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The Left Hand of Darkness

Le Guin, Ursula K.

(Book - 2010)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Left Hand of Darkness
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Le Guin's Hainish series begins with the assumption that centuries ago humanoids from the planet Hain ventured through the solar system establishing colonies on various planets including Earth. For mysterious reasons these colonies lose all contact and knowledge of each other until the 21st century when an attempt is made to establish a galactic league. Individual stories in this loosely organized series explore the inherent communication difficulties in the mingling and clash of cultures that, over the centuries of separation, have developed widely disparate social and political structures as well as a range of biological differences.
Publisher: New York : Ace Books, 2010
Edition: Ace premium ed
ISBN: 9780441478125
0441478123
Branch Call Number: SF LEGUIN 2013
Characteristics: xix, 330 p. ;,19 cm

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From Library Staff

A human envoy to the world of Winter (a planet whose hermaphroditic people, when motivated, switch sex) is caught up in a Cold War-esque political drama between two powerful nations.

Individual stories in this loosely organized series explore the inherent communication difficulties in the mingling and clash of cultures that, over the centuries of separation, have developed widely disparate social and political structures as well as a range of biological differences.

Le Guin's Hainish series begins with the assumption that centuries ago humanoids from the planet Hain ventured through the solar system establishing colonies on various planets including Earth. For mysterious reasons these colonies lose all contact and knowledge of each other until the 21st centu... Read More »

A lone human makes a one way journey to the bleak world of Winter, whose people are hermaphroditic, to ask then to join galactic civilization. First published in 1969.

A classic science fiction novel that won both the Nebula and the Hugo awards. LeGuin writes of the bleak world of Winter, whose people are hermaphroditic.


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Nov 13, 2014
  • SFPL_COB_TG rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is my favorite book. Ursula Le Guin creates realistic fully realized worlds and characters with great depth. This is about a world on the brink of discovering how to turn an argument into a war. It explores patriotism, love, what sexual identity means, friendship and much more. My favorite quote comes from this novel - "It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end." Great book!

Nov 03, 2014
  • TeenLibrarianBookReviews rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

The Left Hand Of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
Read by: Anna/Boston Public Library
Originally posted to the Teen Blog on 2/2/2013.

This is the story of Genry Ai, a man on a mission from his home planet as an Envoy to a distant place known as Winter, in order to include the cold planet in a growing intergalactic civilization. Genry is not used to such a cold climate, where temperatures are often below zero, or people whose gender is androgynous but for once a month. It takes a lot of getting used to. Never-the-less, he does his best to understand and comprehend the world around him. When it seems all is going as planed for Genry, things come crashing down around him. His only “friend” is named a traitor by the king and must flee. Genry Ai visits a neighboring country in hopes that he can persuede them to open the doors of trading with other planets, and thus, bring the other countries with them. But these people have other plans for him. When an unlikely hero arrives to save his life, the two begin a long, harrowing, and solitary journey through ice and snow to keep them both safe and alive. Along the way, they learn what it means to have a friend, to be a friend, to give up one’s life for a cause, and most of all, what it means to be human, even when humanness is different.

I originally picked this book up because I was interested in the androgynous gender of the people who live on Winter. I like to see how different authors write such characters. But upon starting the book, I began to doubt whether I would actually like the book or not, despite several friends raving over it. This book starts off very slow. It doesn’t kick into “high” gear until about half way through the book. And that’s high gear for a slow pace on an ice covered mountain. However, that being said, I highly recommend this book. Yes, it starts slow, but when you get to the end, you’ll realize just how much every page is worth it. LeGuin doesn’t go into great detail about the sexual practices on Winter, but she gives you enough ideas to paint yourself a rough picture. If you like cold temperatures, perhaps you like to go skiing, and perfer to spend time in climates where you can easily catch frost bite, then this is a book for you. You’ll feel the snow and ice deep down in your bones as you read. But there’s a warmth that will grow there, the further along you read. Ironically, as the winter weather piles on higher and higher, the inner warmth of friendship will bloom to keep you going until the very end. This is a very thought-provoking book. Originally written in 1969, this book is just as relevant today, as it was back then. Warning: Tissues might be required near the end.

Jun 06, 2014
  • Eosos rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Like all my favorite science fiction, this book is written with a thought provoking idea.
The planet Winter has been sent a lone emissary from the intergalactic civilization to bring them into this organization. Winter is an unusual world of androgynous people and the emissary has a difficult time understanding this or their complex political and cultural rules.
I liked the ideas of a persons sex not making any difference to how they live their lives. I never could think of any of them other than men who could have babies though. The descriptions of snow and ice were wonderfully done and the writing was beautiful. This is definitely a author to read more of.

Jan 19, 2012
  • carofrechette rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

One of my top three favorite books, all categories mixed. A great reflexion on life, society, environment, gender, love, friendship and relationships in general. A must-read!

Nov 30, 2010
  • neonchameleon rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is an excellent book that, as other have said, explores concepts of gender and family. Howevre, more subtly it also explores different types of political systems.

Feb 09, 2010
  • neko rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Le Guin's exploration of gender and the social rules that glue a society together.

Nov 21, 2009
  • neko rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

An exploration of gender, relationships, and family roles that is a delight to read.

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Nov 03, 2014
  • TeenLibrarianBookReviews rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

TeenLibrarianBookReviews thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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app09 Version gurli Last updated 2014/12/09 10:52