The Lathe of Heaven is a concept novel. It has some great philosophical points to chew on involving good vs. evil, selflessness, power, dependence, anThe Lathe of Heaven is a concept novel. It has some great philosophical points to chew on involving good vs. evil, selflessness, power, dependence, and reality. We may want to deplete the world of hunger/racism/war, but is a more "comfortable" world necessarily a better one? Le Guin sets up each scene with beautiful pieces of atmospheric prose.
The concept of dreams predicting the future is a familiar one, but what about dreams that alter the future and reality? In the case of George Orr, it is possible to change the course of humanity without really trying--all he has to do is fall asleep and let his unconscious mind take over. But he is guilt-stricken with the possibilities of his dreams (in one case, he dreamt his aunt died, and the next day she was killed). In order to rid himself of this "curse," he does anything in his power to stay awake. When he consults dream researcher Dr. Haber, things get dangerous, as the doctor sees some striking advantages to Orr's condition.
But once the stream of possibilities is established (about halfway through), the rest of the book just flushes those possibilities to their extremes. For me, the most engaging moments of the book were the subtly haunting possibilities, rather than the complete earth-altering ones. The book's message wouldn't be as profound if the earth's reality didn't change so drastically, but the true fascination of the book exists within its first 50 pages, when our imaginations are challenged the most. (Okay, that was vague, but I didn't want to give away too much.) Many people adore the character of George Orr, but he never really came to life for me. His relationship with Heather, his lawyer, was borderline meaningful--I never found myself profoundly rooting for them.
Written in 1971 as a futuristic story, Lathe of Heaven is still haunting to read in 2006. It will appeal to sci-fi fans or anyone who wants to explore extreme possibilities. ...more