The Dispossessed (Hainish Cycle, #5)
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The Dispossessed (Hainish Cycle #5)

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  28,602 ratings  ·  1,450 reviews
Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life--Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian m...more
Paperback, 387 pages
Published October 20th 1994 by Harper Voyager (first published February 1st 1974)
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Community Reviews

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Manny
First of all: if you haven't already read The Dispossessed, then do so. Somehow, probably because it comes with an SF sticker, it isn't yet officially labeled as one of the great novels of the 20th century. They're going to fix that eventually, so why not get in ahead of the crowd? It's not just a terrific story; it might change your life. Ursula Le Guin is saying some pretty important stuff here.

So, what is it she's saying that's so important? I've read the book several times since I first came...more
Joe S
Oh, Ursula. No longer will I love you in a vaguely ashamed manner, skulking through chesty-women-blow-shit-up-also-monster! book covers in the sci-fi/fantasy aisles with a moderate velocity as though I am actually trying to find Civil War biographies but am amusingly lost amongst all these shelves, that's so like me, need a GPS for Borders. Today, I will begin loving you publicly, proudly, for you are the Anti-Ayn Rand. You do not skullf**k Ayn Rand and make her your bitch, no, too easy. You tak...more
mark monday
Why America Is Full of Toxic Bullshit and Why Ambiguous Utopias Need to Check Themselves Before They Wreck Themselves Going Down the Same Fucked-Up Path
by Ursula K. Le Guin.

this excellent novel-cum-political treatise-cum-extended metaphor for the States lays its thesis out in parallel narratives. in the present day (far, far, far in the future), heroically thoughtful protagonist Shevek visits the thinly-veiled States of the nation A-Io on the planet Urras in order to both work on his Theory of...more
Jeffrey Keeten
When I started this novel I was a little worried because the prose seemed clunky and I was having a hard time settling into the novel. After a few pages that all changed, either I adjusted to her writing style or the writing smoothed out. If you experience this, hang in there, it is well worth sticking with this book.

Dispossessed4

I see some reviewers think of The Dispossessed as an anti-Ayn Rand book. I didn't come away with that impression at all. I thought LeGuin did an excellent job of showing the fallac...more
Megan Baxter
Human nature tends towards, not entropy, but bureaucracy.

I fear my review might focus more on Anarres and less on Urras, as it was the Anarrian sections that interested me more, the attempts to sustain (founding was the easy part) an anarcho-syndicalist society over a long period of time. For Urras, I thought that Urras was painted in clear terms, and avoided a polemic, although it did have very pointed things to say about class, and war, and conscription, and property, and the gendering thereof...more
Brad
As a semi-retired actor, there are many literary characters I'd love to play, and for all kinds of reasons. Cardinal Richelieu and D'Artagnan spring immediately to mind, but there are countless others: Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin (Perdido Street Station), Oedipus, Holmes or Watson (I'd take either), Captain Jack Aubrey (I'd rather Stephen, but I look like Jack), Heathcliff, Lady Macbeth (yep, I meant her), Manfred, Indiana Jones. But none of them are people who I would actually like to be.

That I r...more
Aubrey
Fulfillment, Shevek thought, is a function of time. The search for pleasure is circular, repetitive, atemporal. The variety seeking of the spectator, the thrill hunter, the sexually promiscuous, always ends in the same place. It has an end. It comes to the end and has to start over. It is not a journey and return, but a closed cycle, a locked room, a cell.

Outside the locked room is the landscape of time, in which the spirit may, with luck and courage, construct the fragile, makeshift, improbabl
...more
Nataliya
Excellent book, and I've dog-eared about a third of its pages - too many messages, too little brain room left! Review to follow.

It's always easier not to think for oneself. Find a nice safe hierarchy and settle in. Don't make changes, don't risk disapproval[...] It's always easiest to let yourself be governed.
notgettingenough
May 26, 2011 notgettingenough rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to notgettingenough by: Manny
Shelves: science-fiction
Thoughts on The Dispossessed

Of the various layers of content in The Dispossessed, the most obvious is the socio-political: capitalism vs. anarchistic-communism. The claim often made is that, even though her heart is with the latter, she nonetheless treats the two structures impartially. The claim or presumption is to be found in the reviews of fantasy/science fiction devotees, those with a particular interest in anarchism and, I suspect, also those who simply read it with an uncritical eye.

