1. All of those books are a good read, but The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness are two of my all time favorite Sci Fi novels.

  2. Do all of the books in the series need to be read in order, or can I just pick up the two books you've mentioned and read them?

  3. I had never read Le Guin’s work and I usually don’t read sci fi, but I gave in and read “Left Hand of Darkness.” I do not regret. It blew my mind and the ending destroyed me emotionally for days. It’s got to be one of the best books I’ve ever read.

  4. Started Left Hand of Darkness. Early in when they describe the aliens, I'm afraid I am not reading it right and it gives me anxiety of going on.

  5. I lost my copy of Left Hand of Darkness when there was about 20% left to go. Really want to know how it ends, but doesn't seem worth it.

  6. I am doing the same. I keep thinking I'll check out her other works but I'm basic and prefer to reread earthsea 10x more times than dive into something new even if its the same author. Similar to how I loved Gregor the Overland and cant bring myself to read hunger games despite their popularity.

  7. Incredible book that actually takes the step on from critiquing capitalism to actually allowing us to imagine that alternatives are possible.

  8. the usual "alternative" to capitalism in fiction is "what if coinage was not used". currency is not capitalism, you can have currency in communist, theocratic... anything setting. its a handy system for resource allocation. its perfectly fine to have coinage in a post scarcity society purely for the benefit that the central planning office can track what people desire and produce more.

  9. There are lots of other books that do this too tho! Def recommend Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers books for anyone looking for more like this.

  10. What does the word based mean now? 10 years ago it meant someone who straight up didn’t give a fuck about a given scenario or object. That doesn’t seem the case anymore.

  11. It is one of my favorite books ever and my favorite science fiction book for sure. The way she is able to illustrate an "alien" perspective which is familiar yet foreign, relatable yet refreshingly new...is true art and the themes all throughout can teach us "egoizing" humans so much.

  12. Absolutely loved that one. It was the first LeGuin novel I read that wasn't earthsea as a teen. I actually liked Left Hand is Darkness even more, you should check it out. Very similar, same universe and about the same time. It's focus is on gender the same way The Dispossessed's is on economics.

  13. It was used as one of the reading books in a political science class I took at SMU in the 80's... I still think about that book, and it still today has parallels in political discourse.

  14. I find it interesting how Shevek and his syndics basically experienced cancel culture on Annarres, while on Urras he came up against violent repression by the police, which very strongly resonates with the US and the relations with the police there

  15. I only read it recently, without knowing anything about it. Man, was I caught off-guard. I wish I had read it when I read the Dispossessed. It sets the mood so well.

  16. “It is our suffering that brings us together. It is not love. Love does not obey the mind, and turns to hate when forced. The bond that binds us is beyond choice. We are brothers. We are brothers in what we share. In pain, which each of us must suffer alone, in hunger, in poverty, in hope, we know our brotherhood.

  17. Yeah, I wrote my master's thesis on it. A strange thing happened to me during the work. When I read the book for the first time as a young man, 15 or so, I preferred the opulent, capitalist utopia of Urras, but when I read it again while writing my thesis ten years later, I discovered that I was now far more drawn to the bold, flawed anarchism of Anarres. The ambitious ideas of a society with no money or social hierarchy remain alluring, but the book is also very good at highlighting the practical challenges with the idea. A beautiful thing that may remain out of our reach forever because of our very nature. This affected me greatly, and I am still not done thinking about it now, 16 years later.

  18. I had a professor who was, like Shevek (a) genius level in their field (b) had no interest in the grading and force-feeding of knowledge, and ran their classes in a similar way. Not an anarchist, but had some of the same nature.

  19. As someone who also has Ursula living constantly in my brain have you read Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer, because they're sharing a flat up in my bean.

  20. There was a recent thread from someone asking why people liked Ursula K LeGuin, you should search it up and explain your answer.

  21. Yup, because I also seem to belong to those who after several tries just can't enjoy the book despite the hype/cult-status. The prose and dialogues felt flat, no particular tension/suspense (within the first 100 or so pages I managed) and even though I like the premises of the setting, I just couldn't get into it.

  22. This is one of my favourites too. It's been at least 15 years since I first read it and it still comes to mind often. Makes me think. It's a deeply human book, and ideological without being propagandist (I think).

  23. Those are three excellent books. The one thing that I took away from it (and it still lives in my head) is that if you can, you should be an active participant in the system of government that you live in. Understanding of course that many people have extensive work and care responsibilities.

