RIP Ursula Le Guin
- Author: Ursula Le Guin
- Title: The Left Hand of Darkness
- Published: 1969
- Genre: SF novel
- Trivia: List of Challenges 2018
Place: planet Gethen is also called ‘Winter” (experiencing an ice age.)…in country of Karhide.
- Genly Ai:
- Young man from Terra, or Earth who has been in Karhide for 2 years.
- He is an envoy from the Ekumen organization of more than eighty worlds.
- He must convince the Gethenias to join
- …the alliance to improve trade and communication.
- King Argavan XV:
- King in the country of Karhide (planet Gethen) who is
- reluctant to acknowledge Genly Ai.
- Argavan does not want to discuss his diplomatic mission because
- admitting the existence of beings who have mastered travel and communications
- would diminish the king’s importance.
- Ai is indebted to Estraven (PM in Karhide) for having arranged an audience with the king.
- Estraven as being cold and aloof, and Ai feels that, as Prime Minister, he should
- have done more to make the audience go more smoothly.
Important part of the narrative:
- The citizens of Karhide are androgynes.
- People are neither “he” nor “she” until they enter kemmer, a state of fertility,
- lasting a few days a month, analogous to a woman’s cycle.
- Then, depending on the chemistry between partners….
- one will develop as a male, the other as a female.
- The same person can be a child-bearing mother to some children
- …and a father to others.
- No wonder Ai is confused…as I was.
- This book is considered a SF classic
- Le Guin was one of the first female writers who
- questioned gender roles in SF.
- The book combines political complexity and
- …groundbreaking approach to gender:
- people in society had no gender
- ….or both genders!
- The book was good.
- …but I found Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven and
- her novella Vaster Than Empires and More Slow.…better.
- It’s just my personal preference.
- The Left had of Darkness is well worth your reading time.
- It was awarded the Nebula Award AND the Hugo Award in 1970