September Book Club: Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Charlotte Geeks Book Club meets on the second Tuesday of each month. We read a mix of fantasy and sci-fi novels.

The Charlotte Geeks Book Club meets on the second Tuesday of each month from 7-8  pm at Park Road Books in the Park Rd shopping center.  Our illustrious leader and supreme book-chooser, Nathan, alternates the book choices between the fantasy and sci-fi genres.  We have a friendly discussion of the novel’s plot points, characters, and themes (that mostly sometimes stays on topic), and then head next door for drinks, dinner and further discourse at Sir Edmond Halley’s.  I totally recommend the Irish Potato Cakes, trust me on this one. 🙂

September Selection: Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

A Nebula and Hugo award-winning science fiction novel, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of Genly Ai, a lone envoy to the planet Gethen, an ice-covered alien planet whose inhabitants are androgynous. His goal is to convince the Gethenians to join the galactic society, the Ecumen (think Star Trek’s Federation).  Genly must attempt to complete his mission while learning to navigate a society so completely different than his own without gender roles/norms.

The novel is book number 4 in the Hainish Cycle Series, but can definitely be read as a stand alone.  Published in 1969, it is said to be the first book published in the Feminist Science Fiction genre.  Although, Le Guin states that she was “late to feminism”, she is often seen as a pioneer for women in science fiction.  She is a pretty fascinating character herself, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading some of her interviews.Left Hand Of Darkness


Unlike last month’s book, I liked this story quite a bit.  I thought the world was interesting, and I liked the narrator’s voice, even if I didn’t always agree with his sentiment: feminine traits are basically seen as a negative in the eyes of Mr. Ai.  The characters were intriguing and exploring a world without gender was pretty cool.

The names of the people and places are nearly impossible to pronounce (like many sci-fi novels) and made for a bit of a slower read for me, much slower than a story of that quality would normally take me.  The language is rather formal, but all-in-all, I enjoyed the story…or at least what I read of it.  Confession time. I did not finish the entire book before book club, and I cheated a little bit.  I was a little more than half-way through the night before book club and much too tired to slog through the rest.  So….I may have read a synopsis, skimmed the last 100 pages, and then read the last chapter. (Don’t judge me! It was a busy month, and the first part of it I was finishing the 4th Game of Thrones) I do feel like I pretty much shortchanged myself, and I will most likely go back and read the second half of the book properly.  Although, I will need a cozy blanket and a cup of hot chocolate. I am very susceptible to the power of suggestion, and this book had me shivering almost as bad as when I was watching the Revenant.

Left Hand of Darkness

Park Road Books

Would you like to join us next month? You can RSVP here on the Meetup site.  The October book is A Darker Shade of Magic, a fantasy novel by V.E. Schwab.

Don’t forget to grab your copy of October’s selection from Park Road Books for a 20% discount!