Ian’s review of The Left Hand of Darkness > Likes and Comments

101 likes · 
Comments Showing 1-50 of 63 (63 new)    post a comment »

message 1: by Kim (new)

Kim I have to read some Ursula Le Guin. I've stupidly spent most of my life avoiding science fiction.


message 2: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye This is part of a quick read in the Mievillean Discussion Group that's happening now. I'm really looking forward to it. Why don't you join us?

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/group_...


message 3: by Kim (new)

Kim I might do that, Ian. Thanks for the invite. I'll see how I go with (a) getting hold of the book and (b)making the time to read it. I haven't read any Miéville, though, so the discussion could well go sailing over my head.


message 4: by Brian (new)

Brian Another very well written and interesting review, Ian. Nicely done.


message 5: by Brian (new)

Brian Do my eyes deceive me? Did the rating just jump a star? Yay!!


message 6: by Bill (new)

Bill i read this for a sf course i took at university in 1973, so have completely forgotten it, but i remember really liking it. must read it again.


message 7: by Kim (new)

Kim Great review. Ian. I'll be reading this next.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Ambisexuality sounds frustrating to me.


message 9: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich Wow, this sounds good. Phenomenal review, as always. I really need to check out Le Guin, aside from her one short story everyone reads in school.


message 10: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Brian wrote: "Do my eyes deceive me? Did the rating just jump a star? Yay!!"

It did, indeed. I wondered about the need for so much material about the journey and originally gave it four stars. Then I realised that the other content that I loved far outweighed it. The way I rate, I don't require a book to be perfect, whatever that could mean anyway, to award five stars.


message 11: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Anthony wrote: "Ambisexuality sounds frustrating to me."

Haha. Ironically, it's supposed to be the opposite.


message 12: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye s.penkevich wrote: "Wow, this sounds good. Phenomenal review, as always. I really need to check out Le Guin, aside from her one short story everyone reads in school."

Thanks, spenke. I'm sure you'd love it. What is the short story?


message 13: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Kim wrote: "Great review. Ian. I'll be reading this next."

Thanks, Kim. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It would be great to get some different perspectives. There was a lot I didn't discuss, because of concerns about spoilers.


message 14: by [deleted user] (last edited May 09, 2013 03:44PM) (new)

Ian wrote: "Haha. Ironically, it's supposed to be the opposite."

Say what you will, about gender roles and expectations, but it's a struggle enough to get being just one right (if ever). Having to worry about whether I will be male or female would be stressful. And imagine if you like being one over the other, but like bad luck at a coin toss, you keep getting heads everytime you say tails. Plus you have to perform in different ways to attract different sexes during these periods? I'll stick with the frustrations of being a heterosexual male, thanks.


message 15: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Brian wrote: "Another very well written and interesting review, Ian. Nicely done."

Thanks, Brian. I hope you like it ;)


message 16: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Anthony wrote: "Say what you will, about gender roles and expectations, but it's a struggle enough to get being just one right (if ever). Having to worry about whether I will be male or female would be stressful. ..."

I think you're right there. The Gethenians didn't envy us at all. Their way, the struggle was taken out of the equation, because it was more like a lucky dip, and they didn't care what they ended up with. Both options were equally attractive. It seemed that the sex act was very immediate as well.


message 17: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich Ian wrote: "What is the short story? "

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, which is great (I wrote a parody of it for a class in high school called 'The One's Who Walk Away From Omelet's). Read that in high school and again in college, always meant to check the rest of her work out. Interestingly enough, a co-worker of my just told me the other day this was his favorite book.


message 18: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye As a fan of Proust, for some reason, that title immediately made me think of "The Ones Who Walk Away From Cattleyas".


message 19: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich Haha, I'd read that! Doctor Cottard would be jealous.


message 20: by Brian (new)

Brian Ian wrote: "Anthony wrote: "Ambisexuality sounds frustrating to me."

Haha. Ironically, it's supposed to be the opposite."


