Title: The Left Hand of Darkness
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Page Count: 318
This book was actually nuts, but in a good way. True, a lot of the harder sci-fi elements were a little tricky to swallow and there were times at which I had no idea what was going on, but for the most part, it was surprisingly easy to read, and indeed it has elements of fantasy as well as sci-fi that somehow made it both more interesting and a nicer read.
Really though, pretty much the point of this novel is the fact that it allowed Le Guin to explore gender and sexuality in new and exciting ways. For example, it was known for the fact that in it, a king gets pregnant. You don’t see stuff like that every day, and that’s what makes Le Guin’s writing so gripping and so iconic.
I actually think that Le Guin did a pretty good job here of blending this exploration of gender with an interesting story line and fantastic worldbuilding, all of which came together to create a composite whole which was honestly stunning. It definitely deserves the fact that it was published as an SF Masterwork edition.
So would I recommend this? Hell yeah I would, even if you don’t consider yourself to be a particular fan of science fiction. There’s even a great little introductory essay where Le Guin (and China Mieville) explores what makes something science fiction and whether it’s the job of the novelist to predict the future.
She argues that it isn’t, and that instead, the job of a novelist is to hold a mirror up towards the society that we live in. I can get on board with that, and while it’s a point of view that I share with her, I was impressed by her eloquence.