“One voice speaking truth is a greater force than fleets and armies, given time.” — Ursula K. Le Guin, THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS
Ursula K. Le Guin spoke truth as though it were water: nurturing, essential, relentless, at times overwhelming. To those seeking it, truth, her words are a bastion of reason and of hope; to those avoiding it, they are swept away by the tides of their own ignorance. Truth, water, permeates every word, every rhythm, of THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS; it is the current and she the boatman.
THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS is as prescient a vision of another world and time as one could hope for: in a book written nearly half a century ago and brimming with deeply-drawn and moving characters, Le Guin presages the times we face today, the timeless truths of power wielded by the unworthy and the fearful and the arduous journey to restore balance and sanity; it is a speculative triumph of similar — if not greater — magnitude as that of Bradbury’s FAHRENHEIT 451 and Orwell’s 1984.
I was halfway through THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS (by which point it had joined the list of my favorite books) when news of her death hit; to say it came as a shock is an understatement. Now that LEFT HAND has joined its alphabetized brethren among the bookshelves, I find solace in the poetry of her words and in her vision of worlds beyond our own, a roadmap that lights the way through the desolate landscape of our foibles and our weaknesses and our prejudices towards a more truthful tomorrow.