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Book Club: Science Fiction (w/ Natalie)
January 16, 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm CET
The FLOCK is back for another SF book club! This time we will be discussing Ursula K Le Guin’s groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness.
The novel follows the story of Genly Ai, a human native of Terra, who is sent to the planet of Gethen as an envoy of the Ekumen, a loose confederation of planets. Ai’s mission is to persuade the nations of Gethen to join the Ekumen, but he is stymied by a lack of understanding of their culture. Individuals on Gethen are ambisexual, with no fixed sex; this has a strong influence on the culture of the planet, and creates a barrier of understanding for Ai.
The Left Hand of Darkness was among the first books in the genre now known as feminist science fiction and is the most famous examination of androgyny in science fiction. A major theme of the novel is the effect of sex and gender on culture and society, explored in particular through the relationship between Ai and Estraven, a Gethenian politician who trusts and helps Ai. When the book was first published, the gender theme touched off a feminist debate over the depiction of the ambisexual Gethenians. The novel also explores the interaction between the unfolding loyalties of its two main characters, the loneliness and rootlessness of Ai, and the contrast between the religions of Gethen’s two major nations.
The Left Hand of Darkness has been reprinted more than 30 times and received high praise from reviewers. In 1970 it was voted the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novel by fans and writers, respectively, and was ranked as the third-best novel, behind Frank Herbert’s Dune and Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, in a 1975 poll in Locus magazine. In 1987, Locus ranked it second among science fiction novels, after Dune, and literary critic Harold Bloom wrote, “Le Guin, more than Tolkien, has raised fantasy into high literature, for our time”
*Mention the book club and receive the book for 10% off!*
(free to attend, no reservation required)