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Review: The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula LeGuin 
27th-Nov-2009 05:04 pm
talent, pencil
The Lathe of Heaven The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Somehow I missed out on this book during my early teenage years when I worked my way through everything the library had by LeGuin. I'm glad I finally got around to it.

This story is basically an extended thought experiment. George Orr has the power to change reality by dreaming. His psychiatrist, Dr. Haber, has discovered that he can influence Orr's dreams by hypnotic suggestion to control the kinds of changes Orr makes to reality. But Haber's control isn't perfect - in general, he can control the ends but not the means by which they are achieved. What ensues is a fictional critique of the idea that the ends justifies the means and that what is good is achieving the greatest good for the greatest number.

The characters in this aren't easy to like, and I wish that the resolution wasn't quite so dependent on inscrutable aliens showing up with some untranslatable wisdom. But the book is still a gripping read.

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30th-Nov-2009 05:10 pm (UTC)
My book group has been talking about reading some LeGuin - we all read her in high school, but think it would be interesting to read/discuss as adults. Any recs? We've been talking about Left Hand of Darkness, but it may be too short, so we were trying to come up with a second one to add.
30th-Nov-2009 07:34 pm (UTC)
Left Hand of Darkness is definitely a good one. I remember quite liking The Dispossessed as a teenager, but I haven't read it since. One of LeGuin's short story collections, like "The Wind's Twelve Quarters" might make an interesting counterpoint to one of her novels.

Oh, and I haven't read Lavinia, LeGuin's recent retelling of the Aeneid from a female perspective, but it sounds fascinating.
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