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The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le…
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The Left Hand of Darkness (original 1972; edition 1976)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

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11,365276365 (4.05)715
While on a mission to the planet Gethen, earthling Genly Ai is sent by leaders of the nation of Orgoreyn to a concentration camp from which the exiled prime minister of the nation of Karhide tries to rescue him.
Member:jjmcgaffey
Title:The Left Hand of Darkness
Authors:Ursula K. Le Guin
Info:Ace Books (1976), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library, Boxed, Working on, BOMBs
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Tags:Fic, SF, !Sale:FOAFL, _BB_SFBoxes, __scanned, _BB_SF_08

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The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (1972)

Recently added byTristanGregorySmith, ETForm, private library, tomonymous, DSchmitt, JennyNau10
  1. 70
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» See also 715 mentions

English (268)  Spanish (2)  Catalan (1)  Romanian (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (275)
Showing 1-5 of 268 (next | show all)
How does a human male connect with the population of a planet where the male/female divide doesn't exist? As solitary ambassador for a planetary alliance, Genly Ai's mission is to convince the cultures on Gethen to join. They are human, but they are a very different human, with motivations and cultures that baffle Genly Ai. A great story about connecting with "other." ( )
  Zaiga | Sep 23, 2019 |
An absolute delight! As a thought experiment about different ways gender might work, this is already an excellent, compelling book, but its genius is that it's also a compelling story, a great exploration of how people react to the unfamiliar, and an exposition of Le Guin's daoism, and a critique of nationalism. Somehow she managed to cram all of those things into one not especially long book and make it work well as all of them together.

I'm very late to discovering how great Le Guin was--this is the first non-YA novel I've read by her--and wishing I'd started much earlier. ( )
  eldang | Sep 18, 2019 |
It surprised me that the sociopolitical theme in this book was as strong as the topic of gender. Like The Dispossessed, it took an unbiased look at a political concept by showing both sides of an issue. In this case, it was about what makes a man a traitor – how having an allegiance to a cause, no matter how lofty it might be, can also mean being seen as traitorous to one’s country and king. My one criticism is that some of the world building seemed incomplete. For example, the speculation about how the planet's inhabitants came to be ambisexual referred to an earlier colonization event and possible genetic manipulation, but that was it. I don’t know if it wasn’t relevant enough to the story to be further explained or if I missed something by not having read the first books in this series. Either way it felt glossed over. I don't doubt this was innovative back in the late 60s when it was written but it shows its age today ( )
  wandaly | Aug 30, 2019 |
Considering the status of this novel within the SF community the reality is hugely disappointing. The narrative is stodgy on a level with Andre Norton. The action is more lacking than that. The story is dull. The world of Winter isn't particularly interesting. The genderfluid gimmick is interesting and might have made for a good short story but doesn't come close to sustaining a substantial novel.

But what do I know? I feel like the publisher who rejected Harry Potter. And I would probably have done the same. ( )
  SFF1928-1973 | Aug 25, 2019 |
Just a good story. Had a lot of themes that I thought were worth exploring, and never once stepped over the boundary from exploration into preachiness. Even though the narrator was male, the story was set up so that you couldn't help but identify with both him and several other characters, despite their gaping differences. The pacing was a little erratic, but it's a book worth reading. I can see why it's a SF classic. ( )
  schufman | Jul 20, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 268 (next | show all)
An instant classic
added by bgibbard | editMinneapolis Star-Tribune
 

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Le Guin, Ursula K.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Abelenda, FranciscoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Altuğ, ÜmitTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Anders, Charlie JaneAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Andrade, FátimaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Aymerich i Lemos, SílviaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Živković, ZoranTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bailhache, JeanTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baranyi, GyulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chambers, BeckyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ebel, AlexCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Erőss, LászlóAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
芙佐, 小尾翻訳secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Franzén, TorkelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freas, FrankIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freas, Laura BrodianIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gaiman, NeilIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gaughan, JackCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gaughan, JackIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heinecke, JanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Horne, MatildeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
서정록,secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jęczmyk, LechTł.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, TobyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kirby, JoshCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koubová, JanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kuczka, PéterAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laretei, HeldurIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lemen, VanessaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lueg, Lena FongCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lupton, DavidIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malaguti, U.Traduttoresecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malaguti, UgoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McArdle, JamesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miéville, ChinaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mitchell, DavidForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nyytäjä, KaleviTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pagetti, CarloForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palmiste, EndelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reinsalu, TiinaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stokesberry, RuthNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stuyter, M.K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thole, C. A. M.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vinge, Joan D.Prefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
White, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
WoodroffeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Тогоева, И.пер.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Цветаев, Ю.Аил.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Гаков, В.сост.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
For Charles,
sine qua non
For Charles, sine quo non
First words
I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination.
From the Archives of Hain. Transcript of Ansible Document 01-01101-934-2-Gethen: To the Stabile on Ollul: Report from Genly Ai, First Mobile on Gethen/Winter, Hainish Cycle 93, Ekumenical Year 1490-97.

I'll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination. The soundest fact may fail or prevail in the style of its telling: like that singular organic jewel of our seas, which grows brighter as one woman wears it and, worn by another, dulls and goes to dust. Facts are no more solid, coherent, round, and real than pearls are. But both are sensitive.
Quotations
Light is the left hand of darkness
and darkness the right hand of light.
Two are one, life and death, lying together like lovers in kemmer,
like hands joined together,
like the end and the way.
Alone, I cannot change your world. But I can be changed by it. Alone, I must listen, as well as speak. Alone, the relationship I finally make, if I make one, is not impersonal and not only political: it is individual, it is personal, it is both more or less than political. Not We and They; not I and It; but I and Thou.
"Praise then darkness and Creation unfinished,"
A friend. What is a friend in a world where any friend may be a lover at a new phase of the moon? Not I, locked in my virility: no friend to Therem Harth or any other of his race. Neither man nor woman, neither and both, cyclic, lunar, metamorphosing under the hand's touch, changelings in the human cradle, they were no flesh of mine, no friends; no love between us.
The unknown, the unforetold, the unproven, that is what life is based on. Ignorance is the ground of thought. Unproof is the ground of action. If it were proven that there is no God there would be no religion. . . . But also if it were proven that there is a God, there would be no religion. . . . The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.
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Book description
The Left Hand of Darkness is the account of the efforts of a man named Genly Ai, a representative from a galactic federation of worlds (the Ekumen), who seeks to bring the world of Gethen into that society. The inhabitants of Gethen are sequentially hermaphroditic humans; for twenty-four days of each twenty-six day lunar cycle they are sexually latent androgynes, and for the remaining two days (kemmer) are male or female, as determined by pheromonal negotiation with an interested sex partner. Thus each individual can both sire and bear children.

VIRAGO EDITION:
A classic of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness is an imaginative masterpiece that poses challenging questions about human sexuality, sexism and the organisation of society.
Mr Ai has been sent to observe the inhabitants of the snowbound planet Winter. Like animals, its androgynous people enter phases of sexuality and can be both mother and father at different times in their lives. To Mr Ai, they seem alien, unsophisticated, confusing. A long, tortuous journey across the ice finds him losing at least some of his professional detachment, and he befriends one of their outcasts. But will he ever understand their true nature?
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