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27 March 2007

The Left Hand of Darkness

Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness has been hailed as a science fiction masterpiece. It won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

Genly Ai is an emissary from Ekumenical Counsel, a sort-of league of planets, to Gethen to invite them to join the counsel. The planet of Gethen has been called Winter by the Ekumen. It is a land of vast glaciers and little livable land. Mr. Ai is sent alone to this planet to ready the political and social consciousness to accept the fact that the Gethenians are not alone in the universe.

The humans of Gethen are somewhat different than those of us from Earth. They are a genderless race. Or rather they are androgynous and can change their gender. People are not put into rolls of man or woman. Anyone past puberty can give birth or father a child.

It is interesting that Le Guin, given credit for being one of the first women to write science fiction has wrote one of her first books about a genderless society. This book is a thought-provoking, philosophical story of mythology. It is praised as a landmark achievement in intellectual science fiction.

Le Guin, Ursula. K. (1969). The left hand of darkness. New York: Ace Books.

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