The Dispossessed (Book Review)
Ursula K. Le Guin has a powerful imagination, keen insights into the complexities of individual life in society, and a fluid writing style. The Dispossessed, set in the Hainish universe, is the first I’ve read of any of her books. It was recommended to me (and everyone else too via Instagram) by Jim Kast-Keat. Had he not commented on it so glowingly I likely would never have picked it up on my own, as there are many other books out there, and the description for this one didn’t particularly intrigue me.
In this book we follow the story of theoretical physicist Shevek, a man who grew up on a dusty world that served as an anarchist colony, as he seeks to complete his most important theory and get word of it out among the known worlds. To do so, he travels to the nearby world Urras, the place from which his people originally had come. While Anarres was a nearly barren world, it’s companion in a double-planet system was a blue and green paradise.
The Odonian separatists who settled Anarres were looking for freedom from the oligarchic, plutocratic system of Urras. What they achieved was a society in which hardship was common, but brotherhood was simply assumed for the most part. They managed to create a system without centralized governments or currency, and their family structures reflected the egalitarian views they held dear.
This was, for me, a long and meditative read. A reflection on human nature and history, set in a science fiction format. It was an enjoyable, though-provoking book, though not standard fare for this genre of literature. Don’t expect interstellar battles or strange alien species, and you won’t be disappointed.