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The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness


by Ursula K. Le Guin

Analysis: Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

Le Guin received some flak from feminists because she used the "he" third person singular to describe the Gethenians, despite their androgynous nature. To balance this, Le Guin revised her short story "Winter's King"—which takes place on Gethen—with all of the pronouns taking the female "she" form. Okay, so "Winter's King" isn't as long as The Left Hand of Darkness. It's the thought that counts.

Who loves Ursula K. Le Guin? Major literary critic Harold Bloom does. Not in the K-I-S-S-I-N-G kind of way, mind. Rather, he loves her writing. A lot. In his Novelists and Novels, Bloom writes essays for about 100 must-read novels, of which The Left Hand of Darkness is one. When writing about Le Guin, Bloom gives her props over Philip K. Dick for her science fiction savvy and says, "Le Guin, more than Tolkien, has raised fantasy into high literature, for our time, […]." Now, that's love. (source)

The Left Hand of Darkness is actually one of several novels and short stories in Le Guin's Hainish Cycle. We're going to list them in chronological order with the publication dates in parenthesis:
- The Dispossessed (1974)
- The Word for World is Forest (1976)
- Rocannon's World (1966)
- Planet of Exile (1966)
- City of Illusions (1967)
- The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)
- The Telling (2000)
But Le Guin herself has said that the connection between these novels is murky at best. The ansible is created in The Dispossessed, but you can read The Left Hand of Darkness without knowing that. Likewise, Rocannon's World has mindspeech, same as Left Hand, but the Ekumen have not been created. Instead, there is something called the League of Worlds. All in all, the most important thing is just to read the novels and enjoy them for themselves. (Source)

Locus Magazine once polled its readers to discover what they thought were the best science fiction novels of all time. (All time being a period between 1975-1987 it seems.) In their February 1998 issue, they printed the results. And what book do you think won first place? Actually, it was Frank Herbert's Dune, but The Left Hand of Darkness came in a strong second. It even beat other science fiction powerhouses like Stranger in a Strange LandA Canticle for Lebowitz, Ringworld, and The Time Machine. (source)

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