Betty's Reviews > The Dispossessed

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
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's review
Apr 12, 2016

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2011, 2012, re-read, recs-for-my-sister
Read from March 22 to April 02, 2012

This is everything I love about science fiction/speculative fiction. So the premise is that there's this world, Urras, and the main country is basically an exaggerated version of the US- a capitalist democracy. A couple hundred years ago, there was a rebellion that was eventually settled by the revolutionaries moving to the planet's moon, Anarres, and setting up a socialist anarchic society. The main character is this brilliant physicist/philosopher who, seeing the problems in his own society and wanting to establish social and cultural trade between his planet and Urras, decides to travel there as an unofficial ambassador (unofficial, obviously, because his society is an anarchy).

Rather than overtly endorsing any given system, LeGuin does an amazing job of breaking down the emotional and psychic tolls that any broken government or society will take on its individual members. Her characters are so three-dimensional (it actually just reminded me of all the failings of Asimov to do the same) and despite the relative plotlessness of the book (it is mostly a lot of conversations under different circumstances), the structure of the book keeps things moving along a clear arc that, for me, provided sufficient dramatic tension. At any rate, this is excellent just as a novel, or as a treatise on political systems (and oh lord, so much more effective than Atlas Shrugged, in that LeGuin's characters aren't just angular sexy archetypes that couldn't possibly exist in the real world, and plus LeGuin has a deep understanding of class issues and prejudices that occur in every social group) and I'd certainly recommend it without hesitation.
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Reading Progress

03/28 "Whenever I get too depressed or anxious from news and politics, LeGuin's writing is like a salve or a mother's hand on the forehead that comforts and comprehends all at once."
04/09 marked as: read

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