Monday, March 12, 2018

The Dispossessed

Ursula Le Guin died in January. She was eighty-nine and was well known for her writing of Science Fiction and Fantasy for adults and teenagers. Many years ago I read the first of her Earthsea books. I decided that I should read read some more of her work and chose The Dispossessed.

The book is set on two planets, Anarres and Urras. One hundred and fifty years earlier a group of people from Urras decided to leave that planet to set up a new (and better) settlement on nearby Anarras. But over time life in the new settlement, for some, is far from perfect. Shevek is a physicist disillusioned with restrictions placed on the publication of new ideas on Anarres who decides to travel to Urras where he hopes that his research will be accepted.

Becoming accustomed to a new way of life is at first difficult for Shevek, the environment in which he is now living and working being entirely different from that on Anarras. However he soon discovers that all is not right on the planet and that, for many of the population, life is far from ideal. Shevek must decide how to counter the politics and power struggles he encounters to ensure that his research is published for the benefit of all, and not just a few. Doing so, however, places his life in danger.

I did not find this book easy to read however I wanted to keep reading it. Each chapter is set on Annares or Urras and alternates from the life that Shevek is currently experiencing as well as recounting what has gone before. The two parallel accounts eventually converge to provide the ending of the story. A number of reviews of the book, originally published in 1974, mention that the reviewer had read the book more than once and I suspect that I really need to read the book a second time to fully appreciate this novel.

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