Friday, August 16, 2013

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin

The Lathe of Heaven started slow for me, but once I got into it I really got into it. The whole premise is pretty intriguing, that someone capable of “effective dreaming” could unintentionally remake the world each time he falls asleep. When George Orr wakes, he remembers the world as it used to be, but no one else does until he begins seeing a doctor who hypnotizes him and causes him to dream in his office. Since he is with him when it happens, the doctor also can remember the change. He begins directing George’s dreams in hopes of molding the world in the way the doctor thinks is best.

The changes can be minor – a wall painting of a mountain changing to a painting of a horse – or horrendous, with global consequences.
I was very engaged once I got about 40 pages in. I had no idea where the plot was headed. I felt great sympathy for the main character and rooted for his relationship with a woman who appears and disappears from his changing world. I loved the Aldebaranian aliens, who looked like giant turtles, who spoke out of their left elbows, and whose attempts at communicating in English were filled with imponderables.  (“Before following directions leading in wrong directions, auxiliary forces may be summoned, in immediate-following fashion: Er’ perrehnne!” Good advice.)
I was inspired to choose The Lathe of Heaven as a title for my science fiction/fantasy book discussion group after reading Jo Walton’s Among Others. While I did not enjoy The Lathe of Heaven as much as Among Others, I’m glad I read it. It’s a short book – less than 200 pages. I recommend it for anyone seeking to expand their familiarity with classic works of science fiction.

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