Ace Books, 1969
I read The Left Hand of Darkness quickly after finishing The Dispossessed because of how much I loved the latter. And while I think I slightly preferred The Dispossessed, it’s very possible this is the case simply because I read it first. There’s something about the first book you read by an author that gives it an extra special place in your heart. But if The Left Hand of Darkness does take second place, it’s an extremely close second.
Again, I found myself astounded by Le Guin’s genius. To write a book like The Left Hand of Darkness requires a multi-faceted genius: it requires the mind of an anthropologist, a scientist, and a philosopher all-in-one. If that isn’t enough, Le Guin’s writing is top-notch. It’s elegant, natural, well-paced, and scattered with beautiful sentences such as the following:
“We creep infinitesimally northward through the dirty chaos of a world in the process of making itself.”
Some beautiful writing tends to be, while still enjoyable, a bit pretentious. There is nothing pretentious in Le Guin’s words. Just beautiful writing and a beautifully told story working together to make the reader think about their world in a whole new way. And that is what science fiction, at its best, is meant to do.