erasure poem #1321
freedom, of course, is
meaningless, so worthless
that no one except you cares whether
you are free
why not gag?
The Left Hand of Darkness / Ursula K. Le Guin (1969)
I checked this ebook out on a whim, it was suggested by my public library algorithm. I wanted to read a full length Le Guin novel sometime this year — I’m was only familiar with a few of her short stories — and I’m glad I acted on the suggestion.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this.
I wasn’t certain at first as the opening chapters are full of unknown terms and the “spacey” sci-fi tropes I usually avoid. At first one has to trust that Le Guin will make all the odd terminology and language quirks pay off — and they do. While the narrative is dense with “neologistic” terms, through usage, analogy, and eventual explanation it all works out.
More than the high concepts it’s the story about two beings, Genly and Therem, and how they come to trust, befreind, and love each other, despite their mutual mistrust.
This evolves over a backdrop of space travel and potential alien conflict, but the tale is powered by existential concerns — especially around some very interesting gender issues unique to this new world.
I usually stick with the dystopia and post-apocalyptic sub-genre when I venture into science fiction — especially narratives centered on quasi-realistic earth/human-based scenarios — this book has broadened the possibilities. / ebook & audiobook, 01/01/21.
“It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end.”
— Ursula K. Le Guin / The Left Hand of Darkness