I'm currently behind on reviews, so don't be surprised if the recent reviews are a bit sparse.

The Left Hand of Darkness

Cover of The Left Hand of Darkness.

Wow! This is a fantastic, clever, wonderful scifi book. I loved the explicitly humanoid species (that are probably expanded on, especially their origin, in other parts of the series). I loved the mostly-androgynous species, their peculiarities, the mechanics of it all, the implications. I loved the protagonist and the carefully spun story arch - but I loved most that the narrator/protagonist was both clever, relatable, and fallible - there were several instances where, in the middle of narration, you started to think “Hold up, I’m sure that’s not quite …” or “Isn’t that just your weird bisexual bias …?”

I also love the meta. My personal meta: This is where I started to get into sci-fi, really. The author’s meta: This book is clearly very early in the tradition of gender-based scifi, and as a consequence, some of it is conservative to say the least. The author was clearly a straight woman who was not very into feminist theory yet at the time. That shortly changed, and there is a very neat later essay(?) where she explains her journey towards feminism, very visible in her Earthsea series. I wish I could remember where to find it.


To oppose something is to maintain it.


To oppose something is to maintain it. To oppose vulgarity is inevitably to be vulgar. You must go somewhere else; you must have another goal; then you walk a different road.


You will die. You will not live forever. Nor will any man nor any thing. Nothing is immortal. But only to us is it given to know that we must die. And that is a great gift: the gift of selfhood. For we have only what we know we must lose, what we are willing to lose… That selfhood which is our torment, and our treasure, and our humanity, does not endure. It changes; it is gone, a wave on the sea. Would you have the sea grow still and the tides cease, to save one wave, to save yourself?