Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin

Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le GuinSummary: An ambassador, Genly Ai, attempts to bring the planet Winter, into Ekumen (an intergalactic United Nations).

I like a number of Le Guin’s books. I started reading the Wizard of Earthsea books as a teen. But Le Guin is a wide ranging author. The Left Hand of Darkness is part of the Hainish Cycle. These are a series with the same rough universe, but not necessarily connected in story.

The Hainish ones are a lot about exploration of ideas. I read The Dispossessed about a year ago. It was largely about political system. The Left Hand of Darkness largely looks at the role of gender. The world has gender fluid inhabitants. Everyone is genderless except once a month they essentially go into heat and mate with whoever happens to also be in heat at the time.

Their bodies choose the gender at the time of the mating so everyone is female sometimes and everyone is male sometimes. But between their monthly changes they are genderless and have no sexual motivations. Most everyone will have borne a child from their own bodies as well as father a child. So parenting has a different concept. And work has a different concept because gendered workforces do not exist either. There is marriage, but it is more rare.

The Left Hand of Darkness also messes around with politics and social organization, but the main ideas are largely about gender. It is not that the ideas aren’t interesting. She is a fascinating author. But sometimes the ideas overwhelm the plot. Although I know there are a number of people that like it more than I did.

Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audible.com Audiobook

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