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The Lathe of Heaven (Millennium SF…

The Lathe of Heaven (Millennium SF Masterworks S) (original 1971; edition 2001)

by Ursula K. LeGuin

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4,4101181,597 (3.99)2 / 246
Title:The Lathe of Heaven (Millennium SF Masterworks S)
Authors:Ursula K. LeGuin
Info:Gollancz (2001), Taschenbuch, 192 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

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

Recently added byrena75, Daniel_Bach, cjbanning, murphman, private library, kleos_aphthiton, queenofthejungle
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English (110)  French (2)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (116)
Showing 1-5 of 110 (next | show all)
George Orr has a problem with his dreams. When he has what he terms an 'effective dream' it changes reality to match. What a cool ability to possess you might think? George's problem is that he has no control over what he dreams so he has tried all sorts of things to stop them from occurring. His current method is drugs but he's having to borrow other people's Pharmacy Card's so they're not all allocated to him and this leads to discovery and referral to a therapist as part of the Voluntary Therapeutic Treatment. Dr. William Haber, the psychiatrist Orr gets assigned to, soon realises that he can make use of this talent and improve the lot of mankind as well as helping himself along in the process. Unfortunately for Haber and the rest of the world, Orr doesn't always dream what Haber actually suggests and perceived results could have unforeseen consequences. Will the doctor find a way to get better results or perhaps even give his patient what he wants: to be cured of effective dreaming once and for all.

Touching on many of the big questions such as the nature of humanity and with social and political themes abounding even touching on environmental concerns and over-population which, for 1971 when this work was first published, is quite something. The story never meanders though and stays fixed within its main tenets which means it's a fairly quick read weighing in at under 200 pages. In lesser hands this story could get terribly confusing but I'm glad to say that wasn't the case here. It's a really enjoyable read and I'll certainly be looking for more of her work having only read some of the Earthsea stories previously. ( )
  AHS-Wolfy | Jan 9, 2019 |
George Orr is a mild, unassuming man, a good draftsman, a man who has recently developed a mild drug abuse problem. This is discovered in part due to the pharmacy card that every citizen is issued. He's been making unauthorized use of other people's cards. It's not a very serious offense, at least at his level of abuse. Because he admits it, and another person admits to being one of his sources, he's only sent for Voluntary Therapeutic Treatment.

By chance, the psychiatrist he's assigned to is Dr. Haber.

This isn't the beginning of George's nightmare. George was using the drugs to suppress his dreams, and this is vital because some small percentage of George's dreams are what he calls "effective dreams." They change the world, and not just for him. He's the only one who even remembers that the world was ever different.

He tells Dr. Haber the truth, and manages to convince him. Haber promises to help, but instead begins manipulating George's dreams, in pursuit of his own ideas of a "better" world.

What follows is a strange, often dark, and fascinating adventure through alternating timelines, none of which work out exactly the way Haber intended. Haber grows increasingly frustrated; George grows increasingly alarmed--even as, along the way some positive and encouraging changes do happen. Yet even the good changes are often the result of horrific events that killed millions, and George feels responsible for those deaths.

He needs friends, help, a way out of the trap.

George is a very good man, with seemingly great power, who wants to do as little damage as possible. Haber is not really a bad man, and he is genuinely trying to make things better--but he does have a large ego and great personal ambition, too.

They and the whole world are on a roller coaster ride through an unpredictably changing world.

It's a fantastic, wonderful story. Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook. ( )
  LisCarey | Dec 22, 2018 |
A really great, introspective journey. The world within the book changes left and right as George continues to dream beyond his control. A fabulous look into learning to adapt and to accept. Man is not mean to be god, and that is for the better. Well worth the rather short read by anyone looking for a captivating journey full of intriguing plot shifts. ( )
  DylanWolters | Dec 18, 2018 |
What you would do if you had access to unlimited power? Would you wield it to try to solve problems like overpopulation, warfare, and pollution, or would you be wary of it, knowing the dangers of ‘playing god’ may include all sorts of unintended consequences? This is the subtext to this story of a man who finds that he changes reality through some of his dreams, and turning to a psychiatrist to help him, finds himself being exploited.

