Andrea's Reviews > The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2011, feminism, science-fiction, gender

Genly Ai is an envoy from a federation of planets who share trade, science, and art for the betterment of personkind. He is on a mission to attempt to bring a newly discovered planet into the fold, a harsh and forbidding world that was named Winter by those who first visited. On this world, humans are neither male nor female until they enter their monthly mating cycle, at which point they could become either. This is not the plot of the story, just the backdrop, though the effects of the lack of dichotomy among humans has interesting effects on the society. Genly is in danger as the governments on this world try and decide how to react to his presence, which some consider a danger or invasion.

At first, I had a really hard time understanding the characters from Winter because of the unusual social system that controls most of their communication based on some hard-to-define requirements for reputation. I also had a hard time connecting with Estraven, but I realized that most of that had to do with the main character's inability to accept Estraven as a whole person, and once they made that break through in the story, it was much more easy to cheer for them as a team. I appreciated the interspersed myths that informed the societies and the story. As a feminist work, it seems a little quaint now, though reproduction and childcare being thought of as a responsibility for every human, instead of half of the species is still something the world is struggling with today. Still, I enjoyed it.

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message 1: by Kathy (new) - added it

Kathy Wheeler I LOVED this book!

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