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The Dispossessed [Mass Market Paperback]

Ursula K. Le Guin
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The ideas of Shevek, a brilliant physicist from the anarchist world of Anarres are being stifled by jealous colleagues. So he goes to the hell-planet Urras, seeking a different kind of freedom - and finds himself embroiled in deadly intrigue and bloody revoulution.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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About the Author

Ursula K. Le Guin is the author of more than one hundred short stories, two collections of essays, four volumes of poetry, and nineteen novels. Her best-known fantasy works, the Earthsea books, have sold millions of copies in America and England, and have been translated into sixteen languages. Her first major work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness, is considered epochmaking in the field because of its radical investigation of gender roles and its moral and literary complexity.

Three of Le Guin's books have been finalists for the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and among the many honors her writing has received are the National Book Award, five Hugo Awards, five Nebula Awards, the Kafka Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and the Harold D. Vursell Award of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book that Changed Everything ... Sept. 14 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
There are three groups of people in the world: those whose favorite LeGuin book is THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS; those whose favorite LeGuin book is THE DISPOSSESSED; and ... well, let's not waste our time on the poor fools who don't even have a favorite LeGuin book.
I'm of the Dispossessed party. It's possibly the most perfect SF novel I've ever read, and certainly one of my five all-time favorites. (The other four? C.J. Cherryh's CYTEEN, Bruce Sterling's SCHISMATRIX, William Gibson's COUNT ZERO.) But whether you like The Dispossessed or hate it - and many readers do hate it - it is the book that changed everything. And you can't call yourself a science fiction reader until you've grappled with it.
The Dispossessed is one of those sf novels, like Orwell's 1984, whose literary production values are so high that it's hard to talk about it purely as science fiction. It 's also a quiet novel, even by LeGuin's standards, and it offers pretty cold comfort to readers in search of high-tech thrills and chills. What it does offer is believable characters, unresolvable moral dilemmas, and ideas that will rattle around in your head for the rest of your life chipping away at the received orthodoxies.
Read it. If you don't like it now, put it down and try again in five years or so. Repeat as needed. Eventually this book will change your life.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Book is definitely worth reading Feb. 18 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great service, book arrived super fast. Great book, goes a little slow but not so slow it is makes it unpleasant to read. This story makes you think and consider our own lives and it is really relevant today still
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By John Kwok TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
One of the most overtly political science fiction novels - and one certainly deserving of the term "speculative fiction" - ever published, "The Dispossessed" remains Ursula K. Le Guin's literary masterpiece. It chronicles the journey of "post-relativistic" physicist Shevek from his home world of Arras to the planet Urras, seeking the answer to the puzzle that has eluded him, and one that will allow him to develop the ansible, the faster-than-light means of communication, that will bind humanity and other, closely related, sapient beings into a interstellar commonwealth known as the "Ekumen"; the setting for many of Ursula Le Guin's anthropological science fiction novels, of which "The Left Hand of Darkness" and "The Dispossessed" remain the best known examples, though the latter is set in a time prior to the Ekumen's founding. (In Le Guin's "Ekumen" series of novels and short fiction, humans and others are descendants of early interstellar colonization by the natives of Hain.) Hers is a political science fiction novel in the sense that it compares and contrasts the vibrant, politically Byzantine-like world of Urras, orbiting the star Tau Ceti, eleven light years from Earth, with the anarchist utopia on the barren, desert world of Arras. Originally a "Botany Bay"-like penal colony, settled by dissidents from Urras centuries before Shevek's birth; Arras is a world close to Urras, as an orbiting moon of the much larger planet, and yet, one that is distant too, since Shevek is the first Arras native to visit Urras in nearly two centuries. Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars A solid science fiction novel June 6 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I recommend "The Dispossessed" because it is a good example of how to write a philosophical novel. The story deals with the planet Urras, a modernist technological society, and the moon Annares, an anarchist Utopia populated by outcasts who fled Urras many generations ago. The plot in this book is really secondary. The purpose of "The Dispossessed" is to analyze both of these societies and to point out their strengths and their flaws. While I don't agree with everything that LeGuin says about community life on Annares, I do believe that she does a good job of displaying what life under such a system would be like. Despite being relatively short, this book covers a lot of ground, including religion, economy, sexuality, family life, and art.
With that said, I must confess a little bit of disappointment with the writing of "The Dispossessed". Having read the Earthsea Saga and "The Left Hand of Darkness", I know that LeGuin can do better. In particular, this book lacks any of the great descriptive passages found in her other works. A few good word pictures of the unforgiving landscape on Annares would have gone a long way towards making the book more intensely realistic. Some of the dialogue also falls a little bit short. Still, I view the book overall as being quite impressive, and a must-read for science fiction fans who like to think.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book deserves to take its place among the classics that explore the possibilities of creating a just and content society. Unlike Walden 2, or Utopia, the thesis of the Dispossessed is that utopias cannot be realized: the anarchist society of the title already carries the seeds of its own destruction. This is a necessary read for those who mistakenly believe that the "End of History" has arrived.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just utopian sci-fi
The Dispossessed is one of my favourite books - one that almost always gets re-read when I pick it up just by accident. Ursula K. Read more
Published on Nov. 1 2004 by Andrew Thomson
5.0 out of 5 stars Eternal Revolution?
Shevek is a physicist from a world of anarchists who finds the only way to spread his revolutionary ideas of temporal physics is to visit the world who exiled his culture nearly... Read more
Published on April 19 2004 by Christopher B. Siren
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile Utopian Fiction
There is a planet called Urras. To earthling readers in 1974 it is remarkably familiar, dominated politically by the highly centralized communist state of Thu and the dynamic... Read more
Published on March 7 2004 by snalen
1.0 out of 5 stars Move Over Ayn Rand
LeGuin does for anarchosyndicalism what Ayn Rand attempts to do for capitalism. The difference? LeGuin succeeds. Read more
Published on Feb. 3 2004 by Robert J. Kolker
5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating, Inspiring, Beautiful
Whether or not THE DISPOSSESED passes as good sci-fi, I know not. I am not very knowledgeable of what SF fans look for in a book. Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2003 by J.W.K
5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating, Inspiring, Beautiful
Whether or not THE DISPOSSESED passes as good sci-fi, I know not. I am not very knowledgeable of what SF fans look for in a book. Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2003 by J.W.K
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and compelling
Quick -- name three SF literary portraits of functional societies founded on principles of anarchism. Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2003 by John S. Ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars Ursula's Utopia
I read this book years ago and have re-read it many times. It and Left Hand of Darkness are my favorite novels by LeGuin. Both books start with a what-if premise. Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2003 by J. Badger
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Le Guin's Best
This book ranks high in my top ten list, and actually well above the Left Hand of Darkness. It's characters are complex and interesting and the political commentary is insightful. Read more
Published on July 22 2003 by Sarah Conklin
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