The Left Hand of Darkness

Ursula K. Le Guin
The Left Hand of Darkness Cover

The Left Hand of Darkness


It took me a long while to find this book second hand, because I found it new to be a bit too dear for me. But it was worth the wait, I loved it, like I have loved all Le Guin books I have read so far.

This is the story of Genly Ai, a convoi from the Ekumen, a eighty-plus collective of worlds of mankind, all descendants from the Hain. He is on the planet Winter, where it is indeed very cold. He is by himself, and is trying to convince the people of Gethen (as they call their own planet) to join the Ekumen to facilitate cultural and scientific exchange. The book covers a lot about Gethen, about the two main countries (Karhide and Orgoreyn), the attitude towards politics, patriotism, sexuality, communication, love and friendship. The Gethen-people have no set gender. They enter their fertile period every 26 days, and depending on the proximity of those set in the opposite gender in their own fertile period they are either male of female. Everyone can become both father and mother in their life times. Another strange thing is that the world doesn’t know the concept of war. Genly Ai wonders if this is because of the gender-neutrality on Gethen. Genly has a tough time on Gethen, in Karhide a paranoid king rules a very traditional society, and in Orgoreyn it is a very totalitarian regime. Slowly, because of all that happens to him and around him he starts to understand the world and advances his cause, but by then he is changed himself.

This is one of those books that stays with you. Even while reading it I knew that there is a lot behind the main story. The way Gethen world works with regards to national feelings, politics, communication, sexuality, war, advancements… There is a lot to learn here, and I find myself still thinking about it. Four out five stars.