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The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
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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
6,312131626 (4.14)1 / 387
  1. 50
    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. 20
    Rocannon's World by Ursula K. Le Guin (andomck)
    andomck: Both are books in the Hainish Cycle.
  4. 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.
  5. 11
    Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock (andomck)
    andomck: Brooding,introspective sci fi/fantasy
  6. 00
    Island by Aldous Huxley (themulhern)
    themulhern: Two utopian books. The advantage of LeGuin's is that it doesn't have anything worth exploiting and it is a rocket flight away.
  7. 00
    Distress by Greg Egan (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: These books share isolated anarchist communities and discoveries in physics that change everything.
  8. 55
    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. 12
    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 (69)
Unread books (1,011)
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English (127)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Turkish (1)  English (131)
Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)
awesome anarchist utopia/dystopia novel. One of my favorite sci-fi books ever. ( )
  Gordon.Edgar | Nov 29, 2016 |
When people ask me why I read Science Fiction my answer is one word: Ideas. As a genre, SF is, more than anything, about ideas. In The Dispossesed, Ursula K LeGuin tackles one of the biggest ideas - what would an anarchist society be like?

She sets the story of Shevek, most brilliant physicist of his age, in such a society, based on the tough, arid world of Annares, a moon orbiting the planet Urras.

Urras is an allegory of Earth. Here is a world with two conflicting superpowers ( A-Io, an uber-capitalist society of vast riches and disaffected poor; Thu, a totalitarian socialist state) as well as numerous smaller countries like Benbili, military dictatorships such as have been found in South America and Africa.

The original Settlers of Annares, who call themselves Odonians after their inspirational leader, Odo, left A-Io 160 years before the time of this story and founded and anarchist society based on mutual aid. No laws, no central government, no profit, no wages, no money. It is a brave vision of one kind of Utopia.

Yet Le Guin does not present it as a perfect society. By contrasting Shevek's sojourn on Urras with the story of his life on Annares, she shows the warts on both societies. Annares is not perfect because human beings are flawed. Petty jealousies and a drift towards bureaucracy threaten the anarchist dream. Yet the poor of Urras look upon it as a beacon of hope. That a place exists where mankind can live in peace and brotherhood, working for the good of society as a whole, not just their own gain.

Shevek is a complex character. He is not a natural leader. He merely wants his work, his theories, to be available to all - not just Urras and Annares, but all the known worlds and races. A-Io simply see his work as a means to help them gain an advantage over their neighbours. War and profit are all they see.

His fight against the inertia of his own society and his submersion in the capitalist nightmare of A-Io is ultimately quite moving. What he has to leave behind, what he must risk for what he believes in, these are not easy choices. But he is seeking the truth, his truth, and to share that Truth with the universe involves sacrifice.

So, why do I read Science Fiction? Because of books like this. Books filled with beautiful, flawed humanity. And ideas. ( )
  David.Manns | Nov 28, 2016 |
The Dispossessed is a famous book: it won the Hugo, the Nebula and the Locus awards, and it tackles a tricky subject: politics. It is set in the Hainish universe, on two twin planets. On Anaress, a group of dissidents founded an anarchist syndicalist society that has been going for about 2 centuries when the book starts. The other planet, Urras, has three states, of which the most important ones are modeled on the USA and the Soviet Union.

The book follows Shevek, a brilliant physicist from Anaress who, in a gesture of dissent, travels to Urras, hoping to be able to finish his revolutionary theory about time there.

Theodore Sturgeon praised The Dispossessed, saying “it performs one of [science fiction’s] prime functions, which is to create another kind of social system to see how it would work. Or if it would work.” I don’t fully agree, as I didn’t feel I was transported to another world: the cold war politics alert sign was constantly flashing.

That is my main problem with the novel: it is so obvious, and so obviously about Earth, I always felt Le Guin’s intentions, instead of feeling a story. It is no secret Le Guin has leftist sympathies, and also in this book it is clear where her heart lies: sure, Anaress has its problems, but it is liberal about sex, it is pro-gay, feminist, and people don’t eat meat. There are only two big problems on the planet: it’s arid and doesn’t easily grow food; and the anarchy syndicalist system of the Odonian society slowly evolved into a bureaucracy, with stagnating power structures popping up.

The fact that this book is praised so much seems to me the result of a couple of things, that at the same time explain why The Dispossessed didn’t fully work for me.

(...)

Please read the full review on Weighing A Pig ( )
1 vote bormgans | Jun 29, 2016 |
I just couldn't appreciate this the way so many others do.

The way the story is told in the past, so we learn things as they're revealed rather than as the characters are experiencing them, provides a disconnect. Perhaps it is meant to serve to point out the universality of the themes - but I found that it made me feel distanced, as if none of the story mattered.

I suppose if I were younger and still interested in political ideas and revolutions, if I hadn't read, and lived through, lots of other exposures to ideas like these, I'd find it more interesting.

And if I were more naive I wouldn't be so ready to quibble over the arguments - such as the presentation of the upper classes of Urras being so very self-absorbed and without conscience. Ok, so Le Guin is no [a:Sinclair Lewis|7330|Sinclair Lewis|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1205204856p2/7330.jpg] or [a:Upton Sinclair|23510|Upton Sinclair|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1185924176p2/23510.jpg], but does Urras have no Jane Addams or Margaret Sanger? Ok, perhaps one of Le Guin's themes, that of male dominance, is meant to reveal that Urras first needs a Carrie Chapman Catt. But thinking about that begs me to ask - in 1400 years of Urrasti there has been none?

I suppose, too, if I'd read it when it was first written, when it was ground-breaking and influential, it would have made more of an impression on me.

I do not see 'science fiction' here at all, really. I see something I'd call 'speculative literature.' It's got that highbrow vibe and almost no actual doings of science. I much prefer my sf to make its points with some joy, or fun, or adventure, or even humor thrown in. Think [a:Asimov Isaac|16667|Isaac Asimov|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1286862859p2/16667.jpg]'s Robot Stories or [a:Robert Heinlein|205|Robert A. Heinlein|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1192826560p2/205.jpg] or [a:Charles Sheffield|32276|Charles Sheffield|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1276323505p2/32276.jpg].

I felt as if Le Guin wanted to teach me something, even preach at me a bit. But even lecturers can present their ideas more engagingly than this. It finally got interesting as the two pasts converged to the present - but the book unfortunately ended just as it was about to start being a narrative into which I could sink my teeth. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Just finished this after taking too long to read mainly because I had to force myself to finish it.
I found it rather boring.
At first it was her writing style- seemed to be abrupt to me, didn't flow, but that got better as story moved along. Later it was just the story itself that seemed to drag on.
I chose this book because it had won so many awards and was looking for a good SciFi read along lines of Rama series, Hyperion etc. This was certainly not even close. Others have said/ liked her Earthsea series but now am leary of any of her writings.
I am amazed this won so many awards and is considered a "classic" novel of science fiction. ( )
  KarenHerndon | Jun 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ursula K. Le Guinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Craft, KinukoCover artistsecondary authorsome 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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There was a wall.
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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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Book description
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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