Review of The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin

I have owned this copy of Ursula K. Le Guin‘s The Left Hand of Darkness for years. One would presume I bought it at some point.

Description from Goodreads:
On the planet Winter, there is no gender. The Gethenians can become male or female during each mating cycle, and this is something that humans find incomprehensible.

The Ekumen of Known Worlds has sent an ethnologist to study the Gethenians on their forbidding, ice-bound world. At first he finds his subjects difficult and off-putting, with their elaborate social systems and alien minds. But in the course of a long journey across the ice, he reaches an understanding with one of the Gethenians — it might even be a kind of love.

This is one of those books that is more a thought experiment than an actual reading experience. I can’t say I’m sad to have read it—especially now, so soon after Le Guin’s death—but I’ll say I’m glad to have read it, to be done reading it. As interesting as it was, I was bored for almost all of it. The world was breathtakingly described and, again, the moral and social implications of the Emissary’s circumstances were interesting, but the whole thing was soooo slow and indirect. Plus, while I understand the book was published in 1969 and therefore a product of it’s time, I was uncomfortable with the way women were positioned and described. All in all, I think of this much like I do Moby Dick. I’m glad to tick it off my list off books I’ve meant to read, but didn’t enjoy it all that much, though I can appreciate it’s worth.

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