The Left Hand of Darkness
14 journalers for this copy...
Genly Ai is an emissary from the human galaxy to Winter, a lost, stray world. His mission is to bring the planet back into the fold of an evolving galactic civilization, but to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own culture and prejudices and those that he encounters. On a planet where people are of no gender--or both--this is a broad gulf indeed. The inventiveness and delicacy with which Le Guin portrays her alien world are not only unusual and inspiring, they are fundamental to almost all decent science fiction that has been written since. In fact, reading Le Guin again may cause the eye to narrow somewhat disapprovingly at the younger generation: what new ground are they breaking that is not already explored here with greater skill and acumen? It cannot be said, however, that this is a rollicking good story. Le Guin takes a lot of time to explore her characters, the world of her creation, and the philosophical themes that arise.
If there were a canon of classic science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness would be included without debate. Certainly, no science fiction bookshelf may be said to be complete without it. But the real question: is it fun to read? It is science fiction of an earlier time, a time that has not worn particularly well in the genre. The Left Hand of Darkness was a groundbreaking book in 1969, a time when, like the rest of the arts, science fiction was awakening to new dimensions in both society and literature. But the first excursions out of the pulp tradition are sometimes difficult to reread with much enjoyment. Rereading The Left Hand of Darkness, decades after its publication, one feels that those who chose it for the Hugo and Nebula awards were right to do so, for it truly does stand out as one of the great books of that era. It is immensely rich in timeless wisdom and insight.
The Left Hand of Darkness is science fiction for the thinking reader, and should be read attentively in order to properly savor the depth of insight and the subtleties of plot and character. It is one of those pleasures that requires a little investment at the beginning, but pays back tenfold with the joy of raw imagination that resonates through the subsequent 30 years of science fiction storytelling. Not only is the bookshelf incomplete without owning it, so is the reader without having read it.
Some basic rules:
1. Please journal the book when you get it.
2. Try to read the book within 3-4 weeks so others can have a chance to read. (if this presents a problem because of work schedule, etc, let me know and I can change the order of the book so that it comes to you at another time)
3. After journaling the book, send a PM to the next person for their address so that you have it when you're done reading.
4. Any problems/questions, PM me.
Thank you all for participating. I hope you enjoy reading this book.
Order of Bookray:
1. rednumbertwo (Canada, ship International)
2. Chas04 (UK, ship UK)
3. rapturina (Netherlands, ship surface outside Europe)
4. brewski (Canada, ship US, Canada & EU)
5. Rains-Arms (NJ, ship anywhere--asked to be skipped.)
BACK TO ME. <----Back in my possession.
Released 12 yrs ago (3/23/2007 UTC) at
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
I sent this out to rednumbertwo in Canada. I hope you enjoy reading it.
The idea that we discovered things about Winter's culture as Ai did made for a leasurely pace. He kept being surprised at his own assumptions and ignorance, and so did I. A very subtle and smart book.
I have PMed Chas04, and will get this sent off as soon as I can.
I am really glad I was included in this ray!
I am waiting to hear from rapturina. She is in Asia at the moment and may want to be skipped.
The book is in the mail to brewski as of July 18th.
The imagery and the feeling of immersion in Winter''s climate and decidely different social atmosphere made for an entertaining and compelling read. As I read, I felt a sense of discovery as if I was exploring an alien world along with Genly Ai. The found the exploration of prejudice in the novel completely applicable to today''s world.
I will send this along to Rains-Arms once I receive their address. So far, I have not received a response to my PM from a week ago, but I have sent another PM today and will give another week for a response from Rains-Arms before I check with lane1088.
Thanks again to lane1088 for sharing this :)
Taken from lane1088's Sci-Fi bookbox! This has been on my Wishlist of books for a while now! Can't wait to read it!
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
While reading The Left Hand of Darkness, I was disappointed to see, once again, a science fiction story written decades ago have characters that spoke of the two genders in such a separating way. And the writer is female and the story written in the tumultuous 60s. Yes, the story is told from the point of view of a man, but it is set so very far in the future that you would think they could envision the future differently.
The story was really good, except for the aforementioned comment above. A slow burn, but stories written then were of that vein. Anyway, I left the story on a gushy high and that is where the four stars come from instead of much less. After all, a story should make you think and feel. It has done both for me.
A quote from the story that struck me enough to mark it:
Here the Envoy (alien to the world of Winter) asks his traveling companion, an inhabitant of this world, if he hates the neighboring country, Orgoreyn.
Hate Orgoreyn? No, how should I? How does one hate a country, or love one? Tibe talks about it; I lack the trick of it. I know people, I know towns, farms, hills and rivers and rocks, I know how the sun at sunset in autumn falls on the side of a certain plowland in the hills; but what is the sense of giving a boundary to all that, of giving it a name and ceasing to love where the name ceases to apply? What is love of one's country; is it hate of one's uncountry? Then it's not a good thing. Is it simply self-love? That's a good thing, but one mustn't make a virtue of it, or a profession...Insofar as I love life, I love the hills of the Domain of Estre, but that sort of love does not have a boundary-line of hate. And beyond that, I am ignorant, I hope.
Interesting and relevant to the here and now.
I also found the story in Chapter 12 On Time and Darkness rather interesting and enlightening, but I'll leave it for you to discover on your own!
