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The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Dispossessed (1974)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Hainish Cycle (5), Hainish Cycle, Chronological (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,998125696 (4.15)1 / 376
  1. 40
    The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (Algybama)
  2. 31
    His Master's Voice by Stanisław Lem (TMrozewski)
    TMrozewski: Both deal with the social and cultural roots of science.
  3. 10
    Rocannon's World by Ursula K. Le Guin (andomck)
    andomck: Both are books in the Hainish Cycle.
  4. 10
    Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy (sturlington)
  5. 11
    Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock (andomck)
    andomck: Brooding,introspective sci fi/fantasy
  6. 00
    Doctor Mirabilis by James Blish (jpers36)
    jpers36: Life story of a genius physicist destined to revolutionize a stagnant culture with his radical scientific insights.
  7. 00
    Distress by Greg Egan (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: These books share isolated anarchist communities and discoveries in physics that change everything.
  8. 45
    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: A different moon, a different anti-authoritarian community, but the same experience of thinking about other ways to run human societies
  9. 02
    The Necessary Beggar by Susan Palwick (MyriadBooks)
  10. 24
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (LamontCranston)
  11. 217
    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (lauranav)
1970s (61)
Unread books (1,063)

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English (121)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Turkish (1)  All languages (125)
Showing 1-5 of 121 (next | show all)
Le Guin's father was an anthropologist, and in this book we see that influence. Together with her _Left Hand of Darkness_, this is one of science fiction's great novels of ideas. If you prefer space opera, read something else. Presenting a challenge to the reader is the non-linear plot development, but this can be said to also add to its charm. Furthers the belief that what we can do is more valuable than what we possess, and that language shapes thinking. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin
The dispossessed is a book that is hard for me to describe well. It is a story that takes place in two locations: Urras (probably similar to earth) and Anarres, Urras’ arid moon. Anarres was settled by a group of anarchists who left or were kicked out of Urras (a planet with remarkable similarities to U.S.). There are no laws, no property, & no government. The society’s ideals are based on communal sharing, voluntary contributions, and brotherhood. The story is told from two intersecting time points centering around protagonist, Shevek who is a physicist from Anarres. The plot’s central time point is Shevek’s trip to Urras. The chapters alternate between Shevek’s pre-journey history (e.g., the events leading up to the trip) and what happens to him after leaving Anarres.

I really enjoyed this book. After recently reading Stranger in a Strange land, I think I appreciated this book much more. There is a LOT of political commentary in this book but it was much more palatable (for me) than the religious/cultish commentary of Heilein’s book. Clearly the author has some strong opinions and she packs a lot into this book. She covers themes of anarchy, capitalism, gender roles, power, hypocrisy, sacrifice, and much more. I found it interesting that the utopia created is clearly flawed and she creates brilliant tension between the ideal and how it can become warped when attempted in reality. I liked her portrayal of gender roles and I enjoyed thinking about the political commentary underlying the story.

“Like all walls it was ambiguous, two-faced. What was inside it and what was outside it depended on w
( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
The Dispossessed Ursula le Guin
The Dispossessed on the surface is a story about one mans struggle to change the universe through science and the theory of time, underneath this it is a in depth look at the types of society humans choose to live within and the flaws and good points of each.
Shevek is from Annares an almost barren moon that has been colonised by a group of rebels from the planet Urras. On Annares there are no personal possessions everything is shared by the community, names are issued as random 5 or 6 letters from a computer, work is assigned to men and women according to skill and ability and nothing else and the worst jobs are rotated so that no one can consider themselves any better than anyone else. While this might sound ideal it leads to families being split up and children raised in nurseries rather than being raised by their own parents and any pursuit that is not considered good for the whole planet is frowned upon, so while the people consider themselves free they have also effectively restrained themselves.
Shevek leaves Annares to work on Urras as his scientific pursuits are suppressed on Annares he wants to communicate with the other planets and share science for the benefit of the entire human race but Annares wants to remain isolated. Urras is a capitalist society with all the negatives that implies the have and haves not the inequality between the classes and the traditional roles assigned to the sexes. While he is encouraged to pursue his research on Urras he soon comes to realist that even if he succeeds in his breakthrough the Urras government will not share it as he hoped they will, this leads him to joining a rebellion so he can give his research to everyone or no one.
Written in the 70's this is an interesting study of the politics and popular movements of the time, Le Guin walks a fine line and manages in my view not to promote one lifestyle choice above another. ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
An aunt gave me this when I was fifteen, seeing how I was getting into SF. That was kind of her but I don’t know what she was thinking, I couldn't possibly get into this book at that age. In fact I gave up after about 50 pages. However, this is one of those books that won’t go away. I keep getting recommendations to read it from web sites, forums and “all time best sf books” listings. So I eventually got around to it.

Skipping the synopsis completely as I don’t like to write them, this is a difficult book for me to read as it is very intelligent and require considerable intelligence from the reader, possibly a bit more than I possess! Some paragraphs where Le Guin is exploring political or philosophical ideas are barely readable because they go right over my head. Also, though the book is not that long it is not a quick read. I tried to read it fast to be done with it had to put the brakes on and rewind, otherwise there would be no point in reading it at all. The book demands patience and concentration.
At the end of the day this is a worthwhile read because it gave me something to think about, anarchism, our society, the way we live, tolerance, complacency, self righteousness etc. However, IMO this is not a book to read for enjoyment. Le Guin's "Left Hand of Darkness" is much more enjoyable as sf, while being equally serious. If you want to read Le Guin for entertainment her Earthsea Trilogy would work best. If you want cool tech and aliens this novel is also not for you. However, if you want something that makes you feel all contemplative this fits the bill very well. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
The 1975 sci fi classic. Great SciFi, but slightly dated political philosophy.
Read in Samoa Mar 2003 ( )
  mbmackay | Nov 27, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 121 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ursula K. Le Guinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ducak, DaniloCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ebel, AlexCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nyytäjä, KaleviTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pagetti, CarloForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, AnthonyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valla, RiccardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winkowski, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
There was a wall.
You shall not go down twice to the same river, nor can you go home again. That he knew; indeed it was the basis of his view of the world. Yet from that acceptance of transience he evolved his vast theory, wherein what is most changeable is shown to be fullest of eternity, and your relationship to the river, and the river's relationship to you and to itself, turns out to be at once more complex and more reassuring than a mere lack of identity. You can go home again, the General Temporal Theory asserts, so long as you understand that home is a place where you have never been.
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The protagonist Shevek is a physicist attempting to develop a General Temporal Theory. Anarres is in theory a society without government or coercive authoritarian institutions. Yet in pursuing research that deviates from his society's current consensus understanding, Shevek begins to come up against very real obstacles. Shevek gradually develops an understanding that the revolution which brought his world into being is stagnating, and power structures are beginning to exist where there were none before. He therefore embarks on the risky journey to the original planet, Urras, seeking to open dialog between the worlds and to spread his theories freely outside of Anarres. The novel details his struggles on both Urras and his homeworld of Anarres.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061054887, Mass Market Paperback)

Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. he will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life. Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian mother planet, Anarres, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:08 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Shevek, a brilliant physicist attempts to reunite two planets cut off from each other by centuries of distrust.

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