  24. If you like this check out some of her short stories. And read about her life and her father. It’s so interesting. Love Ursula laGuin’s work.

  25. I thought left hand of darkness was absolutely amazing, the dispossessed took me a couple of attempts to get in to

  26. YES OMG YES IVE BEEN SAYING THIS FOR YEARS ON THIS SUBREDDIT AND IT FINALLY HAS TAKEN OFF. But seriously though. The Dispossessed seriously changed how I think about both capitalism and communism. Fascinating piece of literature. (Also helps that I love studying physics and the idea of using entanglement, or "simultaneity", as a mechanism for communication is just fucking awesome)

  27. I have trouble getting beyond the first evening gathering / party. Feels like it quiickly looses the amazing tempo of the opening where the protagonist is questioning everything of capitalist soceity. I have on Audible now.

  28. You make a bold claim, but last time I was on Reddit and took the OP advice for a book, it turned out amazing. I just placed a hold at my library on the The Dispossessed now. By the way someone once recommended The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. I had the same kind of etching of that book into my mind forever. It’s a good read.

  29. Was enjoying the book until the rape scene and MC´s justification of it. Was way out of character, Shevek is never taken to task for it by the author. He is painted as a good guy. The victim doesn´t seem bothered, has no agency and her storyline just fiddles out into nothing. The scene has aged like milk and prevented me from rereading the book, just left a bad taste in my mouth.

  30. I agree with another user that the scene didn't age well and it is a testament of its time. However, I don't think Shevek is painted as a good guy. Displaying how complicated people and their beliefs are is one of the points of the book and I wouldn't get out of reading The Dispossessed imagining him a hero (I wouldn't even say Le Guin has ever written a hero in the classic way, in all her work). He is someone experiencing a complex situation and having his worldview and personality be challenged, modified and reasserted in different ways.

  31. I think it mirrors the earlier chapter in which the group locks away one of their own. There’s an exploration of new power, and it goes way too far. In the earlier chapter, the concept of imprisonment is a new concept for the young boys. They have to exercise that power to see why it is a bad thing. Hints of the Stanford prison experiment (at least the portrayal of that experiment). Shevek wants to understand the new gender rules on Urras, and he tries out his power in the exact same way. And, just like the earlier chapter, someone gets hurt and everyone reassesses their power as individuals.

  32. See, I had a very opposite take. I agree that its a little bit of "torture porn" aspect to it, but I found the scene horrifying in concept. To me its the same as the real horror in Gatsby - as long as nothing upsets the free flow of trade its cool for some humans and their feelings to be disregarded. I felt like that was the point of it being more or less ignored - as long as the booze and parties keep flowing, a few little rapes won't slow us down.

  33. Shevek has a mini-breakdown over it, and in general I think it's supposed to be emblematic of how Shevek is getting entrenched in the Urrasti way of thinking. It spurs his ultimate rejection of them as a solution.

  34. It’s supposed to be extremely disturbing. The victim doesn’t seem bothered because it’s a normal, almost expected event in her society. There are no consequences for Shevek (other than his internal horror at realizing what he’s capable of) because there are typically no consequences in that culture. The scene is a reminder that anarchists are just people and that, under the right (wrong) stimulus anyone can become atavistic.

  35. Yeah, I had trouble with that scene too, despite liking the book overall. The whole situation just seemed... off? I don't know, I'm not the best at literary criticism. If anyone has some insight into what purpose it was supposed to serve for characterization, plot, or world-building I'd be really interested in hearing their thoughts.

  36. i didn't like it, honestly felt like it was too distant or like dry for me. seemed like a pretty good book i guess, but i was kinda disappointed.

  37. Read it very young - perhaps 13 or 14 - and struggled with it. Too conceptual and dry and I was too politically immature. Much of it went over my head. Haven’t tried since but it’s been nagging at me…

  38. The same goes for just about all of Le Guin. I love her ideas, and fully acknowledge her as one of the greatest SFF writers, full stop, but her style has always been too detached for me to enjoy.

  39. I like some of Ursula's stuff but both this and Left Hand of Darkness did nothing for me. Far too dry. I prefer Earthsea, some of her short fiction and The Lathe of Heaven. The only Hainish cycle book I think I've read and liked so far is The Word for World is Forest.

