All the information is in the blog title, but if you didn’t quite catch it, this month we’ll be intrepidly exploring one of URSULA K. LE GUIN’s science fiction worlds. Now, I could list the extensive selection of awards this lady has won or been nominated for over the years to give you some idea of how important a writer Le Guin is, but we’re all busy people and no one needs to be reading a 2000 word essay, especially when her Wikipedia page covers all the bases.
Furthermore, because our “jump on, jump off” Read Along book group is called #ReadWomenSF, Le Guin’s Earthsea books are unfortunately out of the picture (they fall into straight-up fantasy), so here are our four SF options for May. (As ever, Amazon links are in the titles (and don’t forget to check your local library for a copy if you’d rather borrow it).)
Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life–Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian mother planet, Urras, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change.
Genly Ai is an ethnologist observing the people of the planet Gethen, a world perpetually in winter. The people there are androgynous, normally neuter, but they can become male ot female at the peak of their sexual cycle. They seem to Genly Ai alien, unsophisticated and confusing. But he is drawn into the complex politics of the planet and, during a long, tortuous journey across the ice with a politician who has fallen from favour and has been outcast, he loses his professional detachment and reaches a painful understanding of the true nature of Gethenians and, in a moving and memorable sequence, even finds love…
George Orr is a man who discovers he has the peculiar ability to dream things into being — for better or for worse. In desperation, he consults a psychotherapist who promises to help him — but who, it soon becomes clear, has his own plans for George and his dreams.
The Lathe of Heaven is a dark vision and a warning — a fable of power uncontrolled and uncontrollable. It is a truly prescient and startling view of humanity, and the consequences of playing God.
When the inhabitants of a peaceful world are conquered by the bloodthirsty yumens, their existence is irrevocably altered. Forced into servitude, the Athsheans find themselves at the mercy of their brutal masters.
Desperation causes the Athsheans, led by Selver, to retaliate against their captors, abandoning their strictures against violence. But in defending their lives, they have endangered the very foundations of their society. For every blow against the invaders is a blow to the humanity of the Athsheans. And once the killing starts, there is no turning back.
Voting will be on my pinned tweet until 23:59 on 3rd May, but feel free to leave a comment on here or on my Facebook page if you don’t use Twitter. We’ll meet on Twitter (using the hashtag #ReadWomenSF) for our usual chat on the last Monday of the month, the 27th May at 8pm (BST). I think that’s everything. Go get voting!