I don...more
Michael
It's really weird to me that, even though I'm totally drunk, I can still type just a s well as usual. I might not be able to make it down the hall without running into walls, but I can still compose a review without a problem. Anyway, I'm here today to talk about The Dispossessed. It is a book by Ursula K Le Guin, who is badass. If it hadn't taken me like four mouths to read this book, I would've probably given it five stars. Unfortunately, it took me almost a complete semester to read the damne...more
Stephen
4.0 to 4.5 stars. A truly exceptional novel and one of the best explorations of political theory and individual freedom ever in science fiction. Too often, an author will "beat you over the head" with their beliefs and make thinly disguised speeches through cardboard characters that leave no doubt that one side is very right and the other side is very wrong. Not so in this novel.

LeGuin's ultimate message is that individual freedom is the most important commodity in the universe. In conveying th...more
jo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tatiana
Aug 03, 2010 Tatiana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: sci-fi buffs
Recommended to Tatiana by: 1001
Shelves: 1001, sci-fi, 2010, nebula
Although The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia is classified as science fiction, it is hardly a novel about aliens and space travel. Rather, it is a speculative work of fiction that explores the possibility of existence and limitations of a completely anarchist society.

At the center of the novel is the planet Anarres. Annares is populated by a community of anarchists, whose ascendants have left Anarres's sister planet Urras almost 200 years prior to escape its oppressive regimes and to establis...more
Cheryl in CC NV
I just couldn't appreciate this the way so many others do.

The way the story is told in the past, so we learn things as they're revealed rather than as the characters are experiencing them, provides a disconnect. Perhaps it is meant to serve to point out the universality of the themes - but I found that it made me feel distanced, as if none of the story mattered.

I suppose if I were younger and still interested in political ideas and revolutions, if I hadn't read, and lived through, lots of other...more
David
Sep 19, 2013 David rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: archists, propertarians, pretentious SF fans who wax on about who deserves to win Hugos
I read Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy way back when I was a kid, but I am abashed to say that until now I had never read any of her adult SF novels.

The Dispossessed holds up amazingly well for a book written nearly forty (!) years ago. In fact, forget about the publication date and it could have been written this year. Except that hardly anyone writes this kind of slow-moving, thoughtful, idea-heavy science fiction any more. The Dispossessed won a Hugo, a Nebula, a World Fantasy Award, and the Natio...more
Penny
This one makes my top 10 all time favourites list and I can't wait to read it again since it's the kind of book one only gets more and more from.

Although Le Guin doesn't offer all the answers, she does pose many questions in new light and with a clarity that takes your breath away. Revolution, anarchy, profit, the role of language in shaping how we think, the motivation for excluding women from education, the drivers of scientific research, ethics, the nature of time, ownership, power, love, sa...more
Eric
Mar 18, 2014 Eric rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Eric by: Manny Citron
This discourse on dystopias won Hugo, Nebula, Locus, World Fantasy, and National Book awards, and almost every single one of my Goodreads friends that has read it has it tagged with a 4 or 5 star rating. So clearly, the problem here is with me, because I really hated this book -- and it isn't because this book is dated or aged poorly, because the Cold War era slant of this book plays perfectly to a modern audience considering the current state of Russian-U.S. relations.

I'm giving it two stars b...more
C.
Damn, I wavered over this book. Three or four stars? Two or five stars? One star? Zero stars? I went for four in the end, solely - solely - because I've never encountered a utopian world (or dystopian world, for that matter) that is so convincing. I haven't read enough, I know - but the moral complexity involved in constructing and maintaining this anarchist community on the moon was completely wonderful. Shevek's questioning of the underlying rules governing his world, his soul-searching, the p...more
Carlo
A truly great book.

What is Freedom? Ursula K. Le Guin gave what I believe to be the best answer to this question. She shouts about how Freedom is by no means synonymous to a risk-free life. It will absolutely entail hardship, heavy labor and insecurity. I remember once reading an interview with Chomsky where he was asked about Anarchism and how the Anarchist society might be. He answered that there are no ready-made answers to this question. He stressed that "we have to try and see". I found hi...more
Mike
My first copy of "The Dispossessed" was the first mass market paperback edition. It is long gone. My current copy is an e-book, something I could not imagine when I held the thick paged paperback in my hands.

It is interesting to see this book chosen as the October selection for the goodreads group, "Literary Explorations." I do not know how the book was chosen, as I am new to the group. However, I launched into "The Dispossessed" with as much determination as I did the first time I read it.

"Why,...more
Wealhtheow
Mar 20, 2008 Wealhtheow rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: Gremlin Jane?
Shevek is a brilliant physicist living on Anarres. His world is actually a moon populated with the anarchist rebels of Urras. Anarres is utopic in many ways, but stifling to free thought, so Shevek flees to Urras. There, he finds himself too swaddled in privileges.

