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The Left Hand of Darkness

Type: Novel

tags: ,

Just finished reading Ursula K. Le Guin’s science fiction masterpiece, The Left Hand of Darkness. Or perhaps I should say rereading it, since I feel sure I must have enjoyed it once before, perhaps thirty or forty years ago, closer to when it was originally written, in 1969.

For those of you not familiar with it, this is a book:

  • about an envoy from a foreign land, and a mad king;

  • about power-hungry regents and political schemers;

  • about the meaning of patriotism and the making of a traitor;

  • about bravery and endurance;

  • about taking in strangers and showing them kindness;

  • about borders and border-crossings;

  • about recognizing our common humanity, irrespective of gender or place of origin or kinship bond;

  • about choosing progress for our fellow humans over personal gain or safety;

  • about darkness and light;

  • about forging a bond with all of humanity through the intimate knowing of one other human who is irredeemably different from ourselves;

  • about waiting for a chance and then taking it.

In other words, it is the perfect book for our times.

I urge you to buy a copy today. If you’re not familiar with it, read it. And then pass it on to someone else, perhaps someone unsure of the wisdom of welcoming strangers.

When logic and reason fail, perhaps stories like this can awaken new possibilities.


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