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The Lathe of Heaven
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July 2018: Dystopian > The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin - 5 stars

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message 1: by Joy D (last edited Jul 05, 2018 08:21PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joy D | 4611 comments The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin - 5 stars

Science fiction about a man, George Orr, whose “effective” dreams change the world’s reality. Published in 1971, it is set in Portland, Oregon, near the beginning of the 21st century. George has been taking drugs to suppress these dreams and has been sent to a Voluntary Treatment Program. George retains memories of prior “worlds” created by his dreams but there are only a few others that have this ability. Dr. Haber, a dream researcher, is one of them. He takes George as a patient and begins treatment using a machine he has invented. George believes Dr. Haber is trying to help him, and the doctor has good intentions, but his attempt to control George’s dreams leads to catastrophic results.

The concepts in this book take precedence over characters or plot. They show how different philosophies of life manifest in behavior, and ultimately, impact the quality of an individual’s life. George exhibits a passive philosophy of non-interference, and a desire to do no harm with his dreams. He feels extreme guilt when his dreams cause havoc. Dr. Haber, on the other hand, is into power and control. His vanity, and ambition lead him to try to “right the wrongs” of society. He views George as “a means to an end,” is egotistical enough to think he knows what needs to be done, and believes he can control the outcome, so in essence he is “playing God.” Debating the ideas set forth in this novel, especially the tension between dominance and passivity, could lead to some very interesting book club discussions.

I found the premise brilliantly conceived and extremely creative. LeGuin’s prose is magnificent, and enough science is included to make this fictional world seem plausible, or at least logical within the construct. I will be adding more of LeGuin’s works to my reading list.

I found it extremely clever, quite entertaining, and thought-provoking, so if you enjoy science fiction, I highly recommend it.

Link to my review:

message 2: by Idit (new)

Idit | 1028 comments Great review.
I’m not a total fan of her (less so after she was so bitter about fan fiction), but she is good, my husband loves her, and I’m very tempted to give it a try after reading your thoughts

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments I read this one several years ago and I liked most of it. But, she lost me a bit with the (view spoiler).

message 4: by Jgrace (new) - added it

Jgrace | 3106 comments I always think I've read this one. Then I look at the summary and I realize that I read The Left Hand of Darkness. I need to get to this one.

Great review. Thanks.

Joy D | 4611 comments Thanks, everyone. It's hard for me to believe, but I have never read anything by LeGuin before. I'll definitely be reading more of her work.

message 6: by annapi (last edited Jul 06, 2018 11:35AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

annapi | 5155 comments I think I tried this long ago in my teens, after I read her Earthsea trilogy (which I loved). Could not get into this and dropped it. I will have to try again now that I'm an adult with more experience and more books under my belt, and see if that changes anything.

message 7: by anarresa (new) - added it

anarresa | 287 comments I love LeGuin, I recommend her to everyone, usually Left Hand of Darkness as the most popular and accessible start. Earthsea for the youth, definitely. My username came from one of the planets in The Dispossessed, my favorite.

Joy D | 4611 comments Very cool, anarresa! I can't believe I hadn't read anything from her before now! I have the Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed on my TBR list.

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