Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Left Hand of Darkness

I know that you, my adoring public, are all wondering how I did on the radio.  I did fine.  The interviewer is amazingly good at what she does, and we had some nice conversation.  I'll post the link when it airs in a couple of weeks, though it turned out to be about librarianing, not blogging.  No matter, it was all about books. :)

And now let us get down to some business!  For Vintage SF Month, I read The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin.  I found it sitting on a random bookshelf; I was unaware that I owned it, but obviously at some point I meant to read it.  I never got into LeGuin when I was younger, though just about all my other favorite fantasy/SF writers talked about her a lot.  I've only read one other of her books.  So probably everyone else has read this but me...

Genly Ai is an Envoy, an ambassador to the planet of Gethen from the rest of the galaxy.  The Ekumen, a multi-planet association to encourage trade and ideas, invites new planets to join if they wish, and Mr. Ai's job is to explain and invite.  It's not easy for a single person to convince a skeptical planet.  Genly starts in the chaotic Karhide (ruled
by a mad king!), and eventually travels to the regimented Orgoreyn.  There's a lot of politics, and a massive survival trek too.  Much of the fun lies in cultural exploration and the fact that (possibly due to some long-ago genetic experiment) the Gethenians are mostly unisexual, becoming male and female only at certain times.  Genly spends a good deal of time meditating upon what this means for their cultures, and also feeling very alone.

A neat read.  Also a standard SF classic.


2 comments:

Kristen M. said...

LeGuin is definitely a big gap in my SF reading too. I'll have to pick this up at some point!

STUART FLYNN said...

Definitely a classic!