Patron saint of PNW scifi, Le Guin has been changing my brain chemistry since I was an undergrad and this book's no exception. Her 1971 meditation on the sinister possibilities of a world where dreams really can come true examines everything from eugenics, power, equity, and personal ethics to the nature of reality and our perceived control of it. With disturbing prescience, Le Guin urges readers to cast a wary eye towards dreams of utopia that assume sameness and equity as interchangeable. Recommended By SitaraG, Powells.com
Lathe of Heaven pulls at your perception of reality and on your heartstrings in a way I can't begin to explain. An intense world where literally life-altering dreams happen to a seemingly ordinary man who believes there is nothing special about himself. For this reason, he becomes the most important. Recommended By Rin S., Powells.com
No list of Pacific Northwest must-haves is complete without a title from our reigning goddess of sci-fi, fantasy, and literature, Ursula K. Le Guin. The Lathe of Heaven, to me, feels like her sleeper hit; of course, lots of people have read and loved it, and there are even two TV movie adaptations, but it still doesn't seem to get the recognition of The Left Hand of Darkness or her Earthsea series. Published in 1971 and set in Portland, Oregon, in 2002 (a markedly drearier and even rainier place than the real Portland), the novel centers on George Orr, whose dreams change external reality, though he's the only one who realizes it. When he starts going to a court-mandated therapy to deal with the drugs he's taking to try and stop his dreaming, an unscrupulous psychiatrist starts using Orr's abilities for his own visions of the world. The Lathe of Heaven is a fascinating and page-turning examination of power and corruption, and a perfect example of the insight and clarity about humanity that makes up the backbone of Le Guin's fiction. (It also features Mt. Hood prominently, in some very surprising ways...) Recommended By Jill O., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A classic science fiction novel by Ursula K. Le Guin, one of the greatest writers of the genre, set in a future world where one man's dreams control the fate of humanity.
In a future world racked by violence and environmental catastrophes, George Orr wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist who immediately grasps the power George wields. Soon George must preserve reality itself as Dr. Haber becomes adept at manipulating George's dreams for his own purposes.
The Lathe of Heaven is an eerily prescient novel from award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin that masterfully addresses the dangers of power and humanity's self-destructiveness, questioning the nature of reality itself. It is a classic of the science fiction genre.
"A rare and powerful synthesis of poetry and science, reason and emotion." The New York Times
"Profound. Beautifully wrought... [Le Guin's] perceptions of such matters as geopolitics, race, socialized medicine, and the patient-shrink relationship are razor sharp and more than a little cutting." National Review
"When I read The Lathe of Heaven as a young man, my mind was boggled; now when I read it, more than twenty-five years later, it breaks my heart. Only a great work of literature can bridge - so thrillingly - that impossible span." Michael Chabon
"Gracefully developed...extremely inventive.... What science fiction is supposed to do." Newsweek
About the Author
Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018) has published twenty-one novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry, and four of translation, and has received the Hugo, Nebula, Endeavor, Locus, Tiptree, Sturgeon, PEN-Malamud, and National Book Award and the Pushcart and Janet Heidinger Kafka prizes, among others. In recent years she has received lifetime achievement awards from World Fantasy Awards, Los Angeles Times, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, and Willamette Writers, as well as the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Award and the Library of Congress Living Legends award. Le Guin was the recipient of the Association for Library Service to Children's May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award and the Margaret Edwards Award. Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia, Words Are My Matter, an essay collection, and Finding My Elegy, New and Selected Poems. Her website is UrsulaKLeGuin.com.
Emily B. on PowellsBooks.Blog
From Ursula K. Le Guin’s gloomy 2002 Portland to John Brunner’s overpopulated 2010 NYC , here are eight of our favorite books that made predictions about futures past, with varying degrees of accuracy...