Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin

This book was so good. So good that I said to Laurel, who recommended it to me, "Why hasn't everybody read this? Why was it published in 1971, and no one ever mentioned it to me until now? Why wasn't I told to read it in school, ever?"

I know that part of that is because it's science fiction. I haven't even been reading that much sci fi, and I've only been reading a few writers' work, but it's incredible, what I have been reading! Even the really dated stuff--and yes, a novel written in 1971, and set in 1998 through 2078, is going to be dated--is amazing. Not all sci fi is amazing, I know, but the stuff I've been reading!

Like this novel. Which I want to say transcends the fact that it's sci fi. Which might be seen as a condescending remark toward sci fi, but I mean it more to say that it's about so much more than a view of the future, so much more than spaceships and aliens. It's about relationships. I'd say relationships between people, but they aren't people. They're a lot like people, but they're aliens. Earth barely exists--as a current native says of it: “'My world, my Earth is a ruin. A planet spoiled by the human species. We multiplied and fought and gobbled until there was nothing left, and then we died. We controlled neither appetite nor violence; we did not adapt. We destroyed ourselves. But we destroyed the world first.'” The speaker is someone who left Earth for another planet, Urras, where he serves as an ambassador from Earth (now known as Terra). He was born on Urras, and Terra is virtually uninhabitable at this point, so the ambassadors on Urras (where the interplanetary council is), and those few Terrans on Hainish, one of the other two known habitable planets (Anarres and Hainish) are perhaps the majority of Terrans remaining. There are a few struggling along on Terra, but there's little sustanance left there.

Anyhow, highly recommended. I loved this book. It goes in so many important directions.

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