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The Lathe of Heaven Hardcover – Nov 1971

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan Pub Co; Book Club (BCE/BOMC) edition (November 1971)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684125293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684125299
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,410,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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Ursula K. Le Guin is one of science fiction's greatest writers. She is also an acclaimed author of powerful and perceptive nonfiction, fantasy, and literary fiction. She has received many honors, including six Nebula and five Hugo Awards, the National Book Award, the Pushcart Prize, the Newbery, the Pilgrim, the Tiptree, and citations by the American Library Association. She has written over a dozen highly regarded novels and story collections. Her SF masterworks are The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), The Dispossessed (1974), and The Lathe of Heaven (1971).

George Orr has dreams that come true--dreams that change reality. He dreams that the aunt who is sexually harassing him is killed in a car crash, and wakes to find that she died in a wreck six weeks ago, in another part of the country. But a far darker dream drives George into the care of a psychotherapist--a dream researcher who doesn't share George's ambivalence about altering reality.

The Lathe of Heaven is set in the sort of worlds that one would associate with Philip K. Dick, but Ms. Le Guin's treatment of the material, her plot and characterization and concerns, are more akin to the humanistic, ethically engaged, psychologically nuanced fiction of Theodore Sturgeon. The Lathe of Heaven is an insightful and chilling examination of total power, of war and injustice and other age-old problems, of changing the world, of playing God. --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


"A brilliant novel about the future." -- --Pensacola News

"A rare and powerful synthesis of poetry and science, reason and emotion." -- --The New York Times

"A very good book...A writer's writer, Ursula Le Guin brings reality itself to the proving ground." -- --Theodore Sturgeon

"Gracefully developed...Extremely inventive...What science fiction is supposed to do." -- --Newsweek --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paul S. White on Feb. 5 2003
Format: Paperback
Ursula K. Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven was first published in 1971, but its message is still relevant today. Le Guin's stable of work has included space opera (the Hainish books), fantasy (the Earthsea stories), as well as science fiction (The Left Hand of Darkness). All of her works possess the familiar sense of didactic about them, however. The Lathe of Heaven falls more in the science fiction realm but is probably more accurately described as psychological fiction.
The story is set in the near future and revolves around one man, George Orr, who's dreams can affect reality. He is greatly troubled by this because he cannot control his dreams, thus he tries to stop himself from dreaming through misuse of prescription drugs. He is sent to counseling with a dream therapist, Dr. William Haber, who quickly learns the truth about George's "effective" dreaming. George just wants to be cured of this ability, but Haber sees its potential and decides to manipulate it to turn their troubled world into a better place. As Haber tries harder and harder to manipulate George's uncooperative dreams he becomes the victim of his own good intentions. This leads him down a dark road where he eventually discovers the truth of "the world after April".
The Lathe of Heaven works on many levels. Simply as a story of a man wrestling with his therapist to find a cure to his ills it is an engaging tale. But it is more interesting as a parable of how one person's attempts to do good can go awry. Dr. Haber sees the power that George Orr possesses and understands the good it can do. The world they live in is plagued by war and overpopulation and he believes that he can use George's power to rid the world of its ills. The problems with this become apparent early on, however.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 26 2004
Format: Paperback
I read Lathe of Heaven after my first Le Guin book, Left Hand Of Darkness (phenomonal exam of the value of truth, friendship and a nail biting adventure story at the end!), unsure of what to expect. WHat I found was that again LeGuin couples facinating sci-fi premise a la PK Dick, Heinlein and Card, with engaging, thought provoking social commentary. I confess, I felt the start was a little slow (hense the absent 5th star) and it took some perserverence, but the effort pays off -- in the end I re-read the first hundred pages or so and really dug it (also did this with Left Hand and found it beneficial).
Some of the social issues that interested me the most as incorporated in Lathe:
1. Science for the sake of science -- just cause we can, should we? And the value of scientific gain over an individual's life and freedoms -- is it ever worth it? (this has been done before, granted, but was beautifully executed in the relationship between doctor and patient)
2. Self faith/trust/confidence
3. Outsider/Loner phenomonon...haven't we ALL been THERE before.
I confess, many of these things I got from the mood I was in when reading, my roomate picked up on a few others (the surest sign of a great book -- you could write whole papers..And I did for my Fem. Sci-Fi class)
...and about the end, no spoiler here I promise, the roomie didn't like it ("where the [heck] did that come from")-- I did ("Yup, makes total sense") You be the judge.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By inframan on Oct. 31 2002
Format: Paperback
Now I know why I stopped reading Science Fiction at age 15. I'd always heard & read about how great this book was & having seen both film adaptations, which were criticized as being travesties of the source, I finally bought & read it. It's a good story, though to my taste it's a bit heavy on the political ironies of the period (e.g. how the sexual permissivenss of the 1960s & 1970s create a backlash in the protagonist, or how both major male characters wear "traditional" shoulder length hair & beards). Some of the "technical" theories of Dr. Haber just go on & on & are definitely drowse-inducing, but that's typical of the genre. The idea is a great one, no question of that, in a best of Twilight Zone way. My greater gripe is with the edition of this book I bought from Amazon. There's a typo on every page, often a misspelling or dropped letter, but just as often a chopped or garbled sentence. Soon the narrative voice in my head sounded like Peter Sellers doing one of his more exotic impersonations. So much for off-shore book publishing!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Sept. 13 2002
Format: Paperback
As a person who learned a little Taoism growing up, I find the book a stunningly authentic and spot-on Taoist-themed story told in the sci-fi format. This story about a passive, ordinary, unheroic, most unlikely hero who is able to dream up reality and an aggressive, progress-minded, megalomanical psychologist who creates disasters for the world by trying to manipulate and control the former's dreams, is more poignant and relevant now than ever. Many accomplishments make this book an exceptional work, including the well-rounded and complex characters, the emotionally rich story, the fluid style, the clever premise. The most astounding success, however, is her precise understanding of the Taoist philosphy and then infusing it in a profoundly human story. After all, Taoism is an observation of the human condition. I have never seen it better illustrated in another story. Le Guin refrained from making the antagoist into a typical bad guy, a mad scientist out to destroy the world. His blindness to his own evil echos Graham Greene's "The Quiet American." The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The novel criticizes not science, but the arrogance of the Western culture, as the hand that leads the world to hell. It must be read as a fable, a reflection of what is really going on in the world, now, every day.
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