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ursula k le guin | utter randomonium

Tag Archives: ursula k le guin

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin: An emissary arrives on a planet called Winter, where the people are strangely unisexual. That is, they’re asexual until a certain time of the month, when they turn one gender or the other and, er, go into heat, as it were. This is the story of the emissary, who is a human man, as he attempts to convince the people of Winter to join the federation of human worlds. Winter, as its name suggests, is in the middle of a vast ice age. Like many classic SF tales, this is far more about the concept than the plot, but what a concept! The questions it raises regarding gender identity and its effects on society are legion. I wouldn’t say so much that I enjoyed it, but I did find it very interesting. Had the characters been a touch more compelling, it would have been un-put-downable.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Blind Geometer by Kim Stanley Robinson/The New Atlantis by Ursula K. LeGuin

The Blind Geometer/The New Atlantis by Kim Stanley Robinson/Ursula K. LeGuin: This is one of those books where if you open it one way, it’s one book, but if you turn it over and open it the other way, it’s another book, and they meet upside-down in the middle.

The Blind Geometer by Kim Stanley Robinson: A blind mathematician in nearish-future Washington, DC, is approached by a colleague to aid in a strange puzzle in the shape of a woman who draws esoteric geometric diagrams and talks in jumbled phrases. The intrigue is less interesting than the experiences of the blind narrator. It’s a novel way of telling a story, since you can never mention what anything looks like. This story was my introduction to Robinson, and I think I might pick up more of his stuff.

Return from Rainbow Bridge by Kim Stanley Robinson: This bonus novella tells the tale of a teenage boy in the 1960s and his strange experiences with Paul, a mysterious Navajo Indian friend (though in this story it’s spelled Navaho). It’s not strictly science fiction, but it’s a fun and slightly spooky story that rekindled my desire to visit Arizona again.

The New Atlantis by Ursula K. Le Guin: I love Le Guin, but I had a terrible time following this one. I got that they were living in a strange fascist state, and there was talk about new continents rising in the oceans, but all the italicized parts completely lost me, and I have no idea what was going on at the end. It felt almost like it was building up to something and then just sort of stopped.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Steering the Craft by Ursula K. LeGuin

Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin: The structure of this book is quite simple but surprisingly useful. Each chapter covers a certain aspect of writing (point of view, description, dialogue, etc.), beginning with a brief overview, giving sample passages from other works, and ending with an exercise. The exercise comes with critiquing suggestions for those writing in groups and things to consider for those working alone. The occasional opinion essay comes up now and again, always labeled as such, so you know when you’re learning a rule and when you’re just getting another angle on the topic. I admit I didn’t actually do any of the exercises, but they were interesting and worthy. Much better than your standard “describe your morning routine” exercises that show up in most writing books. I also felt like I was being treated like an adult. Le Guin is not taking you by the hand here; she is showing you the path. There is no talk of publication or rejection letters, nothing about recapturing your creativity or affirming your right to write. This book was clearly not written for people looking to write a bestselling novel or take up a brand new hobby. It is, in short, a book for people who enjoy writing and would like to do so better. Would that more writing books were of this calibre.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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