Su's Reviews > The Lathe of Heaven

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
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's review
Dec 04, 08

bookshelves: recommended
Read in June, 2008

As with everything she writes, Ursula Le Guin has crafted some rich, beautiful and somewhat sad (though never depressing) characters and set them in a world of wildest intrigue. Renowned for her "social/anthropological experimentation" in her sci-fi novels, Le Guin sets this novel on earth in Portland, OR, to be exact) and gives us a dystopian future novel that is so imaginative and fascinating that it feels we are on another world by the end of it (aliens do, in fact, visit earth briefly). As wacky as that and the premise of the book--what happens if whatever you dream becomes reality?--it is not a wacky or funny story, and is all the more stirring and endearing for it.

Our reluctant protagonist, George Orr, is a quiet, unassuming man who starts out very much as a victim. A mysterious and terrible past/true reality is hinted at the very beginning, but we first come to rest in a slightly and predictably dystopian future where overpopulation, pollution and all the things that are bound to happen in fifty years' time have happened. George is caught taking illegal doses of a dream-suppressing drug and sent to see a state shrink as punishment. In actuality, all George wants is to keep from dreaming so that he won't end up accidentally changing the world in a terrible way while sleeping, but his psychiatrist--a robust and arrogant but unusually well-meaning alpha male type--decides that he wants to use George's power to change the world for the better--whether George consents to it or not! As the good doctor's hypnosis-induced dreaming forces him to dream away world problems (and inadvertently, five-sixths of the world's population), George must find a way to escape his mad benefactor and somehow make reality right again.

A fascinating tale told by one of the most brilliant authors in fiction today--definitely worth reading!
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