The Dispossessed

Ursula K. Le Guin
The Dispossessed Cover

The Dispossessed


I liked The Dispossessed more than The Left Hand of Darkness, Le Guin's other Hugo winner. It's a similar vein of sociological SF, which ultimately doesn't really appeal to me very much, but it has an easier story to grasp, to keep it moving along.

The book tells the story of Shevek, a physicist from the anarchist colony of Anarres, who visits the capitalist parent world of Urras. It's an intertwined narrative of his time on Urras - his reception and what he makes of the world - and his earlier life on Anarres, comparing and contrasting the two societies through his eyes.

I was impressed with the depth that Le Guin brings to the analysis of the society on Anarres. This is not some two-dimensional piece of propoganda. Anarres has its problems, and its struggles, and in fact Shevek's story shows up some real flaws in the development of their ideology.

The cold-hearted cynic in me says that it couldn't possibly work that way - it would only take a bit of selfishness to ruin it for everyone - but I can appreciate the rigour of Le Guin's construction all the same. Even her imaginary advanced physics seems quite convincing in its complexity and conflicts.

It's an interesting thought-experiment, with an engaging central character, well deserving of its 1975 Hugo and 1974 Nebula.