  40. I was disappointed that neither Left Hand nor Dispossessed did much for me. I accept the fault is probably mine (I also don't get anything out of John LeCarre) but after all the hype I was expecting something else, I guess.

  41. I've never been able to enjoy reading Le Guin, but The Dispossessed sits pretty far up the list for me, too. It just has this incredibly effective way of abstracting politico-economic issues in order to dispassionately consider them. It doesn't hail capitalism or communism as the ultimate economic model, and goes to great lengths to point out the triumphs and failures of each.

  42. I was too young when I read it. Just pushed through and forgot most of it except the guy is a mathematician. I should really give it another go.

  43. I started it a few months back, but didn't get into it. I think I'm just not that into sci-fi when it's about broad sociopolitical issues; especially when from a different era. I also struggled to get through Fahrenheit 451 for similar reasons.

  44. I still think of the dispossessed as my favorite book of all time but I’m starting to forget bits of it. Maybe I need to make some time for a reread soon

  45. I was able to read this book for a women’s literature class for my degree and have been raving about it since. The story itself is so captivating, while also prompting critical thinking on part of the reader about politics, philosophy, and personal rights versus universal rights. One day I’ll get to read the whole Hainish cycle.

  46. The Dispossessed was a great read, but I never got to finish it. My lovebird shredded the last few chapters before I could read them. One day I'll need to pick up another copy!

  47. I just could not get into it and only finished about 2/3. It was just super boring to me. I absolutely love Left Hand though

  48. Currently in the middle of reading it and am torn between wanting to take my time and savor it and also speed through it because it’s so good and all I can think about. Definitely up there in my top favorites of all time

  49. I just read this last week, and her writing just doesn’t click with me. I’m reading it, and going “these are good ideas” and “This is good writing.” Meanwhile I am bored to tears the whole time I am reading it.

  50. If you want to stay in that kind of political / scifi blend, I highly recommend another classic: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein.

  51. One of my favorite books of all time is Voyage from yesteryear by James P. Hogan, which describes a post scarcity anarchist society. I reread it often and it makes me have hope for humanity, we could do great things if we stop with all the nonsense. So I went searching for similar books and someone suggested The Dispossessed. I couldn't get through it, i didn't like it at all, not sure why. Maybe I was just unfairly expecting it to be like the other one that I like.

  52. Maybe the difference was that in The Dispossessed the society is not post scarcity. It's not a utopian book, it's a critical examination of the utopian ideal in practice, warts and all

  53. I have not read this book but it's been in my reading list for a while. Thanks to your description, I will be bumping it WAY up in priority.

  54. You mean communism in USSR, which was a dictatorship? Or communism in Cuba, which was a dictatorship? Or communism in North Korea, which is a dictatorship? Yes, dictators kill people.

  55. I love some of UL novels but I couldn’t wait for this one to end. To be fair, I’m older, seen a lot of cultural strife and the ideas aren’t as poignant as they once were, at least for me.

  56. The book is far less heavy-handed than Atlas Shrugged, Brave New World, etc. It is a true masterpiece.

  57. It's saying something dramatically different from atlas shrugged. Anarcho-Capitalism isn't really anarchism like the Anarcho-syndicalism of The Dispossessed is, it just steals the name. I'd argue the difference in quality also extends to the political philosophies espoused.

  58. I felt the opposite, but largely because I read Left Hand of Darkness first. I suspect the conclusion here is that your first Le Guin will resonate the most. :)

  59. One of my all time favorites, too. Book was engaging on basically every level: Political, thematic, characterization, world-building, etc etc. Looking forward to someday reading it again to see if it has the same impact on me.

  60. Not a critique of the book itself (never read it) but an observation on what the OP wrote as commentary. It is a naïve observation to think that left movements have been benign revolutions that gently nudge people or ostracize as an extreme measure. As someone who lived through the left movement in India, i can assure you that they can be extremely violent and result in as extreme conditions as a right movement. I am sure more than a million Ukrainians starved by Stalin would agree with me.

  61. I don’t think the conclusion from her acknowledging that average Earth people aren’t collectivist enough is that it could not be replicated here, but rather than currently capitalism doesn’t allow us to imagine a collectivist society and so it will take a lot of work to shift society towards that, with her book being a small example of the efforts needed. And that richer members of society are unwilling to make that change and so it’s important for those with less resources to work together.

