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The Lathe of Heaven (1971)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,9111411,536 (4)2 / 262
"In a future world racked by violence and environmental catastrophes, George Orr wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist who immediately grasps the power George wields. Soon George must preserve reality itself as Dr. Haber becomes adept at manipulating George's dreams for his own purposes."--Publisher description.… (more)
  1. 20
    Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem (ahstrick)
  2. 10
    The Dream Master by Roger Zelazny (paradoxosalpha)
    paradoxosalpha: Science fiction about the technological control of sleeping dreams. They're just dreams, right? What could go wrong?
  3. 33
    Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny (storyjunkie)
    storyjunkie: Both books carry a philosophical weight to their world-saving. A similar atmosphere to their protagonists, worlds, and occupancy of a more soul-searching lot in the science fiction spectrum make them nicely complementary to each other.
  4. 00
    The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You by Dorothy Bryant (sturlington)
    sturlington: Alternate realities accessed through dreams.
  5. 03
    The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (The_Kat_Cache)
    The_Kat_Cache: The Lathe of Heaven is chock-full of Taoist principles. This book elaborates on the philosophy in an easily accessible manner.

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English (132)  French (2)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (138)
Showing 1-5 of 132 (next | show all)
A must-read for anyone who enjoys a good story focused on the subjective nature of reality, which I certainly do. The only reason I'm rating it as "liked it" instead of "really liked it" is the second half doesn't quite pull its weight (not that the conclusion was completely dissatisfying or anything) and my ratings heavily favor a strong ending.

Regarding the context of the ideas that are played with in this book, I immediately thought of Steins;Gate, though the tone and underlying plot machinations completely diverge from that one point of commonality. But both share the circumstance of a single person given power they do not want, struggling with memories no one else remembers as they do their best to make things right despite the world (or the subconscious) apparently skewing itself towards chaos. ( )
  Garden. | Jun 1, 2020 |
I've shelved this as science fiction, but what struck me as I was reading it is that it really comes across as a psychological horror. The protagonist, George Orr, has an ability that he considers a horrible curse: when he dreams, sometimes, he wakes up to find the dream has come true. Having got in legal trouble for misappropriating/misusing dream suppressants, he is sent to a psychiatrist, Dr Haber, who sees this ability as an enormous boon. He uses hypnotherapy to put George under and instruct him to dream all manner of things – which, then, become reality.

The novel examines all kind of dystopian and apocalyptic scenarios: war against extraterrestrials, a pandemic that kills most of the world's population, volcanic eruptions, and above all a recurring theme of heavy-handed state control over people's lives (and life and death itself). And it does all this with a tone reminiscent of that kind of nightmare where you're dreaming horrible stuff, and you think you wake up, but then realise you're still trapped in the nightmare. Dr Haber represents a brilliant villain, outwardly effusively charming but coercively keeping George under his control. And, of course, like many a classic villain he has grandiose, noble ambitions – world peace! an end to overpopulation! full health for all! – but no real qualms about the sinister ways he would achieve them.

Overall, a really good, dark little book, especially for those who enjoy the theme of creepy nightmares. ( )
  Jayeless | May 27, 2020 |
DNF @37%

I could not like this book enough to pick it up. I don't have to like all the books I read, but I need to like enough about them to, you know, ACTUALLY READ THEM. I started with the audiobook. Nothing against the narrator, but he couldn't interest me in the characters. Then I got the paper book from the library and tried it. Still didn't like the characters. Everybody and everything was too bland for me to care one way or the other what happened, so I decided to not waste my time of continuing. ( )
  ca.bookwyrm | May 18, 2020 |
I can't pretend I understood this book. But it moved something inside me. And the writing was beautiful. ( )
  lightkensei | May 17, 2020 |
There are some amazing things in this book, and I valued them more in this read than I did decades ago when I first encountered it. But I still didn't really find it absorbing or enjoyable. Her use of language when Dr Haber is first introduces is like a spiked washing board giving vivid warning of his propensity for damage. ( )
  quondame | May 12, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 132 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (61 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Le Guin, Ursula K.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeogeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Körber, JoachimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moll, CharlesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sappinen, Jorma-VeikkoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Confucius and you are both dreams, and I who say you are dreams am in a dream myself. This is a paradox. Tomorrow a wise man may explain it; that tomorrow will not be for ten thousand generations. — Chuang Tse: II
First words
Current-borne, wave-flung, tugged hugely by the whole might of ocean, the jellyfish drifts in the tidal abyss.
'Hello,' he said again.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

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Book description
The plot revolves around a character whose dreams alter reality.
Haiku summary
His dreams are made real
for all time, for all places.
Please don't dream of death.

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