The Left Hand of Darkness is unlike any story I've ever read before. Le Guin takes an interplanetary story and blows it out of the water. Genry Ai visits a planet of bi-gender people who are asexual for most of their lives. He gets wrapped up in their politics and their world in a way he never thought possible. This read had me attached to characters who are supposed to be alien, but feel too close to home to be anything but relative. I highly recommend this read if you want a beautifully built world and an engrossing story. Recommended By Rin S., Powells.com
Oftentimes when engaging with science fiction, I find myself wondering, Why do these aliens have the exact same gender construction as humans? That seems highly unlikely. Thankfully, there's this book which removes itself thoroughly from that trope. Through dense and unique world-building of an alien planet, Le Guin tells us truths about our own world. This book is worth the read purely for the intensity in which the alien culture is explored; never have I been so invested in the politics of a fictional planet. Recommended By Junix S., Powells.com
Not only is The Left Hand of Darkness a masterpiece of ideas, invention, and language, but it takes conventional assumptions about gender and grinds them into a fine, powdery dust. Published in 1969, the book won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards and went on to become one of the keystones of science fiction. It tells the story of an ethnologist sent to another planet, but it is Le Guin's powers of imagination that turn The Left Hand of Darkness into something truly transcendent. Recommended By Mary Jo S., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards
A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can change their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters. Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.
"An instant classic." Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“[A] science fiction masterpiece.” Newsweek
“A jewel of a story.” Frank Herbert
“As profuse and original in invention as The Lord of the Rings.” Michael Moorcock
“An instant classic.” Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Like all great writers of fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin creates imaginary worlds that restore us, hearts eased, to our own.” The Boston Globe
“Stellar…A triumphant return to the magic-drenched world of Earthsea…Le Guin is still at the height of her powers, a superb stylist with a knack for creating characters who are both wise and deeply humane. A major event in fantasy literature.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Richly told…Le Guin hasn't lost her touch. She draws us into the magical land and its inhabitants doings immediately.” Booklist
50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION--WITH A NEW INTRODUCTION BY DAVID MITCHELL AND A NEW AFTERWORD BY CHARLIE JANE ANDERS
Ursula K. Le Guin's groundbreaking work of science fiction--winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.
A lone human ambassador is sent to the icebound planet of Winter, a world without sexual prejudice, where the inhabitants' gender is fluid. His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the strange, intriguing culture he encounters...
Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.
About the Author
Ursula K. Le Guin was born in Berkeley, California, in 1929. She was the bestselling author of the Earthsea Cycle and the Hainish Cycle, including The Left Hand of Darkness. With the awarding of the 1975 Hugo and Nebula Awards to The Dispossessed, she became the first author to win both awards twice for novels. She passed away in 2018.