30 July 2015

frayadjacent: Connie Maheswaran on a beach reading excitedly (!reading)
What I've just finished

The Left Hand of Darkness! I no longer have this big gap in my Le Guin portfolio. Um, I liked it. It took a long time to get into, like I said before, partly because I wasn't in a reading state of mind but also because I wasn't really connecting with the POV character (Genly), the plot, or the world. That started to change once we started to see Estraven's POV, because OMG I loved Estraven, they are exactly the sort of character I fall for hard. Principled, kind, able to see the big picture and to act for the greater good even when it isn't what's best for them. (I feel like some people think these sorts of characters are boring. I...don't? Or at least not automatically.)

Anyway, once we got into the dual POV, and especially once they got out on the Ice (I am a total sucker for wilderness adventures, plus there was some fun earth science and even a bit of accurate meteorology which is always a happy surprise) I was On Board and finished it pretty quickly. The ending was sad, in that "I should have seen that coming" way. But good. I look forward to reading some fic and re-reading Le Guin's short stories set on Gethen where they do better with pronouns.

Speaking of, it's funny, because I respect TLHoD's place in feminist science fiction history, but reading it in 2015, it doesn't feel very feminist. Especially when Genly is so sexist all the time, and when his statements reinforce the notion that all the other world in the Hainish universe -- except Gethen -- seem to be patriarchal or at least to have gender identities very similar to the ones Le Guin lived in. It does feel a bit sad that, in 1969 Le Guin was able to envision an interplanetary association without a central government, which has apparently abolished war, and has all sorts of amazing technology, but in which women still do the bulk of childrearing and rarely become mathematicians or scientists. And where the POV character disparagingly calls something feminine or womanish every third page, at least for the start of the story. I mean, it's not particularly surprising having read her other work from that time, but still noteworthy.

What I'm currently reading

The Real and the Unreal vol II by Ursula K Le Guin

I'm pretty sure I've already read every short story in this collection, but it'd have been well over a decade for many of them. After reading TLHoD I was in the mood for more Le Guin, and I bought this in e-book form a few months ago. Le Guin's short stories were generally my favorite so I'm glad to be reading them, but I'm still in the very early works period (late 60s, maybe getting into early 70s), whereas I think it's her mid 70s-90s stuff I like best.

BTW, when I looked at Amazon to double check the title of this book, I saw a *ton* of Le Guin e-books. Which was not the case even a few months ago. Part of me is excited since I sold all my books of hers a couple years ago, but I also know she was really against e-books and Amazon in particular. So I want to investigate this more.

What I'll read next

I don't know! I might continue the Le Guin kick, but maybe I should check out something new. I have a huge recs list thanks to y'alls posts.

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