Emily's Reviews > The Dispossessed

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
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's review
Dec 22, 2011

really liked it
Read in December, 2011

On another world, that is not so very much unlike our own, there was a rebellion of anarchists. Those who denied the idea of law, of property, and of possession, who only saw brotherhood, acceptance and the joy of doing work for its own sake, not in order to earn money to live. That world was able to rid the anarchists by giving them the moon on which to live and grow their quasi-communist society. 160 years later, a theoretical scientist living on this moon comes up with an idea that could change the lives of everyone on both worlds, in addition to the other societies of aliens heretofore discovered, that of Earth and Hain. Nominally, that’s what this book is about. In practice, it is much more of a commentary and comparison with the anarchist society and our own. It’s a thought experiment. How would that society function? What does a marriage look like? Would the human characteristics of greed and power-seeking still seep back in?

In chapters that alternate between Shevek the scientist’s early life leading up to his trip back to the mother world of Urras and his experiences on Urras, LeGuin compares and contrasts practices and customs through the eyes of one who has only ever lived in sharing and harmony with his fellow man. The result is fascinating, if a little devoid of plot. This is okay with me because I prefer this kind of science fiction, but if your type is a little more space opera and a little less philosophical, you might not enjoy it as much.
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