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The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula LeGuin - USED Book

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The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula LeGuin -  USED Book

The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula LeGuin - USED Book

used paperback in average condition

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The Left Hand of Darkness is the account of the efforts of a man named Genly Ai, a representative from a galactic federation of worlds (the Ekumen), who seeks to bring the world of Gethen into that society.

The backstory to Le Guin's Hainish cycle is founded in the concept of the expansion of human culture through the galaxy, thanks to the development of near-light-speed travel, which in turns leads to the rise and eventual collapse of a Galactic Empire. Following the demise of the empire, many outlying colonies like Gethen become isolated, losing any record or social memory of their former contact with Hainish culture. Eventually, a new and more egalitarian social order, the Ekumen, arises in its place, and begins to reach out to former outposts of the Empire. In an effort to minimise the effects of culture shock, Ekumen policy dictates that newly-rediscovered worlds should first be secretly observed from space and the approached by a roving individual envoy, the First Mobile. Once contact has been successfully established and the new world agrees to join the Ekumen, the First Mobile is replaced by a permanent mission, led by a Stabile. The inhabitants of Gethen are sequentially hermaphroditic humans; for twenty-four days of each twenty-six day lunar cycle they are sexually latent androgynes, and for the remaining two days (kemmer) are male or female, as determined by pheromonal negotiation with an interested sex partner. Thus each individual can both sire and bear children.

Gethen is an extremely cold planet, and is nicknamed "Winter." Its level of technology is roughly equivalent to that of early 20th century Earth, but with some anomalous differences: although no forms of air transport (dirigibles or airplanes) have been invented and the most advanced form of communication is radio, the Gethenians have developed relatively advanced sonic weapons. Gethen has two major nation states: Karhide and Orgoreyn. One notable feature of Gethen is that its nation states have never gone to war. Genly and the Ekumen wonder whether the harsh climate, the androgynous nature of the inhabitants, or other factors can account for the absence of war. However, when Genly enters the scene, he finds the two nations on the brink of war over an area known as the Sinoth Valley region. Another unique phenomenon on Gethen is "Foretelling." Practised in the remote regions of Karhide, Foretelling allows a group of mystics, led by a "Weaver," to go into a trance and correctly answer any question about the future. Fascinated by this phenomenon, Genly asks a group of Foretellers whether Gethen will be a member of the Ekumen in five years. They answer "yes". Their Weaver then warns Genly that the whole point of Foretelling is to prove the futility of knowing the right answer to the wrong question. Genly, like other envoys of the Ekumen, is capable of "mindspeak"—a form of telepathy in which a speaker can make his voice heard in a listener's head, without the use of sound. Gethenians know nothing of mindspeak, but Genly hopes to be able to teach it to at least a few.

About the Author Ursula LeGuin

Ursula Le Guin was born and raised in Berkeley, California, the daughter of anthropologist Alfred L. Kroeber and writer Theodora Kroeber. In 1901 Le Guin's father earned the first Ph.D. in anthropology in the United States from Columbia University and went on to found the second department, at the University of California at Berkeley. Theodora Kroeber's biography of her husband, Alfred Kroeber: A Personal Configuration, is a good source for Le Guin's early years and for the biographical elements in her late works, especially her interest in social anthropology.

Ursula LeGuin received her B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa) from Radcliffe College in 1951, and M.A. from Columbia University in 1952. She later studied in France, where she met her husband, historian Charles Le Guin. They were married in 1953. She became interested in literature when she was very young. At the age of eleven she submitted her first story to the magazine Astounding Science Fiction. It was rejected. Her earliest writings, some of which she adapted to include in Orsinian Tales and Malafrena, were non-fantastic stories of imaginary countries. Searching for a publishable way to express her interests, she returned to her early interest in science fiction and began to be published regularly in the early 1960s. She received wide recognition for her novel The Left Hand of Darkness, which won the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1970. In later years, Le Guin did work in film and audio. She contributed to The Lathe of Heaven, a 1979 PBS Film based on her novel of the same name. In 1985, she collaborated with avant-garde composer David Bedford on the libretto of Rigel 9, a space opera.

Much of Ursula Le Guin's science fiction places a strong emphasis on the social sciences, including sociology and anthropology, thus placing it in the subcategory known as soft science fiction. Her writing often makes use of alien cultures to convey a message about human culture in general. An example is the exploration of sexual identity through an androgynous race in The Left Hand of Darkness. Such themes can place her work in the category of feminist science fiction, but not necessarily so. Her works are also often concerned with ecological issues.

In her writing, Le Guin makes use of the ordinary actions and transactions of everyday life. For example, in 'Tehanu' it is central to the story that the main characters are concerned with the everyday business of looking after animals, tending gardens and doing domestic chores. While she has often used otherworldly perspectives to explore political and cultural themes, she has also written fiction set much closer to home; many of her short stories are set in our world in the present or near future. Several of Ursula LeGuin's science fiction works, including her novels The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness, belong to her Hainish Cycle, which details a future, galactic civilization loosely connected by an organizational body known as the Ekumen. Many of these works deal with the consequences of contact between different worlds and cultures. The Ekumen serves as a framework in which to stage these interactions. For example, the novels The Left Hand of Darkness and The Telling deal with the consequences of the arrival of Ekumen envoys (known as "mobiles") on remote planets and the culture shock that ensues.

Unlike those in much mainstream science fiction, none of the civilizations Ursula Le Guin depicts possess reliable faster-than-light travel. Instead, Ursula LeGuin created the ansible, a device that allows instantaneous communication over any distance. The term and concept have been subsequently borrowed by several other well-known authors.Le Guin has received several Hugo and Nebula awards, and was awarded the Gandalf Grand Master award in 1979 and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Award in 2003. She has received eighteen Locus Awards for her fiction, more than any other author. Her novel The Farthest Shore won the National Book Award for Children's Books in 1973. Ursula Le Guin was the Professional Guest of Honor at the 1975 World Science Fiction Convention in Melbourne, Australia. She received the Library of Congress Living Legends award in the "Writers and Artists" category in April 2000 for her significant contributions to America's cultural heritage. In 2004, 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. She was honored by The Washington Center for the Book for her distinguished body of work with the Maxine Cushing Gray Fellowship for Writers on 18 October 2006. Robert Heinlein in part dedicated his 1982 novel Friday to Ursula LeGuin.

The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula LeGuin - USED Book

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