Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels discussion

The Dispossessed
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Monthly Reading: Discussion > May 2018 "The Dispossessed" Discussion <Caution! Spoilers May Be Present!>

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message 1: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 4 stars

Art | 2546 comments Mod
May 2018 "The Dispossessed" Discussion


message 2: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 4001 comments Mod
I finished it a few days ago and was quite impressed. To some extent I summarized what moved me in my review but I'll be glad to discuss the (im-)possibility of stable anarchic society

My review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 3: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kateblue | 4071 comments Mod
So, Oleksandr, I read your review of The Dispossessed (nice job) which made me think--is it this big political discussion back-and-forth the whole way through? Does anything really happen other than political discussion? Is there any action? Adventure? Romance? Plot of any kind other than the mimimus necessary to drive the political/philosophical message? Because I have been waiting for the adventure to start, and so far, nada.

I'm where he has just landed on Urras and has gone to the reception and is now back in a hotel or in his college rooms afterwards with guys standing around. (The reason I am so vague is I have not looked at the book in two weeks. I think I am at about 15%.)

So, given that I read for entertainment and escape, not thought provoking stuff--which I've gotten, in plenty, in every job I have held for years--would you say Six Wakes would be more to my taste than The Dispossessed?

Given our differing reactions to the Difference Engine and (maybe) to this book, I think that you and I may be interested in very different kinds of books. That's great. I admire someone who reads meaty volumes with social meaning and artistic merit. I, however, am more likely to love a book where the girl falls in love with the vampire. (Although many of those books are horribly boring!)

So, your review makes it sound like it's sort of the same all the way through?

Thanks!


message 4: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited May 15, 2018 06:30AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kateblue | 4071 comments Mod
P.S. I tried to read this book years ago and failed. At least I have gotten further this time. I think.


message 5: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan | 480 comments Mod
Hey Kate, I'm not Oleksandr...he's much better looking...but I have finished this book.

So, this book is more about pure communistic society vs pure capitalistic society. By communistic society, I mean Marxism not Stalin's version of communism.

The conflict is primarily in finding out the differences and (since our hero is from the Marxist society) how Marxism is better. The ending does get a little bit faster pace...but that lasts like half a chapter.

There is a bit of romance, but not one to melt your heart. If you don't know sociological and philosophical based books...then you'll most likely not like this one. I still recommend it. It was well written and an interesting look at what our society might look like if capitalism continued to evolve in it's purest form. Where every part of every (including our bodies) are out for sell or to be owned.

Anyway, I hope that helps.


message 6: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 4001 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "So, given that I read for entertainment and escape, not thought provoking stuff--which I've gotten, in plenty, in every job I have held for years--would you say Six Wakes would be more to my taste than The Dispossessed? "

Yes, I think I'll prefer Six Wakes.
The Dispossessed has some romance (it follows the life of the protagonist, his friends and his love), but it is not central. And there is not much adventure


message 7: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 4001 comments Mod
Bryan wrote: "So, this book is more about pure communistic society vs pure capitalistic society. By communistic society, I mean Marxism not Stalin's version of communism."

It is not Marxism either - it is more Kropotkin's anarchism, for Marx was for centralized action, workers as a single, united force - this is antithesis for anarchism.


message 8: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan | 480 comments Mod
I've not heard of Kropotkin's Anarchism. I'll look that up tonight.


message 9: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 4001 comments Mod
Bryan wrote: "I've not heard of Kropotkin's Anarchism. I'll look that up tonight."

Try this Anarchism: A Collection of Revolutionary Writings


message 10: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kateblue | 4071 comments Mod
I'm at 20%. After I finished Six Wakes this morning, I went back to this one. Read about 2 pages and went "Meh."

Sorry, opting out!

It just feels like I'm trudging through it like a hated school reading assignment. I'm glad so many of you liked it, but no more for me.


message 11: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Jun 10, 2018 07:53PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Alright then, I'm not going to disrespect this great novel by trying to write a review of it, there's way to many points to touch upon and to be completely honest, while I appreciate the value of this novel, I can't say I thoroughly enjoyed it. The reason for this may lie entirely in my possibly flawed perception of the book.

I have enjoyed the main character immensely, his struggles, growth, weaknesses and strengths. It is uncanny how the character is portrayed in various situations, the author had a crystal clear vision of the main character's personality. It is rare to see such a level of consistency, especially when the story keeps jumping back and forth in time and locations and while all Shevek's actions make perfect sense in retrospect, he still managed to surprise me more than once.

However there was a bit of a turnoff in the book, I dislike novels that deal in pseudo-intellectual concepts. Be it sociology, medicine, philosophy or any other field in which direction the author leans too hard into, at some point it gets too monotonous, repetitive and boring. Clearly the author had some amazing ideas and thoughts, but instead of distilling those into an extract to spice up the novel, they were spilled in abundance on nearly every page, at times drowning out the narrative. I enjoyed the idea behind the novel, the superb world building (three worlds in one, not a bad deal!) but at times I must admit to have grown tired of not having any respite from constant "philosophical" drivel. Not that I didn't find any value in it, but cmon...

As entertainment, I would rate it as 3* personally, but as a sci-fi novel of immense proportions and consequence it deserves 5*.


Allan Phillips | 2363 comments Mod
I don't think this is a good vs. bad debate. It's clearly a superb novel, but individual opinions will vary depending on what you're looking for. If you come in looking for action, adventure or romance, you won't like it. If you like something thought-provoking, with discussion of interesting ideas, then you'll like it. I'm in the latter group. Knowing LeGuin's writing pretty well by now, I expected something literary, with beautiful, lyrical prose and interesting ideas, not so much high adventure. And I don't think this book was sold on that - the summary said as much between the lines. Her version of anarchism was fascinating to me - I wish our world could be less selfish and more altruistic, though you can't get away from human nature. I was never bored with it and was really glad I read it.


message 13: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 4 stars

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Allan wrote: "I don't think this is a good vs. bad debate. It's clearly a superb novel, but individual opinions will vary depending on what you're looking for. If you come in looking for action, adventure or rom..."

The book is thought-provoking and there's an abundance of interesting ideas, I grant you that. I just felt that some of the ideas were, uncharacteristically for Le Guin, off the point and there was little elegance in random two-bit philosophical remarks which appeared on every second page.

I don't mean I did not like the subject or found the ideas boring, I simply think that had it been more to the point, I would've enjoyed the book slightly more. When I yearn for some enlightenment, I would rather enjoy listening to Sam Harris debating Noam Chomsky, reading Michael Shermer and Daniel Dennett's works.


message 14: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 4001 comments Mod
Art wrote: "I don't mean I did not like the subject or found the ideas boring, I simply think that had it been more to the point, I would've enjoyed the book slightly more. "

My problem is that I have a knee-jerk reaction to any whitewashing of the communist regimes, for [1] I was born and grew up in the USSR and [2] in XX these regimes killed and maimed (physically and psychologically) more people than the rest of the world. This doesn't mean that my views on the rest of the world are utterly unreal and romantic, there are a lot of serious problems. So, when I started reading this novel I was all "uh, another leftist western intelligentsia"...

However, as I progressed I saw that Le Guin is not in rosy glasses and she sees the problems (maybe not stressing them enough but that's ok). Like the fact that housing is free but still there are better places to live and people may plot and manipulate to try to get them. Or that 'old guard' in science can be interested in their positions more than in science itself


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