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sabot Wooden Shoe Books: anarchist and radical literature
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Book Reviews ...

Reviewed: Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
Review by: Ben Straub (Posted: 11.06.2006)

Okay...let me first state that I am a total nerd and have a passion for science fiction. I also like social revolution, long walks on the beach, discussing gender and trans gender issues, interplanetary space travel and anarchism. Well, hot damn...Left Hand of Darkness was the perfect book for me! If you like any of the above then I highly recommend this book.

Ai Genly, is a representative of the Ekumen of Known Worlds, a coordinating body that helps different planets trade knowledge, ideas and goods all over space! He is sent to be the first contact to the world known as Winter. It is a harsh world, one that is just coming out of its last Ice Age. The inhabitants of Winter are human, who settled Winter thousands of years ago, but were forgotten by the human race. Winter is a unique place. So unique in fact that Ai Genly, our protagonist, struggles with many issues regarding gender, sexuality and the division of labor. Why does Ai Genly struggle with these issues? Well on Winter, humans once a month are allowed to choose their gender...that means they can actually choose whether or not they would like to be male or female. Well then, Winter is organized completely different from all other human societies because of this simple evolutionary feat. It is quite amazing to read Leguin's development of how Winter is organized . It definitely gives you a whole lot to think about!

Okay, Ai Genly not only struggles with personal issues regarding gender and all the above, but also has to deal with palace intrigue, assassinations, exile, a trek across the polar ice caps, gulags and nations on the brink of war! This book is exciting. It is well-written and an easy to read. It has an fantastic science story and at the same time deals with a lot of political issues!

Alright! Read on!

Also, if you like this book, you should check out Leguin's The Dispossessed!

Wooden Shoe Books • 704 South Street • Philadelphia, PA 19147 • • (215) 413-0999