This is 100% truth


message 21: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Brian wrote: "This is 100% truth"

My original response had been that it might be like being bi-sexual and not knowing the gender of your next sex partner, but then I remembered that the Gethenians actually (view spoiler)


message 22: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Keeten Le Guin always took on such great themes for her books. I have a copy of this book and hope to read it this year sometime. I liked the way you divided your review up into snippets. I've seen you do this before, and I find it very effective. As always great review! Intriguing concepts, eliminating the domination of gender would give us an opportunity for true equality. Case in point my wife called service people to look at our air conditioning unit. The guy told her it would be $250. I arrived talked to him for a few minutes and the bill was reduced to $127. My wife rather sarcastically said, "I'm so glad my penis finally showed up." *Sigh* I so want to be so much more. :-)


message 23: by Dolors (new)

Dolors Brilliant! Ian, your crafted review piqued my interest. It sounds like a mix between Atwood and Huxley and that can only mean this is a sure shot.
My TBR is growing exponentially, frighteningly growing, I mean to say.


message 24: by Derek (new)

Derek Ian wrote: "The Gethenians didn't envy us at all. Their way, the struggle was taken out of the equation, because it was more like a lucky dip, and they didn't care what they ended up with. "

That's the "ideal" - but of course they have their "perverts", who do care, and use drugs to ensure that they become the sex they want.


message 25: by Samadrita (new)

Samadrita Must get myself some Le Guin now.


message 26: by Steve (new)

Steve We can always count on you for top-notch exegesis, Ian! I didn't realize this one was so strong with its ground-breaking treatment of sexuality and the feminine perspective.


message 27: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Steve wrote: "We can always count on you for top-notch exegesis, Ian!"

Thanks, Steve. The Exegesis? Sounds like something that would make your head spin!


message 28: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Jeffrey wrote: "Le Guin always took on such great themes for her books. I have a copy of this book and hope to read it this year sometime. I liked the way you divided your review up into snippets. I've seen you do..."

Thanks, Jeffrey. I love your wife's comment.

Whether my reviews are long or short, I like to use headings as breaks and signposts. One large paragraph with no breaks makes me feel like I have to dive in and hold my breath for the duration, which I still do. Plus I like to have a bit of fun with the name of the heading.


message 29: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Derek wrote: "That's the "ideal" - but of course they have their "perverts", who do care, and use drugs to ensure that they become the sex they want."

I like the way she uses this as a way to effectively make a monosexual a pervert, although we probably wouldn't use the word "pervert" any more.


message 30: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Dolors wrote: "Brilliant! Ian, your crafted review piqued my interest. It sounds like a mix between Atwood and Huxley and that can only mean this is a sure shot."

Thanks, Dolors. I have to read some Atwood. Where to start?

I chose to explore only a few of the book's themes in my review. There is a whole other political strand where your allusion to Huxley (and also Orwell) is even more relevant. I can't wait to see what you think.


message 31: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Samadrita wrote: "Must get myself some Le Guin now."

And I must get some more.


message 32: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Bennet wrote: "I read this long ago and still have the paperback, love it, love Le Guin. Great review, and it really does the story and herself justice."

Thanks, JB, I would love to see you review it. I would love to have written more about the politics and the diplomacy, and the influence on China Mieville.


message 33: by Steve (new)

Steve Ian wrote: "Thanks, Steve. The Exegesis? Sounds like something that would make your head spin!"

Haha, no, it's not quite the same. It doesn't make anyone spew pea soup either.


message 34: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye It's a great word, even without pea soup!


message 35: by Dolors (new)

Dolors Ian wrote: "Thanks, Dolors. I have to read some Atwood. Where to start?"

Mmm...I'd recommend The Handmaid's Tale, and even though I think this novel won't leave you indifferent, I should warn you that there has been a lot of controversy about it.
Let me know your opinion if you ever decide to give it a try! :)


message 36: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy It has been a long time since I've touched any of her work since I found her very preachy and leading: an issues fiction writer. I can't even remember what it was I read... So her story-telling manages to overcome the agenda in this work?


message 37: by Derek (new)

Derek No...

The last Atwood I read was Happy Zombie Sunrise Home. It wasn't preachy, but then it wasn't very good, either.


message 38: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Dolors wrote: "Ian wrote: "Mmm...I'd recommend The Handmaid's Tale, and even though I think this novel won't leave you indifferent, I should warn you that there has been a lot of controversy about it.
Let me know your opinion if you ever decide to give it a try! :) "


Haha, goody, just what I need, another controversy!


message 39: by Dolors (new)

Dolors Jeremy wrote: "It has been a long time since I've touched any of her work since I found her very preachy and leading: an issues fiction writer. I can't even remember what it was I read... So her story-telling man..."

Well, I wouldn't call her voice preachy in this particular novel. She's been labelled as a feminist who uses sci-fi to make a point on her own views about society.
The Handmaid's tale produced mixed feelings in me, but it struck a chord, and I always take that as a good signal when reading a book.


message 40: by Traveller (last edited May 11, 2013 04:24AM) (new)

Traveller Jeremy wrote: "It has been a long time since I've touched any of her work since I found her very preachy and leading: an issues fiction writer. I can't even remember what it was I read... So her story-telling man..."