Le Guin is an excellent writer, and keeps the story clean, not bringing in all sorts of additional characters or subplots, but at the same time, making us think about the human condition. There are elements of environmentalism, eastern philosophy, and man’s nature on display here. I love how we feel the angst of the world when the book was written, the fear of overpopulation, pollution, and clear references to the immorality of the Vietnam war (“He had grown up in a country run by politicians who sent the pilots to man the bombers to kill the babies to make the world safe for children to grow up in”) - yet at the same time, the book is ahead of its time, and timeless. As a lot of the best science fiction authors are, Le Guin is remarkably prescient about the future; to be warning of global warming because of greenhouse gasses in 1971 was impressive to me. She also envisages battery powered cars (‘batcars’), the inevitable uprising to end apartheid in South Africa, and a multitude of nations all armed with nuclear weapons.

Le Guin also occasionally injects little one-liner barbs into her prose, almost as if in her stream of consciousness, and they’re wonderful (“Look out for this woman. She is dangerous.” then later “…and so now she’d have heartburn. On top of pique, umbrage, and ennui. Oh, the French diseases of the soul.”). When the doctor is frowning and standing over his patient she injects “Your God is a jealous God”, which delivers on many levels, including a criticism of the doctor and a religion.

I loved how the book was set in Portland, and had a strong African-American woman character in the lawyer he enlists to help him. Most of all, I loved the blend of reality with dreams, self with universe, and the virtues of action vs. letting things be. Oh, and the turtle aliens too.

On dreams vs. reality, reminding me of Chuang-Tzu’s butterfly dream:
“George Orr, pale in the flickering fluorescent glare of the train car in the infrafluvial dark, swayed as he stood holding a swaying steel handle on a strap among a thousand other souls. He felt the heaviness upon him, the weight bearing down endlessly. He thought, I am living in a nightmare, from which from time to time I wake in sleep.”

On the meaning of life:
“Things don’t have purposes, as if the universe were a machine, where every part has a useful function. What’s the function of a galaxy? I don’t know if our life has a purpose and I don’t see that it matters. What does matter is that we’re a part. Like a thread in a cloth or grass-blade in a field. It is and we are. What we do is like wind blowing on the grass.”

On nature:
“She went to the door and stood half inside, half outside for a while, listening to the creek shouting and hollering eternal praise! eternal praise! It was incredible that it had kept up that tremendous noise for hundreds of years before she was even born, and would go on doing it until the mountains moved. And the strangest thing about it, now very late at night in the absolute silence of the woods, was a distant note in it, far away upstream it seemed, like the voices of children singing – very sweet, very strange.”

On oneness, it reminded me a lot of Alan Watts’ writings on Buddhism:
“…I’m a part of it. Not separate from it. I walk on the ground and the ground’s walked on by me, I breathe the air and change it, I am entirely interconnected with the world.”

On sex, interesting comment during the ‘sexual revolution’:
“The insistent permissiveness of the late twentieth century had produced fully as much sex-guilt and sex-fear in its heirs as had the insistent repressiveness of the late nineteenth century.”

And this one, on attraction:
“An irrelevant and poignant sensation of pleasure rose in him, like a tree that grew up and flowered all in one moment with its roots in his loins and its flowers in his mind.”

On the Taoist principle of wu wei, and the uncarved block.
“The infinite possibility, the unlimited and unqualified wholeness of being of the uncommitted, the nonacting, the uncarved: the being who, being nothing but himself, is everything.”

I loved this one too:
“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?” ( )
3 vote gbill | Sep 30, 2018 |
I liked the premise of one person (well. -ish) changing the world via dreams, inclusing heavy retroactive changes. I liked the characterisations, and the overall themes, even if the pacing was a bit off. I even agree with the (Taoist) philosophy shown behind it, but I don't like being shown philosophies forcefully in books, and this felt like it. Not even close to horrible Narnia levels, but … tending to a bit Philip-K-Dick style storytelling. Didn't enjoy the last third for that reason. A good book, for sure – but not close to my favourite Le Guin books. ( )
  _rixx_ | Aug 30, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Le Guin, Ursula K.primary authorall 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.)
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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.

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 6 descriptions)

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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 10 descriptions

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