Archive for May, 2022

Review: The Left Hand of Darkness

Sunday, May 8th, 2022

Left Hand is another classic I have somehow missed to now, written by an acknowledged master, Ursula LeGuin. It was well worth it, even though it took a while.

It tells a great story with interesting characters that holds your attention. Like some other great SF, it balances a new environment and world building with adventure and character advancement. LeGuin displays a deft hand here, with both an engaging plot that features timely twists and an overall composition peppered with sparkling phrasing. It’s a great novel.

What impressed me even more than getting to read a great novel is how powerfully she manipulates ideas. She puts at least two fundamentally challenging ideas into the reader’s mind – how an expanding culture/nation can open relations with a fundamentally non-aggressive agenda and the extent to which rigid sexuality defines a society. I was even more impressed that she approached these ideas without resolving them. So much speculative fiction introduces such ideas in such a way that they are intrinsically bound with the author’s judgements on them. LeGuin builds an interesting story around these ideas that reaches a satisfying end without being inevitable.

I was left with the feeling that there were other ways that these theses could end, but not in the sense that they were sequels to this story. Both telling a great story and planting an intellectual seed is a remarkable feat.

Strongly recommended.