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post about the left hand of darkness

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rokob committed Mar 1, 2018
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---
layout: post
title: The Left Hand of Darkness
date: '2018-03-01T10:55:52-08:00'
categories: book
tags: book fiction scifi society good
pagecount: 320
---
[*The Left Hand of Darkness*][amaz-dark] was recommended to me by Taya after she read this as well
as *The Dispossessed* which I understand to be in the same universe. This was quite the interesting
read, although my bimodal reaction to fantasy worlds made it hard for me to get into it until I was
halfway through. That is, I either fully accept some world and get immersed in it and the reading is
a breeze, or for some reason I just hate all the weird names and find it hard to slog through.
Overall this was a good book, not my top tier of science fiction, but very close.
The book is set in a different universe perhaps than the one we live in, that is a bit vague. There
is an alien sent to a planet of cold and ice called Winter as an envoy of a group of worlds that
have banded together to share knowledge and culture. The planet of Winter is inhabited by only men,
or more precisely humans who can switch between being men and women during the few days of the month
when they are sexually active. The rest of the time they are androgynous. This leads to an entirely
novel culture around sex, child rearing, etc. The alien is basically us trying to wrap his head
around this concept and work with it.
It is very interesting to see the world of alien contact from the point of view of the alien. I have
not really encountered that style before and I think it is certainly an interesting thread. The book
dives into some interesting moral and philosophical ideas around duality. Lack of gender in their
society means that there is not a man/woman dualism but there still is an us/them dualism. The
question being whether duality is a fundamental part of humanity, of life. Light being the left hand
of darkness, yin and yang.
I am adding *The Dispossessed* to my list which I will get around to eventually. Interestingly
enough I read Taya's paper copy rather than buying it on my Kindle which is the first paper book I
have read in quite some time. I found the experience to be illuminating as to how much better the
Kindle experience is. I read while eating and doing other things which is very hard when you have to
physically hold the pages open. I forgot how hard until reading this. The Kindle has revolutionized
my relationship with reading, not with books, but with the act of reading. I would be hard pressed
to go back to physical books at this point even though for the longest time I was a literary luddite.
[amaz-dark]: http://amzn.to/2F5918u

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