  62. It's not that humans are not collectivist enough, it's that capitalism is so all encompassing that it will destroy any attempt at doing this. We are all trapped in the system.

  63. I really never got the appeal of Ursula Le Guin, I kept hearing about her so one day I gave Earthsea a read and I have to say it's the most boring drawn out piece of crap I've ever read. Like there are far better fiction writers out there. Not taking a stab at you OP, I just really didn't like it and felt let down after all the hype over her

  64. "However if you dissent in right wing autocracy, the police will come and kill you. It was true in the 70's and it is true now."

  65. While i hate the "no true scotsman", i'm not very sure if you can compare the very authoritorian "socialism" practiced in cuba with the Anarchist ideal that Le Guin describes.

  66. I think you’re underselling the criticism of Urras a bit. It’s never explicitly described, but Tirin was (maybe involuntarily?) committed to an asylum for writing a critical play. I don’t think ULG has anything positive to say about either society in the book. She’s sympathetic to the anarchist ideals of Urras (to some extent), but she’s also saying that they can’t be driven by a society, they have to continually driven by individual choice. It’s a really pessimistic book.

  67. Communist Russia was a dictatorship hiding behind socialist principles. Hardly the same thing. I should know, I live in a former communist state.

  68. It's one of my favorite books! At first I found the MCs thought processes/language clunky and hard to follow. However, upon continuing I became more accustomed and LeGuin weaves such a beautiful story.

  69. If you're reading the hainish cycle be sure to read the short stories too! The themes in them are just as powerful as some of the novels!

  70. A wonderful author. My favourite is the City of Illusion, simply because it is the first one I read. In my head she is filed next to Kurt Vonnegut on the basis that they both championed tolerance so creatively.

  71. I remember reading it as a freshman in college… had always been a SCI-fi fan, but this opened another type of SCI-fi.

  72. I read it a couple years ago and it STILL lives rent free in my head. It’s one of the few books I’ve finished that I just gasped when it was over. Not from surprise but from awe at the entire work.

  73. I'm on a massive sci-fi kick right now (decided it's my favourite genre and i'm going to dive in) and my boss lent me "The word for world is forrest". It was my first taste of Ursula and it was really good. He also bought me for my birthday "The dispossessed" "The left hand of darkness" and "The Lathe of Heaven" , so I am inspired by this post to pick up the Dispossed after. For now though i'm getting through the Three body problem which is anyone hasn't read they should drop whatever they are holding right now and go buy it

  74. This book is spectacular and usually gets less attention than LeGuin’s other works. I’m glad to see the discussion here!

  75. I so agree. I read it a few weeks after splitting with my fiancée, so I was in a really bad place but this book moved me like no other fiction ever has and really helped me regain some of the agency I felt I had lost in my life.

  76. I fully agree with this sentiment. It’s the book I recommend to people who are literary but sceptical of sci-fi.

  77. I literally just bought yhis book on a whim a few weeks ago at a bookstore. Guess I'll start it next

  78. Read it last year for the first time, easily one of my favorite POV characters I've ever read. I recommend it to almost anyone I know who loves to read.

  79. I loved this book too. I’ve never read or heard of any other book that describes an anarchist society. I thought it was so inventive but also excellent word-building.

  80. I enjoyed this book right up until the Party scene. It was so unexpected and repulsive to me I just could not finish the novel. Not trying to be negative or speak down of this book, but being a victim on SA the scene hit me hard and I couldn't bring myself to continue. Maybe someday I will go back. I have enjoyed all her other books I have read, especially the Left Hand of Darkness.

  81. I loved her Earthsea series and the Left Hand of Darkness. I am going to check this one out from the library as soon as I am finished reading Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology! Thanks for the recommendation!

  82. It’s a book I have immense respect for and appreciate its presentation of its ideas, but I can’t really say I enjoyed it.

  83. Took me a while to get into this book but in the end I loved it. Very profound and thought provoking

  84. I studied The ‘the Dispossessed’ and ‘The Handmaids Tale’ for uni and college and cannot for the life of me being myself to enjoy them and willingly read them. It’s quite sad considering how much people recommend them.

  85. If you want to explore more worlds along these lines, read The Fifth Sacred Thing and Walkaway. Different, but similar as well realised non-capitalist futures. If you want a fictional but more academic treatment, try Another Now.

  86. Reading it with my ex right now as her birthday present—show found it a little slow at first but is now getting into it.

  87. You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.

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