Friday, December 31, 2010

ninety-eight

The Left Hand of Darkness

Ursula K. Leguin is one of those names you see pretty prominently in the sci fi section and she's always been on my to-read list. Starting with the award-winning novel about gender and identity and cold weather and connecting with the outside world seemed like a no-brainer. I'm glad I read The Left Hand of Darkness, but didn't enjoy it as much as I tend to enjoy sci-fi. It was a thought experiment more than a plot-driven novel, as science fiction used to be 40 years ago. What would happen if people didn't have assigned genders, but came into a particular sex for a little while to mate and then reproduce? How would that affect civilization? What would that mean for personal relationships, families, global conquest, and personality? Le Guin's conclusion isn't really one - it's more of a rumination. People would be less aggressive, and would be suspicious of an entity purporting to be a representative of a large conglomeration of human planets. The story was interesting, starting in cities and ranging through tundra, work farms, and continents. I'm glad I read it and I think you should too, if you like sci-fi.

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