Timothy Rice

The Lathe of Heaven

The end justifies the means. But what if there never is an end? All we have is means.

Rating: 3/5 – Le Guin just doesn’t click with me.

For some reason I’ve always felt a little out of phase with Le Guin’s writing; it seems like something that should really appeal to me, but the books always feel a little… off. If I had to guess it would be that she’s not a very strong character writer. I’ve never felt invested in any of her protagonists; her writing never makes them feel very relatable. The writing is distant, almost clinical, at which gives the feeling of observing the characters, not living through them.

Additionally, reading older science fiction it’s usually a dissonant experience for me. It’s a combination of the fears of that era of being in the past being unrelatable (a world with 7 billion people in it? Who could live in such a hellscape??) and the authors’ very understandable inability to make accurate predictions about the future (weird lack of personal computers in all these versions of 2002).

Those concerns aside, this was an otherwise decent book. Intriguing plot, though I didn’t really feel like it was going anywhere. I finished feeling a touch bewildered, which is another common experience I have with Le Guin. The plot is compelling enough that I finished the book in just a few days, and I expect if you’re a fan of Le Guin’s other work you’ll like this one too.

Nevertheless, I’ll be taking an extended break from Le Guin for the foreseeable future to try out other authors. The corpus is too great to spend time on anything but the absolute best.

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