My inarticulate summary doesn't give the slightest hint of how incredible this book is. Le Guin turns her thoughtful, earthy eye on each form of government and lifestyle in the 9 Known Worlds, from the utilitarian anarchists to the ov...more
Daniel Roy
Calling this book "perfect" would do it an injustice. Its brilliance is not so much in meeting SF standards, but in exceeding them and leaving them far behind.

The Dispossessed is a complex novel. It's not complex in terms of structure or themes; it's not a hard book to read. Quite the opposite. But it manages to touch on so many aspects of the human experience at once that it's hard to sum up what makes it so fascinating.

At the heart of it all is Shevek. Shevek, so complex and delightful to read...more
Ben Babcock
The success of The Dispossessed lies in Le Guin's presentation of two distinct visions of utopia. Each feels that the other is an aberration. Both are superior to the contemporary government of Earth, which at this stage has just barely managed to avoid destroying Earth's biome. Yet both are dysfunctional, have strayed from whatever utopian ideals may have founded them. They are not failed experiments, but they are not entirely successful either—owing to human nature—and Le Guin shows us the bes...more
Themba
Not just a goodread, positively an amazing read. o.k, i still have fifty pages to go but what the hell. talk about "sinewy grace" in prose, this is the definition of it, sparse and organic what more could you ask for. Also, the world-building, the logical clarity in composing and thinking through the cultural encounter of two utterly alien civilization is quite, well, otherworldly. in case you want to know what life in an anarchist society might look like, this is probably the best place to begi...more
Michael
I must admit I groaned a bit when I started The Dispossessed, a book about aliens and their different social structures. I’ve read books like this and I wasn’t really in the mood for another Sci-Fi book about anarchist societies. It is a bit dry and difficult to read but I did end up finding this book really interesting. I did end up finding the most interesting parts of this book was the different societies and how no could ever be perfect. The Dispossessed is just a giant metaphor about the wo...more
Jamie
I'm going to very guiltily give two stars to this award-winning science fiction classic. It's just not my cup of tea. I'm glad I read it, and it's certainly not a bad book, but it just didn't appeal to me, neither the prose nor the type of story.
Myles
What is there to be said? I am in awe.

I have written before about my awe at Le Guin's talent. Why is Earthsea so revered? More and more I've come to see it as her most simplistic and dry work. Her science fiction pushes boundaries of philosophy and society. Her books on other civilizations makes me look differently at our own.

The Dispossessed is a powerful story about Shevek, a physicist, who is brought to the planet Urras, specifically the nation of A-Io, because his brand of thinking is the mi...more
Kim
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jonatron
My ex had me read this, as it was her favorite book. It didn't really click with me at first, but I've been thinking of it ever since, and I think it has actually become one of my favorites.

In the afternoon, when he cautiously looked outside, he saw an armored car stationed across the street and two others slewed across the street at the crossing. That explained the shouts he had been hearing: it would be soldiers giving orders to each other.

Atro had once explained to him how this was managed, h
...more
Sesana
The Dispossessed is Le Guin's view of an anarchist utopia. And yet, it isn't exceptionally creepy or too horribly far-fetched. That's because her utopia isn't a completely perfect society where everyone is equally happy. It's just better.

We see both Anarres (the anarchist society) and Urras (the not really veiled at all analog of America) through the eyes of Shevek, a particularly thoughtful scientist. He's a good narrator, because he is thoughtful and likeable, though flawed and usually naive....more
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Le Guin vs Rand 2 28 Mar 12, 2014 12:33PM  
Sci-Fi Fantasy Bo...: The Dispossessed 3 15 Sep 21, 2013 07:35PM  
I just thought of something that is very unique with the Anarres society but never mentioned 6 71 Jul 26, 2013 03:42PM  
Anarchist & R...: [Aug/Sept] The Dispossessed - Ursula K. Le Guin 4 73 Jan 07, 2013 02:32PM  
Ursula K. LeGuin 13 156 Jul 24, 2012 10:24AM  
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As of 2013, Ursula K. Le Guin has published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia, an essay collection, Cheek by Jowl, and The Wild Girls. Forthcoming...more
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“It is our suffering that brings us together. It is not love. Love does not obey the mind, and turns to hate when forced. The bond that binds us is beyond choice. We are brothers. We are brothers in what we share. In pain, which each of us must suffer alone, in hunger, in poverty, in hope, we know our brotherhood. We know it, because we have had to learn it. We know that there is no help for us but from one another, that no hand will save us if we do not reach out our hand. And the hand that you reach out is empty, as mine is. You have nothing. You possess nothing. You own nothing. You are free. All you have is what you are, and what you give.” 125 likes
“You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.” 124 likes
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