The Left Hand of Darkness is a science fiction novel by Ursula K. Le
Guin, published in 1969. It became immensely popular, winning both the
Hugo and Nebula Awards, and establishing Le Guin as a major author of
science fiction. The novel tells the story of Genly Ai, an Earthman sent
to the planet of Gethen as an envoy of the Ekumen. He is stymied by the
cultural barrier created by the Gethenians’ lack of a fixed gender
identity. The novel is part of the Hainish Cycle, a series of novels and
short stories by Le Guin set in the fictional Hainish universe, which
she introduced in 1964. The book was among the first published in the
feminist science fiction genre. The effect of sex and gender on culture
and society, a major theme throughout the novel, touched off a feminist
debate when it was first published. Left Hand has been reprinted more
than 30 times, and has received a highly positive response from
reviewers. Widely influential, it has been described as a seminal work
in the genre of science fiction. In 1987 the literary critic Harold
Bloom said, “Le Guin, more than Tolkien, has raised fantasy into high
literature, for our time”.
Today’s selected anniversaries:
Irish Catholic gentry in Ulster tried to seize control of
Dublin Castle, the seat of English rule in Ireland, to force concessions
General Claude François de Malet began a conspiracy to
overthrow Napoleon, claiming that the Emperor died in Russia and that he
was now the commandant of Paris.
World War II: Japanese forces began their ill-fated attempt to
recapture Henderson Field from the Americans.
Lebanese Civil War: Suicide bombers destroyed two barracks in
Beirut, killing 241 U.S. servicemen and 58 French paratroopers of the
international peacekeeping force.
Chechen separatists seized a crowded theater in Moscow, taking
approximately 700 patrons and performers hostage.
Wiktionary’s word of the day:
1. (now historical) The smallest medieval unit of time, equal to fifteen
ninety-fourths of a second. [from 10th c.]
2. (history of science) A hypothetical particle posited by Greek
philosophers as an ultimate and indivisible component of matter. [from
3. (chemistry, physics) The smallest possible amount of matter which still
retains its identity as a chemical element, now known to consist of a
nucleus surrounded by electrons. [from 16th c.]
4. (now generally regarded figuratively) The smallest, indivisible
constituent part or unit of something. [from 17th c.]
5. A mote of dust in a sunbeam. [from 16th c.]
6. A very small amount (of something immaterial); a whit. [from 17th c.]
7. (computing, programming, Lisp) An individual number or symbol, as
opposed to a list; a scalar value.
8. (mathematics) A non-zero member of a Boolean algebra that is not a union
of any other elements. [from 20th c.]
Wikiquote quote of the day:
If we are to be a great democracy, we must all take an active role
in our democracy. We must do democracy. That goes far beyond simply
casting your vote. We must all actively champion the causes that ensure
the common good.
–Martin Luther King III
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