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The lathe of heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin

The lathe of heaven (original 1971; edition 1971)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,0461461,537 (4)2 / 267
"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)
Title:The lathe of heaven
Authors:Ursula K. Le Guin
Info:New York, Scribner [1971]
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin (1971)

  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 (139)  French (2)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (145)
Showing 1-5 of 139 (next | show all)
The premise of the book is the appearance in a near-dystopian future of a man whose dreams can alter reality, retroactively, even on a dramatic scale. Being a decent man, he is crushed by the responsibility, and has to seek help with a good but ambitious psychologist.

Ethics, responsibility and dream are at the centre of this book, which reminds me of Zelazny's *The Dream Master*, published five years earlier. In my eyes, it shows that Le Guinn can write a story on this kind of conceptual premise as well as the grand masters of the genre, Zelazny being a case in point. Of course, she adds her personal touch, with more complex, human, ambiguous characters than is usual is the SciFi genre. Another distinctive trait in my opinion is the way she closes the story, neither with a complete obliteration, nor with a Tolkien-like eucatastrophe.

Though I really liked the book, I found that the aliens addition was neither really necessary to the plot, nor a very successful attempt in the genre. The idea of physiologically very different aliens settling on Earth as managers and traders strikes me as odd, especially when communication with them appears to be a constant challenge.

On the whole, a good and enjoyable read, but not her best work in my opinion. ( )
  MathieuPerona | Sep 26, 2020 |
The Lathe of Heaven is a delicious dive into the writing of Ursula K. Le Guin. I found the book to be challenging to get into because of the shifting world that Le Guin crafts. The reader is made to be unsure of their footing just as they get a grasp of each new world George Orr dreams up. However, as I read I was so deeply impressed by how fully Le Guin fleshed out each world even when they only lasted a couple chapters. I found George Orr to be a compelling character because of his perfect inaction. He is not a hero but a contrast to the hero mindset of Haber. A foil to the capitalist idea that we must always be producing a striving to improve the world no matter the means.

I found the romantic relationship between George and Heather Lelache deeply moving. A testament to the importance of intimate relationships, platonic and romantic, in our ever changing world. The fact that Heather keeps coming back into Orr's world emphasized the anchor that these relationships create.

Reading this book amidst horrific wild fire destruction in Oregon and the pandemic added extra weight to the content. I found George Orr's go with the flow attitude resonates with the attitude I am attempting to embody of accepting what I cannot change in this moment and changing what I can. ( )
  Mrh2 | Sep 22, 2020 |
Excellent, but I don't think Ursula Le Guin books can be anything less. However, we do dream in non-REM sleep
  abstroyer | Sep 13, 2020 |
Awkwardly shows its age in gender and race, but despite that this comes through really well. I'm really surprised this was written in 1971. Quite impressive sci-fi and a really good story over all. ( )
  jzacsh | Sep 9, 2020 |
This is a strange book, and one that I think would have been better (particular in terms of gender) if it had been written later in Le Guin's career.

Reading a book set in the future when it was written, but in a time that is now the past, is a fascinating experience, particularly seeing what predictions Le Guin landed more or less correctly and where she was notably wrong. (Primarily, things aren't as bad as she predicted . . . yet.) ( )
  elenaj | Jul 31, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 139 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (60 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
Valla, RiccardoTranslatorsecondary 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.
He never spoke with any bitterness at all, no matter how awful the things he said. Are there really people without resentment, without hate, she wondered. People who never go cross-grained to the universe? Who recognize evil, and resist evil, and yet are utterly unaffected by it? 
Of course there are. Countless, the living and the dead. Those who have returned in pure compassion to the wheel, those who follow the way that cannot be followed without knowing they follow it, the sharecropper's wife in Alabama and the lama in Tibet and the entomologist in Peru and the millworker in Odessa and the greengrocer in London and the goatherd in Nigeria and the old, old man sharpening a stick by a dry streambed somewhere in Australia, and all the others. There is not one of us who has not known them. There are enough of them, enough to keep us going. Perhaps.
A person who believes, as she did, that things fit: that there is a whole of which one is a part, and that in being a part one is whole: such a person has no desire whatever, at any time, to play God. Only those who have denied their being yearn to play at it.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

"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.

No library descriptions found.

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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