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Overall Impression of the book 
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Post Overall Impression of the book
I ordered this book from my library to participate in the book discussion and it seems that there really isn't a lot going on in the forum. What were people's general impressions of the book? I came away from the reading of it with a feeling of having read one of the romantic epic books, like Frankenstein, where people think and feel affection on a deep level that ends in tragedy. In addition, I really like the idea of a sexless/bisexual society. It would be so much easier for people to be themselves if they didn't have to conform to a proscribed requirement based on their sex. All in all, I think the book was refreshingly different but a bit slow in spots and not as engaging as it could have been. The underlying themes were thoughtful and well put together.

Did anyone like the book?



Sat Feb 27, 2010 10:28 pm
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Post Re: Overall Impression of the book
I'm about half way through the book and I find it engaging and really quite different for 'science fiction'. I read this as a book of fictional anthropology and political science. Ekumen looks a lot like the European Union and the struggles that Mr Ai undertakes to convince the Gethanians to look beyond the petty concerns of their own world and focus on a broader universe of worlds is interesting political comment. Mr. Ai, as the alien, but also as the narrator, lets us see the countries and people through the eyes of the Other.



Thu Mar 04, 2010 11:46 pm
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Post Re: Overall Impression of the book
I agree with Bleached eden from another thread that the book was very thought provoking but I wasn't sure if I liked it or not. It was not very climactically oriented, but more eastern school of thought oriented as a vignette of life and not so much a story with a a "start...buildup...climax...conclusion" setup. When I looked at the major themes and the context of when the book was written, it did have some very forward thinking themes in it. I particularly liked the bisexual theme or hermaphrodite theme because it highlights the built in discrimination that we have with our society because we have two defined sexes. I liken this to starship troopers because I really liked that movie for the fact that men and women were treated as equally capable and incapable...not based on their sex, but on their actions and character. The political commentary is also very interesting from the book, but still did not come to a conclusion of any sort, unless it is to highlight differences in political agendas and the frustration and futility inherent in every governmental style. Overall its one of those books that makes you say "hmmmm" and suspend your judgement on it. Certainly not a nail biter of a book, more of a window into human nature and a mirror to reflect on it.



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Sat Mar 06, 2010 3:40 pm
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Post Re: Overall Impression of the book
poettess wrote:
I agree with Bleached eden from another thread that the book was very thought provoking but I wasn't sure if I liked it or not. It was not very climactically oriented, but more eastern school of thought oriented as a vignette of life and not so much a story with a a "start...buildup...climax...conclusion" setup. .


Certainly the eastern school of thought theme was threaded through the book ... the lines that link to the title of the book give us this connection ..'Light is the left hand of darkness and darkness is the right hand of light. Two are one, life and death, lying together like lovers in kemmer, like hands joined together, like the end and the way." To me this is a book about the Other, the external Other or the Other inside ourselves. Is she writing about xenophobia and/or homophobia or perhaps fear of the "alien" inside us, the Other that we don't understand?

Overall, I see it as a 'think book', but lacking in character development and plot. On the brighter side, although I struggled to finish the first half of the book, I found the second half to move along with some plot, some suspense and I found myself actually caring about what happened to Mr Ai and Estraven.



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Sat Mar 06, 2010 3:57 pm
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Post Re: Overall Impression of the book
I agree with both of you, and thank you for posting such insightful thoughts that I had myself. Great minds think alike and all that. ;)



Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:52 pm
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Post Re: Overall Impression of the book
I recall a reference to the "left hand" earlier in the book and looked it up ,, its in Chapter 2, "the place inside the blizzard", the story of Gertheren and Hode, the incestuous brothers and Hode had committed suicide. Hode appears to Getheren on the ice sheet and grasps him by the left hand, Getheren pulls away and escapes, eventually surviving nine days on the ice sheet but loses his left hand to frostbite. The other reference to left hand is the "left hand of darkness" lines in Ch 16 when Ai and Estraven are travelling across the ice sheet and their survival is in doubt. Not sure about the connection, if there is one?



Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:20 am
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Post Re: Overall Impression of the book
I am sorry for letting the discussion slip,being the leader, my company has been busting me with getting a project done. Saturday I will try to restart the conversations.


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