- Hugo Winner - Nebula Winner

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Le Guin, Ursula K.
book-date: 1969
cvr art:
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Jack Gaughan

Book= Fine+
Dustjacket= Fine

Science Fiction Book Club hardcover (follows/matches the Walker hardcover, which came after the original paperback from Ace.) The first SFBC printing was October 1969; this is probably a later printing due to the very new appearance (code "02006" on back bottom of DJ.) Cover by Jack Gaughan, 218 pages. Condition is Fine+ in a Fine dustjacket: very tight and square; no bumping to spine ends or corners; age tanning is negligable. No stamps marks or writing. Unclipped DJ has no tears. hint of wear in top 1/8" of back cover; faint 1" scratch in middle of cover (will not show on scan); no other flaws. This looks new/unread.

The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin. Winner of both Hugo (1970) and Nebula (1969) Awards for best novel. This is part of her "Hainish/Ekumen" series. Another story set on the planet Gethen is "Winter's King."

[For a decent plot summary, I'm quoting from a review from Analog (August 1969)]:
"…she creates a planet and complex society - but this one is based on the fact that its people are hermaphrodites, and that they are living during a glacial age on a fundamentally hostile world. When the people of Gethen - which the first explorers called "Winter" - reach their monthly period of sexuality and come into "kemmer," an individual may be either male or female, father or mother.

Genly Ai has been sent to Gethen as the envoy of his galactic civilization, charged with persuading its governments to join. He landed in the technologically most advanced country, the rather barbaric kingdom of Karhide, and promptly found himself entangled in the intricate web of custom and tradition that has grown out of the sexual duality of the race. His sponsor in court is exiled; for every step forward he slides two back. Finally he crosses the border into the totally different commensality of Orgoreyn - and finds himself freezing to death in drugged immobility in a prison camp. The exiled Lord Estraven rescues him, and they make a hideous traverse of the ice fields, to gain Ai another chance in Karhide.

This skeleton plot only suggests the richness of detail with which the author has built up her world, her societies, their customs and legends, their motivation and attitudes. Actually, the story is of Ai's slow discovery of the structure beneath the facade of ritual and custom, and especially of his gradual understanding of Estraven. Ai tells most of the story, but Estraven has some chapters and others are tales and quotations that obliquely illuminate what is going on.

…Because it is so familiar yet so strange, identification with either Ai or Estraven isn't easy. Readers will be haunted by the book - but eventually they may wonder why. The thing to do then is go back and read it again. I am sure you will find something new in it every time" [P. Schuyler Miller]

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