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The Dispossessed (1974)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Hainish Cycle, Chronological (1), Hainish Cycle (5)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,247200714 (4.14)1 / 480
Shevek, a brilliant physicist from the anarchist moon Anarres, risks his life by traveling to the mother planet of Urras in the hope of offering wisdom to its inhabitants and to reunite the two long-alienated worlds.
  1. 61
    The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (Algybama)
  2. 20
    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.
  3. 31
    His Master's Voice by Stanisław Lem (TMrozewski)
    TMrozewski: Both deal with the social and cultural roots of science.
  4. 20
    Rocannon's World by Ursula K. Le Guin (andomck)
    andomck: Both are books in the Hainish Cycle.
  5. 10
    New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson (LamontCranston)
  6. 10
    Embassytown by China Miéville (sparemethecensor)
  7. 00
    The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks (themulhern)
    themulhern: Two opposing cultures collide in both works. Urras = The Empire but their opposites (Annares and The Culture) have very little in common. Annares is determined by scarcity, the Culture by its lack.
  8. 00
    Amatka by Karin Tidbeck (andomck)
  9. 00
    Gateway by Frederik Pohl (sturlington)
  10. 11
    Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock (andomck)
    andomck: Brooding,introspective sci fi/fantasy
  11. 00
    Distress by Greg Egan (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: These books share isolated anarchist communities and discoveries in physics that change everything.
  12. 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.
  13. 56
    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
  14. 02
    The Necessary Beggar by Susan Palwick (MyriadBooks)
  15. 25
    The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (LamontCranston)
  16. 318
    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (lauranav)
1970s (88)
Walls (2)
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» See also 480 mentions

English (192)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  Turkish (1)  All languages (199)
Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
Okay utopian-fantasy science fiction, contrasting socialist vs. capitalist societal envisionings. The presentation of each is nuanced and thoughtful, so that one is led to ponder the balance of advantage and disadvantage of each. There is no Ayn Rand-like or Orwellian pounding of a point of view, but rather an honest effort to look at both objectively. The author's empathy for the socialist society is apparent, but along with a rueful recognition of its inherent voids and inadequacy to meet the full range of the human spirit.
The Kindle edition is full of scanning errors, e.g., "ir" mis-scanned as "m." Plainly, the proofing quality for Kindle books is low, another example of the deterioration in publishing; We still pay for the product, but now it's crappy, without professionally rigorous standards. ( )
  oatleyr | Aug 22, 2020 |
I write this review only for people like me who might, like me, enjoy literature and have reservations about reading sci-fi, but similarly have an interest in Ursula le Guin to try some sci-fi. I found this book really hard to get through. The ideas (political ideals and economic systems in the 1970s transported into a world and a moon) are well established, but the writing is often slow, the naming systems and world-building too convoluted, and the pace trudges in an over-lengthy novel. I will try something else by le Guin, who has an excellent mind, but this was not for me.

I take this quote from the book, part of the excellent ideas expressed, and unfortunately something I would also use to summarise the story: Excess is excrement. Excrement retained in the body is poison. ( )
1 vote ephemeral_future | Aug 20, 2020 |
Phenomenal book. I wish I had read this sooner after having it on my bookshelf for 10 years. For anyone looking to get into a strong science fiction novel this is definitely the one. I loved the anarchist society depiction and how believable it was. I loved the one person’s utopia is another’s hell. I loved the difference between a society that’s capitalist-driven against that which is more equalized. In a strange way this novel is extremely relevant today as it was 40 years ago. Cannot recommend enough to anyone. ( )
  briandarvell | Aug 7, 2020 |
Not as much of a challenge as Left Hand of Darkness, but super enjoyable and engaging nonetheless. The ideas that Le Guin is working with here were much more familiar to me - which isn't a bad thing, it means that the conversation about those ideas is still relevant 45 years after this was originally published. Many negative reviews of this novel revolve around it feeling like "leftist propaganda" and I can see why someone might think that's what this is, but that person would also be wrong. The reason why it feels that way is more likely attributable to the direct, concise, and accessible way in which Le Guin dissects concepts like prosperity and inequality. It feels like she is arguing for something simply because she is able to speak about it plainly.

The other piece worth commenting on is her use of timeline - I found her decision to write about one character from multiple points in time (alternating each chapter between present day and the character's past) to be very effective for telling the story of the novel as well as developing the novel's themes. ( )
1 vote PhasicDA | Aug 3, 2020 |
Really cool ideas in this book.
I loved the comparison with the Terran ambassador at the end...how one world can be a hell for one person and a paradise for another. ( )
  katebrarian | Jul 28, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (120 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Le Guin, Ursula K.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bontrup, HiltrudTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burns, JimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Craft, KinukoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ducak, DaniloCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ebel, AlexCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ewyck, Annemarie vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Körber, JoachimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leslie, DonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nölle, KarenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nyytäjä, KaleviTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pagetti, CarloForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, AnthonyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sârbulescu, EmilTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valla, RiccardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winkowski, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
Like all power seekers, Pae was amazingly shortsighted. There was a trivial, abortive quality to his mind; it lacked depth, affect, imagination. It was, in fact, a primitive instrument.
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Shevek, a brilliant physicist from the anarchist moon Anarres, risks his life by traveling to the mother planet of Urras in the hope of offering wisdom to its inhabitants and to reunite the two long-alienated worlds.

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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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