I really expected more depth of insight on the gender aspect of the book, but it seemed more like a gimmick for shock value than a genuine part of the theme.

Dec 07, 2016

Science Fiction is the domain of "what if", and this book lands squarely in that domain. Le Guin asks, what if there were humans who were perfect hermaphrodites and asexual most of the time? What if they built a society around that structure? What if gender did not define actions or roles? When The Left Hand of Darkness was released in 1969, those ideas were still fringe, to an extent, and even today continue to be viewed with apprehension in some quarters. This story sets a background of interstellar travel, to create an altered image of humanity, and ultimately reflect on our local interactions.

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