I’m currently 96 pages into Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Left Hand of Darkness” and loving it. It is strange that for some reason I’d thought it would be set in a “Logan’s Run”, “THX1138” or “Fahrenheit 451” future dystopia but it has a setting more akin to Le Guin’s own “Rocannon’s World“; more ‘science fantasy’ than ‘science fiction’, more Tolkien than Clarke.
Chapter 7 made me ‘jump’ in the same way that the last chapter of Gene Kemp’s “The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tyler” made me ‘jump’. It has also motivated me to think about the gender identity of third person fiction narratives (even though chapter 7 is a first person narrative / journal entry). That the journal writer might be female had not entered my mind in any way as I read the chapter, not that I’d consciously thought it was male either but I must have subconsciously thought so otherwise I’d not have been jolted at the “I am a woman of peaceful Chiffewar…” line. I’m sure the surprise was a calculation and orchestration of UKLG.
Again, like “The Word for World is Forest” or “The Dispossessed” the book seems to me to be a vehicle for exploring different types of society and the plot is secondary. In her introduction, UKLG refers to the book as a ‘thought experiment’. Off topic a little, I love her comment (in the introduction) that, “The novelist says in words what cannot be said in words.”
So, I’m loving the book and all the more because it isn’t what I assumed it would be (on may levels).
“Miss at your peril,” as they used to say somewhere I cannot recall.
PS I have just realised that I never did finish ‘Moby Dick’.