The Left Hand of Darkness

B was shocked and appalled when he mentioned The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K LeGuin and i said i hadn't read it.  The next time i saw him he handed me his copy to read.

Genly Ai is a emissary from the Ecumen, a sort of Federation of worlds.  He is on a planet the Ecumen has named Winter due to the extreme cold climate.   The people are humanoid but switch between genders.  anyone can be a father or mother to a child but there is only a brief period each month when the people even want sex, a time called kemmer.  Ai first attempts to prove himself to the king of Karhide with the help of an adviser Estraven.  The king doesn't believe that Ai and the Ecumen only want to help Winter and banishes Estraven.  Estraven goes to a neighboring country Orgoreyn and Ai, after traveling through Karhide, goes there as well.  Orgoreyn is a police state though and Ai gets into massive trouble there.  Estraven proves to be trustworthy and the relationship between the two characters deepens. 

so here's a cool quote.
  A man wants his virility regarded, a woman wants her femininity appreciated, however indirect and subtle the indication of regard and appreciation.  On Winter they will not exist.  One is respected and judged only as a human being.  It is an appalling experience.  
i don't know.  I think people want to be valued, appreciated, wanted, for some reason but i don't think it's exclusively for their beauty or attractiveness.  I think that's the "optimism" part of my title shining through. 

I really liked this one.  It does start slow but you really need the "data dump" at the beginning to be able to understand the rest of the story.  a 6 from me. 


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