Nope, I must admit that I found a lot of fault with the story-telling, sadly. I never found the novel to be an immersive experience.

She does raise some interesting points, so, as speculative fiction, its probably worth reading. But don't expect fluid or immersive narrative.

Oh, you are talking about Le Guin here, not Atwood, right? Atwood's style is MUCH more immersive--almost a modernist style.

Le Guin's writing comes across as very "stiff" as opposed to Atwood, and her "issues" are much more visible;-she barely disguises them. Okay, she doesn't diguise them at all. :P


message 41: by Traveller (last edited May 16, 2013 03:20AM) (new)

Traveller Anthony wrote: "Ian wrote: "Haha. Ironically, it's supposed to be the opposite."

Say what you will, about gender roles and expectations, but it's a struggle enough to get being just one right (if ever). Having to..."


No worries about that, Anthony. It doesn't work this way at all in the book. Every person has the organs for both sexes. To an extent, one can choose which role you're going to play, and of course, the role of female is often chosen, so that the person can bear children. But since partners are freely chosen, one can choose if you want to function at being girl or boy by choosing someone who prefers the opposite gender.

Of course, since everyone has been either sex at least once (it only happens for a few days once a month) everybody knows what the expectation of the other side is, and so everybody is pretty relaxed about it all. No pressure!

Unfortunately Le Guin lost a few opportunities with her choice of language and a few other matters.


message 42: by Derek (new)

Derek I don't agree with a couple of those points - but it's worth discussing in the group discussion, so I'm taking it back there.


message 43: by Bruce (new)

Bruce Good review. Do you think that LeGuin was playing with the construct of asexuality as "frigidity" in placing her androgynes on planet Winter? Or is that trivia?


message 44: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Fun thought. It might be a reason why some external genitalia, especially the male, might have retracted inside the body, thus androgynising both genders.


message 45: by Bruce (new)

Bruce That's a really good point. Along those lines and absent long-standing fur-lined accessories, I would expect the Gethenians' bodies to be short, thick, stocky, matted densely with hair, and heavily lined with fat (basically, penguin or walrus-like). Hips would be midsized (neither femininely broad nor masculinely narrow) and mammaries small or at least kept flush against the torso (ballooning outward during kemmer and otherwise receding, assuming they remained a sexual signal or became milk-bearing). Depending on fur and levels of ultraviolet exposure, cold, windy conditions could well lead to leathery, tough (if not necessarily heavily pigmented) skin.

It's weird, though. I would think geographically-specific conditions would also lend itself to social and cultural effects (in part attributable to location-specific xenobiology). It strikes me that LeGuin would be hyper-aware of this. If you have any further insights as to why she gave her world its particular climate, I'd be keen to read them.

(I'm also trying valiantly to interest my 13 y.o. daughter's book club in this classic, if nothing else as an antidote/respite from the stream of contemporary romantic dystopic YA fiction series that have been all their rage. Any wedge into more sophisticated material is therefore a good one!)


message 46: by Derek (new)

Derek Bruce wrote: "That's a really good point. Along those lines and absent long-standing fur-lined accessories, I would expect the Gethenians' bodies to be short, thick, stocky, matted densely with hair, and heavily..."

Which is all basically the case (except the dense hair). I believe everything else was mentioned.

"I would think geographically-specific conditions would also lend itself to social and cultural effects (in part attributable to location-specific xenobiology)."

You mean differences across Gethen? There is no appreciable axial tilt, and a narrow habitable zone, so I wouldn't expect huge differences. The island nations are probably different in interesting ways, but we know practically nothing about them.

Good luck with getting the offspring to read anything you'd like!


message 47: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Derek wrote: "...Good luck with getting the offspring to read anything you'd like! "

My approach has been to leave things on the shelf in the hope that one day the girls might be tempted. Unfortunately, I think the fact that they are analogue books might count against them.


message 48: by Cecily (new)

Cecily I wish I'd enjoyed the book as much as I enjoyed your review!


message 49: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Cecily wrote: "I wish I'd enjoyed the book as much as I enjoyed your review!"

Thanks, Cecily. That's such a beautiful thing to say and I really appreciate it. I had no idea this novel would create such ructions.


message 50: by Cecily (last edited May 16, 2013 03:29AM) (new)

Cecily Ian wrote: "...I had no idea this novel would create such ructions"

I only skimmed the ructions, as I was (fortunately) away on holiday, squinting at the screen of my phone, so only skimming the comments.


« previous 1
back to top