The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula Le Guin

The last book of hers I read was The Dispossessed, a couple of years ago, and this is really not dissimilar. It's more '70s sci-fi, based around politics with a couple of different countries providing different approaches which our outsider main character travels around.

While it's set on an alien world, and there are spaceships, that's just a backdrop for the political action. The planet's beings are hermaphroditic, which makes for some fairly dull thought experiments on what the people would be like. Apparently a lack of explicit blokes means there's no war on the planet, although an alternative excuse of the planet's weather is also offered up!

One third of the novel is a surprisingly dull journey across the frozen wastelands, which is intended to explore the character of one of the planet's natives, and their bonding with the lead character, but the tedium of the frozen emptiness came through a little too much. The plot is reasonable, and I think the book's a good example of the genre, but I'm just increasingly realising that this sub-genre is really not my thing.

Posted 2009-05-21.