In addition, it's funny how the world works and little things find a way of connecting in your life. Yesterday, I was perusing a list of books someone mentioned as being their all-time favorites. A few were manga, of which I have yet to try. But since this person's favorites list contained some books that I love too, I thought I'd check out the synopsises and possibly try some. One of those is Hiraru no Go which is about a boy who finds a Go board in his grandfather's attic and a spirit that is trapped in the board. Go is a game board played on a grid with stones. Anyway, today I finished reading The Left Hand of Darkness and in Chapter 15, the alien, Genly Ai, teaches Estraven how to play Go. Now I know that I have heard of the game Go, but my mind never latched onto it and so never really saw it and processed it in any way. But here, today, these two occurrences have come together and I find that magical and mystical, wonderful and joyful. It's those moments, ya know?
I think I will keep this in my personal library for a little while. Initially, I thought I would read it and then find someone on the wishlists to send it to. But I feel that I may read it again and so I am not ready to let it go just yet. :)
I'm going to set it to 'permanent collection', for now.
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
1. greenbadger (UK) Ship anywhere
2. bookfrogster (UK) Ship anywhere
3. Cassandra2020 (UK) Ship UK>EU>International
4. CathrineB (Norway) Ship anywhere
5. kizmiaz (Portugal) Europe>overseas is OK
6. VintageVanguard (Germany) Ship anywhere
7. Olivia_Lo (Taiwan) Ship anywhere
8. Basikilos (USA) ship only USA (asked to be skipped)
9. TomHl2 (USA) Ship only USA <--Book is here!
Thank you, to all who participated and made this Ray a success!
"Yin and yang... Light, dark. Fear, courage. Cold, warmth. Female, male... Both and one. A shadow on snow."
I joined this ray before the recent death of Ms Le Guin, which makes this book especially poignant.
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
Thanks also to Spacial for organising. I'll get this read ASAP and on its way.
Signed up for this bookray on the spur of the moment having noticed it soon after the author died. I've never read any of her work before and thought it would be a good place to start. Not quite so sure of that aspect now, but I'm glad I read it.
I like science fiction, but I struggled a little with this one. I found the names and made up language, method of dating etc a bit confusing
Genly Ai is an emissary from the Ekumen to the planet Gethen aka Winter. The Ekumen are a federation of planets and he is there to make first contact and invite them to join. The people of Gethen are androgynous, only when they are in kemmer do they take on the characteristics of one sex or the other and can reproduce. They don't necessarily take the same gender each time, so they could be mother or father from one kemmer to the next.
The planet seems to be split into tribes or city states and he initially makes overtures to one state with the help of a leading citizen/politician Estraven. When the King rebuffs him, exiles Estraven and goes into kemmer and becomes pregnant, Genly Ai decides to take his mission to another state. This is run on less autocratic and more socialist lines but they take against him, deem him a spy and imprison him. It's up to the exiled Estraven to rescue him and they mount a trek through the icy wastelands to escape.
It was strange reading some of this whilst the worst of this winter's snow storms hit!
I felt it chimed with the current Brexit mood about whether you are better going alone or within a federation. It also raised some interesting points about sexuality and friendship. Glad I read it but it was not the easiest of reads.
I found it interesting that the inhabitants switch between gender neutral and male/female. But it seemed wrong to say he (or she) about a person that is gender neutral! Another pronoun would have been better, in my opinion.
Thanks for sending it along CathrineB and thanks for sharing Spatial.
It'll be the next one after the current one.
The plot wasn't all that interesting to me, even the political setup felt a bit strained and I felt the infinite descriptions of the long journey through the ice just dragged the story along instead of giving it a pace.
Overall I felt the pace was too slow and I've somehow missed the point of the whole story.
Still it was a book that I had to read sooner or later and so I'm glad I did.
I'll be sending this along to the next reader soon.
Thank you for organizing this ring, I really enjoyed the book ^^ you can find a more in-depth review here https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2404264171
This novel won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 1970, and solidified LeGuin’s reputation as a major writer in adult science fiction. It takes place in LeGuin’s Hainish universe, in fact on the same planet as her prior short story “Winter’s King.” In the Hainish universe, human populations have long been seeded onto many worlds (including Terra), and are now reconnecting through the explorations of the oldest human world, Hain. The technique of contact is to send a single human envoy to live on the newly discovered world and introduce the population to the Ekumen confederation on their own terms. On Gethen, envoy Genly Ai finds a world of androgynous people who only come into active sexuality once per month, in a sex that manifests spontaneously as either male or female.
This setting is a backdrop for LeGuin to show how biological sexuality has determined so much of our own culture. As an outsider, Genly happens to be male and much of the plot is driven by his misunderstanding of Gethenian politics and of the interpersonal relationships he forms. Not to say that Genly has an exaggerated maleness, but his maleness is purposefully shown to be foundational to everything about his self-concept and perception of others. Reading the novel is excellent opportunity to ponder the pervasive influence of gender.
On this read, two new things struck me. First, since my last read, I have developed a backpacking hobby, and have experienced winter camping on x-c skis. I found the passage over the glacier to be absolutely gripping. Secondly, I paid special attention to the folk tales that LeGuin uses to justify the cultures of Gethen rather than give direct author-to-reader explanation, and to foreshadow the events of the plot. It is intensely interconnected, and just a masterful style.
I am once again giving top recommendations for what remains a favorite of mine.