The story line is quite simple: Genly Ai has arrived on the planet Winter in an effort to enlist the people in a growing association of intergalactic civilizations. There are many layers to this classic science fiction novel, but foremost is the exploration of gender roles. On this planet, the people are androgynous and sexless until they are ready to breed. At that time they may become a male or female, depending on who they meet. A resident of Winter can be a father of three, and also a mother to four. Le Guin has created a tale that feels epic in scope, but is also quite moving on an intimate human scale. For a book written in 1969, The Left Hand of Darkness feels very relevant to our world today. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Ursula K. Le Guin's groundbreaking work of science fiction—winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.
A lone human ambassador is sent to Winter, an alien world without sexual prejudice, where the inhabitants can change their gender whenever they choose. 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 strange, intriguing culture 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.
About the Author
Ursula Kroeber Le Guin was born in Berkeley, California, in 1929. She was the bestselling author of the Earthsea books and the Hainish books, including The Left Hand of Darkness, which was awarded both the Nebula and the Hugo Awards. With the awarding of the 1975 Hugo and Nebula Awards to The Dispossessed, she became the first author to win both awards twice for novels. She passed away in 2018.
Praise for The Left Hand of Darkness
“[A] science fiction masterpiece.”—Newsweek
“A jewel of a story.”—Frank Herbert
“As profuse and original in invention as The Lord of the Rings.”—Michael Moorcock
“An instant classic.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Like all great writers of fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin creates imaginary worlds that restore us, hearts eased, to our own.”—The Boston Globe
“Stellar...A triumphant return to the magic-drenched world of Earthsea...Le Guin is still at the height of her powers, a superb stylist with a knack for creating characters who are both wise and deeply humane. A major event in fantasy literature.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Richly told...Le Guin hasn’t lost her touch. She draws us into the magical land and its inhabitants’ doings immediately.”—Booklist