The Week 9 reading assignment for my online class on Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World was Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness.
This is the book I would love to love. I feel it reflects poorly on me that it leaves me… cold (ha-ha.) As in most travelogues, the narrator is supposed to stand in for the reader. But it’s hard to read this 1969 book in 2013 and relate to the mentality that is expected to be shared by the reader about differences between genders; I felt more at home with Gilman in this respect.
I wanted to love this book, I really did. I sympathize with the theme, I sympathize with the people of all genders who were so relieved to finally see themselves in a book. But unfortunately, I was never very interested in any of the characters on an emotional level.
More than anything, I failed to identify at all with the mentality that was assigned to the oh-so-advanced Ekumen, where gender issues should really have been no big thing at all. I get that the narrator is supposed to stand in for an American reader in 1969, but thankfully, this mentality now seems incredibly old-fashioned, like watching Ensign Janice Rand in her short skirt bring memos for Captain Kirk to sign.
Here is my 300-word essay. Continue reading “My Essay on “The Left Hand of Darkness”: Rationed Life” →
Reading Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness without a good lexicon is driving me stark raving bonkers. I’m starting one here, in the hopes that it will be helpful to other readers.
Some of my sources include Rebecca Rass’s short glossary, Joanna Kieschnick’s LHD vocabulary, and another one from Lowell High School in San Francisco.
Continue reading “Gethen Glossary” →
To go with my online class Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World, I started a series of posts listing companion materials in pop culture, preferably ones that are a little forgotten, have not received the attention I think they deserve, or take an unusual angle. All the better if they are available online, double-plus for free.
These are the ones I propose to accompany Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. It’s more difficult to find pop culture resources — movies, television, comics, games, music, etc. — on The Left Hand of Darkness and other works by Le Guin than any other readings in this class because they are still covered by copyright but pre-date the Internet explosion.
- Le Guin’s official website has a lot of interesting tidbits to explore.
- Le Guin’s works online from the Unz.org database.
- Ghibli Studio released Tales of Earthsea, directed by Miyazaki Hayao’s son Miyazaki Goro. The DVD is available on Netflix, but not for online viewing.
- A few of Steven Celiceo’s lovely pictures, inspired by Gethen.
- Joshua A.C. Newman’s game Shock: Social Science Fiction (Glyphpress) is a fiction game of culture and future shock. Based on the works of Bruce Sterling, Kim Stanley Robinson, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Philip K. Dick, the game pushes the players to make stories that matter to them — stories about politics, philosophy, love, and death.
- “The Science Fiction of Ursula Le Guin”, Science Fiction Studies No. 7, Vol. 2, Part 3 (1975)
- OK, not pop culture, but interesting: lots of scholarly articles on Le Guin (DePauw University page).
- Character list and chapter summaries – Handy lists to help keep track of the numerous characters
- Glossary – Unusual words as you read The Left Hand of Darkness
- Use of pronouns on Gethen
- The Left Hand of Darkness: Introduction to Shifgrethor, an interesting analysis of the concept by Stephanie Weaver