Review of The Lathe of Heaven by author Ursula K Le Guin
The Lathe of Heaven is a sci fi novella that packs more into under 200 pages than entire series can usually accomplish in 12 volumes. Author Le Guin is truly a treasure and this masterpiece should be read and re-read by all readers everywhere.
The premise of The Lathe of Heaven is that George Orr has dreams that change reality. His dreams do not predict the future but alter what has always been. For example, he could dream that he has a green cat. He would wake up to find a green cat and that green cats have always exisisted. Everyone on Earth knows that green cats have always exisisted. Orr is the only one who knows that is not the case.
He begins to see a doctor about his sleep problems when it comes to light that he’s been attempting to avoid dream state sleep by illegally obtaining prescription medications. Upon proving that this phenomenon is real and Orr is not crazy the doctor then proceeds to take advantage of the situation.
The book deals with unethical behavior from medical professionals as well as personal responsibility for super powers. The themes are meaningful and the characters are strong.
The world building in The Lathe of Heaven is unparalleled. One of my major complaints for many hard fantasy or sci fi novels is that I get really bored while the author spends hundreds of pages setting the scene. Le Guin manages to paint a vivid picture of this future Earth without ever resorting to standard exposition.
She builds the world and the characters in tandem. We learn about all parts of this story as a whole. Everything is connected and not a single sentence is superfluous.
The most impressive part is how desperately it cries out to be read again, immediately after the first time. The first chapter means so much more after you know what happens in the rest of the book. It can easily be read in a circle and if you’re not careful it may be the only book you read ever again.
I’m astonished, and frustrated, that I was never assigned this book in school. There is so much to unpack, analyze, and discuss on these pages. It should be shown to high schoolers everywhere as the bar for literature to strive to. Instead, I was wasting time with that insufferable Wuthering Heights.
I cannot recommend The Lathe of Heaven enough. It is definitely on my very short to read again list. Followers of my reviews will know how rarely anything makes that list. But this is one of the rare books that is certain to still have something to offer upon multiple readings.
Please immediately buy and read The Lathe of Heaven and let me know your thoughts in the comments.
5/5 dreamers 😴😴😴😴😴
This short novel has been adapted into two movies. Honestly, I’d never heard of either of them before reading the book. The first, a 1980 adaptation starring Bruce Davison has a surprising 7.0 rating on IMDB. The second, a 2002 film starring James Caan has a pathetic 5.8. I think it’s obvious that the subject matter and the way it’s told belongs better on the page than the screen.
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Buy it here: The Lathe Of Heaven: A Novel
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