The Left Hand of Darkness

  • by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Narrated by George Guidall
  • 9 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.
A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can change their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters. Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.

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Customer Reviews

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Many themes that are applicable to today's world

So, this is one of those sci-fi books everyone should read. It's the second I've read in the Hainish Cycle but they aren't really a series just seemingly,ever so loosely, very loosely connected, at least for the two I've read so far. But they are both fantastic reads (the other I have read is The Dispossessed which is equally good but totally different.

The Left Hand of Darkness is a story of first contact, not in the traditional science fiction "first aliens to show up on earth" sort of way, but with the first humans making contact with another very distance planet and its peoples sort of way.

The planet alone is so different from what we are used to and the people are so very different in the way they think and live (not really different much physically or in the sorts of jobs they do and what not).

While reading this book, you'll be thinking on deep questions, some of which might be very timely these days, including,
- What is gender?
- What is patriotism?
- What is cold?
- What is monarchy?

The subject of refugees comes up a few times and it made me think even more about the current refugee situation we have here on earth. The subject of patriotism is mentioned several times and requires the reader to reflect on what this really is and how it shapes us.

This book was published before my fifth birthday and I am now over fifty, yet the themes feel like they fit right into many of society's current conundrums. Of course, some themes are clearly universal.

Have I mentioned that it is beautifully written? I actually listened to this as an audiobook from Audible and the narrator, George Guildall, is excellent.

If you have any interest at all in the human condition, in the interaction between people, and in deeper intertwined themes of diplomacy, refugees, patriotism, and brotherhood, then you should read this book. If you are breathing, then you should read this book or listen to the audiobook.
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- A. A. Baldwin

Science Fiction that isn't

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I'm at the point where I can't get enough of Ursula Le Guin. I love science fiction, but grow tired of the militaristic stories that are so common. I'm still looking but I have a hard time finding an author that captures the human experience like she does, and many of the interactions could be people living on earth from different cultures. The setting of an alien going to make contact with a new world is important, but only adds to the universality of the story. Le Guin also explores gender and sexuality unlike anyone. I can just feel my mind expanding through her work. Unfortunately I have mostly only read her audio books, but my goal in this life is to read every work she has written. For now I will just relisten to the books I've read more than 10 years ago.


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- Andrea Forbes Johnson

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-28-2016
  • Publisher: Recorded Books