The Left Hand of Darkness
Genly Ai is an ethnologist observing the people of the planet Gethen, a world perpetually in winter. The people there are androgynous, normally neuter, but they can become male or female at the peak of their sexual cycle.
They seem to Genly Ai alien, unsophisticated and confusing. But he is drawn into the complex politics of the planet and, during a long, tortuous journey...more
'Androgynous' - Which is how I could not help but picture the Gethenians.
"A man wants his virility regarded, a woman wants her femininity appreciated, however indirect and subtle the indications of regard and appreciation. On Winter they will not exist. One is...more
“I'll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination.”
I can't say why it's taken me so many years to finally get to The Left Hand of Darkness. Perhaps because every time I passed it in a bookstore or library it looked like a typical dated 1960s sci-fi novel. But it is so much more than that.
This book is quite astonishing. Hannah Gadsby has made me reluctant to say "ahead of its time" but if any book is ahead of its ...more
And then you decide to give an author a go because of some weird research string you were on... and it rekindles your love of why you started reading it in the first place.
LeGuin approaches sci-fi as it should be; a thought experiment. Instead of spending pages upon pages describing the minutiae of every ...more
Many readers cannot help but comment upon the Gethenians physiological androgyny, and this is certainly a central theme of the story, but there is so much more to fascinate the reader. Le Guin has demonstrated again how she can ...more
In the nascent days of summer, I read a book that I can’t stop thinking about and can’t stop recommending. I’m stirring from my Goodreads silence to tell you about this book, Left Hand of Darkness, by the late Ursula K. Le Guin. Written in 1969 and the winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards, this book is just as relevant and important today as it was when it first hit the shelves. Left Hand of Darkness is a gorgeous sci-fi novel of political ...more
and darkness the right hand of light.
Two are one, life and death, lying
together like lovers in kemmer,
like hands joined together,
like the end and the way.”
This was written in the sixties, though it feels like it was written yesterday. Ursula K. Le Guin creates a vivid culture of ambisexual humanoids that come with a detailed history and culture. And it is truly fascinating to read about because such discussions and representations of gender and sex are ...more
"The Left Hand of Darkness" is a work of science fiction published by Ursula Le Guin in 1969.
At the time, it sought to differentiate itself from most other science fiction in two ways.
Firstly, as Le Guin explains in a subsequent introduction, it didn’t just take a current phenomenon and extrapolate it scientifically into the future in some predictive or cautionary fashion.
Secondly, it explored the nature of sexuality as a subject matter from a sophisticated, feminist point ...more
“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.Is Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness only a science fiction story? Far from it, and that is why I enjoyed it so much. Oh, I like reading science-fiction, sometimes just for the entertainment of it. But this goes much beyond that. Different from some reviews, for me it did not seem a feminist advocacy. I would venture and say it is an anti-prejudice assertion. It is just a ...more
Sex is awkward no matter how you look at it - arguably yet another design flaw in our species. Solo sex is likely to be unsatisfying. Straight sex is fraught with gendered miscommunication. Gay sex presents serious reproductive issues. Transgender sex is... well, complicated. And all those don't even consider the morass of multiple simultaneous partners. But Ursula la/le Guin introduces a whole new level of awkwardness in her ambisexual humanoid aliens who shift gender ...more
Mr. Ai is 17 light years from the nearest planet affiliated with his interstellar league, Ekumen. Karhide is a monarchy on the frozen planet of Gethen. Ai has come to Karhide on a diplomatic mission and has found a receptive ear in Estraven, the prime minister. The novel has a Gothic feel but soon hints of palace intrigue. Sure enough, before you can whistle Dixie, Estraven falls from royal favor. The king it turns out is ...more
In Speculative Fiction, technology is not there to facilitate the plot, or to dazzle readers with fantasy, but to provide the author with an opportunity to explore the human mind in unexpected, ...more
So says SF legend, Ms. Ursula K. Le Guin, in ...more
And darkness the right hand of light.
On the distant world of Winter, ambisexual beings have lived in solitude for as long as anyone can remember. This peace is shattered when an envoy arrives from the Ekumen, offering the nations of Winter the opportunity to join a vast alliance of thousands of worlds…
This book was my first foray into the science fiction works of Ursula K. Le Guin, already one of my favourite authors. I did not find it quite as strong as the ...more
I'm going to stick with 4 stars here. Review to come.
Initial post: Next up read from Ursula K. Le Guin: The Hainish Novels and Stories.* This one I read back in my college days, so my memories of it are pretty hazy. The unusual sexuality of the people on the planet Gethen, or Winter -- sometimes androgynous, sometimes male, sometimes female -- has stuck with me, but ...more
The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label
Book #18: The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K Le Guin (1969)
The story in a nutshell:
A highly unusual and controversial book at the time of its release (but ...more
Originally published at Fantasy Literature
The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), part of THE HAINISH CYCLE, won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best SF Novel, and is well known as one of the first books in the genre to intelligently explore the nature of gender and identity. Ursula K. LeGuin is a highly respected writer known for her anthropological and humanistic approach to SF, and her presence has ...more
This is a short novel and a lot is packed into a few pages. The central ...more
The six-letter word, not the three-letter word "sex" of the child - because gender involves our perception of what the child will be, our expectations of what roles the child will perform in the future - the life of the child is determined right away when we ask this question. As Judith Butler puts it, Gender is Performance.
But imagine a world where genders can be changed at will - an androgynous world where humans remain in neuter ...more
"The Left Hand of Darkness" turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise for me. I do not read science fiction often and had to abandon my last attempt ("The Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy") for its utter stupidity, but this book was a sci-fi of a completely different sort. It wasn't just another novel about green aliens or space travel, it was an extremely clever and deep exploration of gender.
Genly Ai is an emissary of the Ekumen (a union of human worlds) to planet ...more
Amygdala: So. Sex and violence, huh?
Cerebral Cortex: Sorry, what? Where did that come from?
A: Well, we're reading The Left hand of Darkness aren't we?
CC: Yes, but this isn't some scantily-clad lady with a raygun, pew-pew-laserfest. This is a serious science fiction novel. You must have noticed that that we haven't had to hide the cover on the train. That's how serious it is.
A: Yes, but it's all about sex and violence.
CC: (sighs) Let’s look at this rationally. ...more
Truth is a matter of the imagination...
It is not easy to limit this hauntingly beautiful novel to one central idea. It is about difficulty of communication, about dualism and wholeness, war and civilization, friendship, trust and human relationships. All this is set in a cold cold world where the mark of civilization is not comfort but survival. The planet of Gethen (Winter) is still in the Ice Age and the two countries described in the book are situated on a relatively small strip of land ...more
I hated the harsh, intricate, obstinate demands that he made on me in the name of life.4.5/5
This is no The Dispossessed, a judgment equal parts quality of the work and personal taste of the reader, unfair and yet true if one keeps in mind that, regardless of individual ratings, I regard Le Guin as a gift to literature. Plenty are the authors who forge ahead with little regard for the reader, nearly ubiquitous are the ones who stay stolidly put in the kiddy pool out of want and necessity, ...more
It follows Genly Ai, an envoy from the Ekumen (a perhaps-utopian union of worlds) to the planet Gethen, where the entire habitable zone of the planet has a climate at the extreme cold end of human tolerance - and where Gethenian natives lack biological sex and gender, but can unpredictably develop either male or female ...more
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