The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

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Light is the left hand of darkness and darkness the right hand of light.

This book was deep. Philosophical and wonder laced with alien hLight is the left hand of darkness and darkness the right hand of light.

This book was deep. Philosophical and wonder laced with alien humanity and sexuality. The nearest comparison I had with the feels was “Frank Herbert’s Dune” and this book barely 200 pages a pop. That is how powerful this seemingly pulpish novel is and how any author should aspire.

I’ve read Ursula Le Guin before with Tales of Earthsea as a kid but The Left Hand of Darkness made me a fan of her as an adult. You could say the book fit more into literary fiction genre than it does with science fiction but everything can be a form of literature with merit even if it was in a category many critics despise.

“The Left Hand of Darkness” was an epistolary novel set in a winter world called Gethen, populated by hermaphroditic people who changed sex by monthly cycle. The story was mixed-narrated by the Ekumen envoy, Genly Ai who was on a diplomatic mission to form an alliance with the Gethenian. At the same time, he form an understanding of sorts with the Karhidian Prime Minister, Estraven, who was later being branded as a traitor and exiled. In his narrative, Therem Harth -or Estreven- provided another aspect of the world through a native’s eyes. Through Ai, we learn the basic of the society through a stranger’s eyes but through Therem, we learn how the society reacted, the culture, the religion and belief, what was norm and taboo. The narratives was added with reports of various Ekumen scientists and Genthen’s mythology. Essentially, majority of the story focused itself with the story of these people, cross-linked with alien anthropology and politics. Again, a ginormous feat done in a rather compact volume while many authors choose to write endless series just to explain minute details of everything.

I like that the book somehow layered with stories, human emotions, philosophical questions and more mythologies. Curiously, even when the gender roles was reversed and absent or existed (in Kemmer), the characters became even more layered with potentials exceeding what we’re used too. Weirdly enough, even Genly had a problem describing women to Therem although he did use a lot of female adjectives to describe some of the Gethenians even in their natural state (well, the author is a woman).

The writing is beautiful. The story is brief and beautiful. About two person and a planet and how things don’t always go as everyone planned. About regrets and mistakes. About pain and suffering and joy and love. Powerful and simple themes in one tiny book.umanity and sexuality. The nearest comparison I had with the feels was “Frank Herbert’s Dune” and this book barely 200 pages a pop. That is how powerful this seemingly pulpish novel is and how any author should aspire.

I’ve read Ursula Le Guin before with Tales of Earthsea as a kid but The Left Hand of Darkness made me a fan of her as an adult. You could say the book fit more into literary fiction genre than it does with science fiction but everything can be a form of literature with merit even if it was in a category many critics despise. 

“The Left Hand of Darkness” was an epistolary novel set in a winter world called Gethen, populated by hermaphroditic people who changed sex by monthly cycle. The story was mixed-narrated by the Ekumen envoy, Genly Ai who was on a diplomatic mission to form an alliance with the Gethenian. At the same time, he form an understanding of sorts with the Karhidian Prime Minister, Estraven, who was later being branded as a traitor and exiled. In his narrative, Therem Harth -or Estreven- provided another aspect of the world through a native’s eyes. Through Ai, we learn the basic of the society through a stranger’s eyes but through Therem, we learn how the society reacted, the culture, the religion and belief, what was norm and taboo. The narratives was added with reports of various Ekumen scientists and Genthen’s mythology. Essentially, majority of the story focused itself with the story of these people, cross-linked with alien anthropology and politics. Again, a ginormous feat done in a rather compact volume while many authors choose to write endless series just to explain minute details of everything.

I like that the book somehow layered with stories, human emotions, philosophical questions and more mythologies. Curiously, even when the gender roles was reversed and absent or existed (in Kemmer), the characters became even more layered with potentials exceeding what we’re used too. Weirdly enough, even Genly had a problem describing women to Therem although he did use a lot of female adjectives to describe some of the Gethenians even in their natural state (well, the author is a woman). 

The writing is beautiful. The story is brief and beautiful. About two person and a planet and how things don’t always go as everyone planned. About regrets and mistakes. About pain and suffering and joy and love. Powerful and simple themes in one tiny book.

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