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The Dispossessed

The Dispossessed

An Ambiguous Utopia

Book - 1974
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"One of the greats....Not just a science fiction writer; a literary icon." - Stephen King

From the brilliant and award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin comes a classic tale of two planets torn apart by conflict and mistrust -- and the man who risks everything to reunite them.

A bleak moon settled by utopian anarchists, Anarres has long been isolated from other worlds, including its mother planet, Urras--a civilization of warring nations, great poverty, and immense wealth. Now Shevek, a brilliant physicist, is determined to reunite the two planets, which have been divided by centuries of distrust. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have kept them apart.

To visit Urras--to learn, to teach, to share--will require great sacrifice and risks, which Shevek willingly accepts. But the ambitious scientist's gift is soon seen as a threat, and in the profound conflict that ensues, he must reexamine his beliefs even as he ignites the fires of change.

Publisher: New York : Harper & Row, [1974]
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780060512750
006051275X
9780060125639
0060125632
9780061054884
0061054887
Call Number: SF LEGUIN U
TEEN SF LEGU
Characteristics: 341 p. ; 22 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

The catalytic main character is Shevek, a brilliant but politically naive Anarresti physicist and theorist, who is determined to share knowledge and perhaps open interplanetary relations.

Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and ... Read More »


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LPL_LeahN Aug 11, 2020

Ursula K. Le Guin is an undisputed master of the sci-fi genre and this 1974 modern classic is living, immortal proof. Every page gives you something to think about, twists your mind into knots that you're able to slowly unravel as you follow Shevek across planets and through time. He's somewhat of a paradox, brilliant scientist and Bohemian, and his story is one of revolution, evolution, humanity, capitalism, objective truth, the pursuit of happiness, and so much more. This book is a must read and I cannot recommend it highly enough for book clubs! So much to unpack and discuss.

p
Paul D'Aoust
Nov 02, 2019

A fabulous book. The vision is compelling, stirring, calls to me in a way that the dominant cultural narrative just can't touch. Challenging as well, and very cohesively written. This is the first Le Guin book I've written, and I was captivated by her human-ness --- she doesn't write science fiction; she uses science fiction to write about people in ways that she otherwise couldn't.

This edition, however, is pretty rife with typographical errors. Not sure how it got past the editors.

c
c_tingstad
Jul 24, 2019

I listened to the audiobook of this one and I really enjoyed it. It really challenged my imagination regarding different ways to form societies and interpersonal relationships, the challenges and joys of each, and revolution. In that sense it is an especially inspiring and, in many ways, heartwarming read for the present time.

There's one thing I didn't really like though, and that's that the main character commits a rape. I think Ms. Le Guin's point was around the corrupting influence of a society viewing women as property on men. I understand this sort of: I definitely think one of the driving factors behind the prevalence of rape is a tacit societal agreement that women 'owe' things to men, sometimes harkening back to the not-too-distant past where women were literally owned by their fathers and husbands, and could not own property. However, our main character is a relatable character. He is not perfect, but I think most of the framing of the novel positions him as a 'good man'. By including the rape scene--even though it's very clearly positioned as a bad thing he did and a source of shame--the implication could be read as, "good men commit rape because of the societies they live in" and I'm not very comfortable with that implication. It is the unavoidable flip side of 'rape is driven by societal norms' but it brushes irritatingly close to absolving rapists of personal responsibility. I don't know. I'm not completely unhappy with it being included because it's certainly thought-provoking, but if having the central character commit rape is something that will be upsetting to you, this might not be a book you want to read.

I'll definitely read more Le Guin though. Her philosophical thinking is rich and engaging, and exploring her philosophy through fiction is a lot more fun than reading straight philosophical texts as I had to do in college :P. Her writing is vivid and her imagination is spectacular. With the caveat above included regarding content warning, I would very much recommend this book.

k
kkirby221
Jan 10, 2019

Interesting book. I probably should have read it more closely. I was waiting for a big bang ending but it never came. I would recommend this book still.

WestSlope_TheaH Aug 21, 2018

This is my favorite science fiction novel of all time (my signed paperback is one of my most prized possessions) and it won late author Ursula K. Le Guin (a long-time resident of Portland, Oregon) both the Hugo and Nebula awards for science fiction. Don’t let the initial slow pacing or non-linear chronology deter you---this book is packed with great characters and thought-provoking ideas. I’d also argue that the subtitle --An ambiguous utopia--- is as meaningful as the title.

a
ABou1391
Jun 30, 2018

Le Guin presents a world built on hope and the problems that could arise from that in the The Dispossessed. If doesn't seem like a super exciting tag line that's because it isn't. It will probably read really dry for those who don't identify with personally with Anarchism. That said if you stick with it, it will turn out to be a really rewarding immersive piece of speculative science fiction, that asks what utopia actually looks like, and what would happen to individual discontent within that society. The book has a demysitifying that is really refreshing, and makes utopia seem not only plausible but also normative and potentially boring.

a
AaronAardvark1940
Mar 17, 2018

This is one of the best poli-sci-fi books I've ever read. Not a shoot-em-up or a car chase in space, hoping for movie fame, this is a book for readers. It revived the long-ago feel of discovering Ray Bradbury. Rich in detail, fully developed characters...what more can I say about highly I can recommend this novel?

t
Tkhroch
Oct 26, 2017

part of a series

JCLEmilyD Aug 30, 2017

This scifi is about two planets with drastically different cultures and societies. Shevek travels from his world Anarres to Urras, the first traveler since the colonization of Anarres. Shevek is trying to find his utopia, but it isn't where he thinks it is. Excellent scifi read.

u
uncommonreader
Apr 25, 2017

Although first published in 1974, this is a book relevant in 2017. Wrapped in science-fiction, this novel presents a capitalist and an anarchist/communist world, with the problems of each. Like the physicist's theory of time, the chapters alternate between the two worlds. Recommended.

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DBrotzer
Jul 25, 2019

"You cannot take what you have not given, and you must give yourself. You cannot buy the Revolution. You cannot make the Revolution. You can only be the Revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere."

b
blatz911
Jan 18, 2015

...the competition for scholarships was stiffer every year, proving the essential democracy of the institution..."You put another lock on the door and call it democracy."

d
dreamquest
Aug 25, 2014

"Change is freedom, change is life."

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