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Lathe of Heaven (Sf Masterworks 44) by…

Lathe of Heaven (Sf Masterworks 44) (original 1971; edition 2001)

by Ursula K Le Guin

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3,637781,451 (3.99)2 / 195
Title:Lathe of Heaven (Sf Masterworks 44)
Authors:Ursula K Le Guin
Info:Millennium Paperbacks (2001), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, science fiction, dystopia

Work details

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

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    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.
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    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 (74)  French (2)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (78)
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
Entertaining enough, a quick diversion. ( )
  MaureenCean | Feb 2, 2016 |
This is by far my favourite Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel (well, neck and neck with her novella [b:The Word for World is Forest|276767|The Word for World is Forest (Hainish Cycle #6)|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1283091038s/276767.jpg|3256815]). Her most popular science fiction books (thus excluding the classic Earthsea fantasy series) tend to be [b:The Left hand of Darkness|18423|The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle, #4)|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388229638s/18423.jpg|817527] or [b:The Dispossessed|13651|The Dispossessed (Hainish Cycle, #5)|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1353467455s/13651.jpg|2684122], both of these are excellent books but The Lathe of Heaven is the most mind blowing. It is as if she was channeling [a:Philip K. Dick|4764|Philip K. Dick|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1264613853p2/4764.jpg], and according to Wikipedia it is actually her tribute to the late great author.

The Lathe of Heaven is the story of George Orr an insignificant little man who dreams big!. Whenever Orr has an “effective” dream, the dream becomes real (“effective” dream as opposed to normal dreams which he also has). Reality reshapes in accordance with his effective dreams and even changes retroactively to ensure consistency and avoid paradoxes. Orr gives a great example of this during a session with his dastardly psychiatrist William Haber: if he dreams “effectively” of a pink dog when he wakes up there will be a pink dog, but it would not surprise anybody as there will have always been pink dogs in the world, and one has wandered into the room. So it is not a case of a pink dog suddenly popping into existence.

When I read that I had to pause and imagine the implication and it really is one of the most intriguing sci-fi concepts ever. Unfortunately for George Orr and the rest of the world he is manipulated by Haber who turns out to be an egomaniac. With the aid of an “Augmentor” machine of his own invention he is able to indulge his God complex and alter reality the way he sees fit. From that point reality start warping and changing like taffy. It would be a crime for me to elaborate on the numerous changes wrought by Orr’s effective dreams, I really recommend that you find out for yourself.

Le Guin has one advantage over PKD in that she does write better prose, dialog and characterization. Personally I do not have any problems with PKD’s writing style but in term of literary merit I think Le Guin is in a different league. (PKD is the champion in the brilliantly wacky plots department I think). Here is an example:

“And since then Haber had at least been candid with Orr about his manipulations. Though candid was not the right word; Haber was much too complex a person for candor. Layer after layer might peel off the onion and yet nothing be revealed but more onion. That peeling off of one layer was the only real change”

Add her prose prowess to her massive imagination and her legendary status within the SF/F genres is not at all surprising. During the last few chapters Le Guin’s imagination goes into overdrive and I felt totally immersed in her dream like shifting reality. Her characters are always believable and suitably lovable or despicable as the plot requires. Beside Orr and Haber there is another central character called Heather Lelache who is both tough and sympathetic. There are some poignant scenes involving her that I find to be quite moving.

I could go on and on about this book and I will probably read it again one day (this is already a reread). It is one of the all-time greats and if you love science fiction it is not to be missed. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
Full, lenghty review on Weighing A Pig...

I came to this with high expectations, since I loved The Left Hand of Darkness, and I loved all the interviews and talks with Le Guin I’ve read or seen. This short book seems almost universally loved by the reviewing community too, and many people report that there is lots of food for deep thought in it.

For sure Le Guin has a vivid imagination, spelled out in beautiful prose. There’s great lines to be found throughout the 182 pages.


But I’m sad to say The Lathe Of Heaven left me frustrated by its sloppy content. (...)

There is a lot to be said for Acceptance as a way of being, and my beef is not with Taoism. My beef is with a few false dichotomies Le Guin introduces, and a caricatural treatment of utilitarian, pragmatic politics.

(...) ( )
  bormgans | Dec 23, 2015 |
Prizewinner. ( )
  clifforddham | Aug 29, 2015 |
I inhaled this book start to finish. It's one of those cases where I can't believe I haven't read anything by this author before - but I'm glad I did as it was a fantastic read and there's a good chance the author will be added to my must read everything lists.

It's hard to know where to start. The writing was lovely, if you've heard/think Sci-Fi can't be literary (which is not true), than this is book is the one to read. The writing alone was what pulled me in and kept me reading until the end. On top of that, it was an interesting story. I wouldn't say I loved the characters - they weren't the type that would stay with me in the end, but I was rooting for George and it did have a solid cast of characters.

The plot line had so many layers to it, which I enjoyed, although despite this it wasn't hard to keep track of everything. The novel is constantly changing and switching things up, but it adds an interesting element to the book. There's also a lot to gain from the book, it does show what humans are capable of - mainly how greed and power destroy things. The ending was just as good as the rest of the book, I think some readers might be disappointed, but I found it to be a satisfying ending - save the fact I wanted more from the story, it worked out.

Overall, a fantastic book - I'd highly recommend this one - to readers of any genre.

Also found on my book review blog Jules' Book Reviews - The Lathe of Heaven ( )
  bookwormjules | Aug 25, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Le Guin, Ursula K.primary authorall 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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The plot revolves around a character whose dreams alter reality.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060512741, Paperback)

Ursula K. Le Guin is one of science fiction's greatest writers. She is also an acclaimed author of powerful and perceptive nonfiction, fantasy, and literary fiction. She has received many honors, including six Nebula and five Hugo Awards, the National Book Award, the Pushcart Prize, the Newbery, the Pilgrim, the Tiptree, and citations by the American Library Association. She has written over a dozen highly regarded novels and story collections. Her SF masterworks are The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), The Dispossessed (1974), and The Lathe of Heaven (1971).

George Orr has dreams that come true--dreams that change reality. He dreams that the aunt who is sexually harassing him is killed in a car crash, and wakes to find that she died in a wreck six weeks ago, in another part of the country. But a far darker dream drives George into the care of a psychotherapist--a dream researcher who doesn't share George's ambivalence about altering reality.

The Lathe of Heaven is set in the sort of worlds that one would associate with Philip K. Dick, but Ms. Le Guin's treatment of the material, her plot and characterization and concerns, are more akin to the humanistic, ethically engaged, psychologically nuanced fiction of Theodore Sturgeon. The Lathe of Heaven is an insightful and chilling examination of total power, of war and injustice and other age-old problems, of changing the world, of playing God. --Cynthia Ward

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:33 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"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)

(summary from another edition)

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