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The Lathe Of Heaven: A Novel Paperback – April 15, 2008
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A rare and powerful synthesis of poetry and science, reason and emotion." (The New York Times)
"Gracefully developed...extremely inventive.... What science fiction is supposed to do." (Newsweek)
"Profound. Beautifully wrought... [Le Guin's] perceptions of such matters as geopolitics, race, socialized medicine, and the patient-shrink relationship are razor sharp and more than a little cutting." (National Review)
"A very good book... A writer's writer, Ursula Le Guin brings reality itself to the proving ground." (Theodore Sturgeon)
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Top Customer Reviews
Ursula K. LeGuin is one of the towering figures in Science Fiction, indeed in all of literature, and this is her finest novel; a brilliant cautionary tale to rival Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
POSTSCRIPT: I don't know how I missed this angle, unless I'm losing something off of what little fastball I once had, but I just watched the long lost PBS version of this story and the most important aspect of this story became abundantly clear. After they showed the movie, Bill Moyers interviewed the author and it occurred to me that this may well be one of the most conservative novels ever written.
Though she spoke of the story in Taoist terms--George Orr gets along by going along--it is also easy to read the plot in political terms. Dr. Haber can be seen as any intellectual who conceives a better way for society and then seeks to impose it, completely failing to understand the unintended consequences which this action will inevitably have. George Orr, meanwhile, understands that the power to shape reality is too dangerous to entrust to any one man or group of men. It is better to let the future evolve naturally and preserve Man's free will, even if this means not stepping in to "fix" some situations that seem amenable to his personal solutions. This is sort of the novelization of Friedrich Hayek's Road to Serfdom and it is very, very good.
This is a novel whose premise is so outlandish that it begs for a dramatic opening line. Something that catapults the reader into the story and sets a frantic pace. A line like "Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time". Instead we get this: "Current-borne, wave-flung, tugged hugely by the whole might of ocean, the jellyfish drifts in the tidal abyss." With that opening, and throughout the book, Ursula K. Le Guin refuses to cater to readers who want the focus of the story to be fantastic power and unlimited possibilities. Instead she gives us a man, George Orr, who is relentlessly in balance. He is hard to upset, difficult to anger, but easy to coerce. And through some unknown power of the mind, his uncontrolled dreams change the very fabric of reality.
When a well meaning psychiatrist discovers this power and begins to use it to improve the lot of the human race, Orr must struggle to decide how much change is too much. Although he is curiously without judgment in most things, he feels deeply that the integrity of what is should be respected. Nonetheless, he is such a passive man that he bends to the will of his doctor almost until it is too late.
Because Orr believes so deeply in reality and in humans being what we are, his subconscious cannot help but balance each improvement in humanity with a correspondingly harsh but in hindsight perfectly logical setback. When asked to imagine perfect peace on Earth, his subconscious assumes that there is something else to fight against, in this case aliens. When asked to imagine a world without racial strife, he does not imagine good will breaking out across the planet, but a human race where everyone looks the same.Read more ›
Avon Books has re-issued a new trade paperback format of the book, bringing this imaginative fable of power--both uncontrolled and uncontrollable--to a whole new generation of readers. And if you happened to see the WNET movie adaptation done in 1980, please read (or re-read) the book; as with most book to movie translations, the movie was good--but the book is just so much better!
THE LATHE OF HEAVEN is the story of George Orr--a man whose dreams become reality, for better or worse. Against his will, Orr is incarcerated, then sent for psychiatric care to treat his "delusions". After a few experimental sessions, Dr. Haber, Orr's psychiatrist, realizes what is going on and decides to start tinkering with the real world...to make it better--with devastating ramifications.
Like Philip K. Dick at his best, Le Guin truly gets the reader into the inner machinations of the protagonist's head--while taking sly social sideswipes at such matters as geopolitics, race, socialized medicine, and the patient/shrink relationship. And there is a reason that Le Guin has often been referred to as a "writer's writer". Her prose is artfully wrought with vivid imagery in an inimitable style which conveys more in a few sentences than others tell in pages.
It is an allegorical tale in which a "miracle worker" (George Orr) comes under the control of someone wanting to play "master of the universe" (Dr. Haber).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I cannot believe I've only just run into this classic tale now! Fantastic read and thought provoking. The first 50 pages are a bit slow but hang on to your hats for the rest!Published 10 days ago by HHH
LeGuin's masterful novel turns 45 this year but, as with the best of fiction--science or otherwise--its resonance seems to have grown with the decades. Read morePublished 28 days ago by DeLarme Landes
Commentary on race, power, means vs ends, good intentions and bad outcomes and so much more. Interesting and thought provoking book.Published 28 days ago by pikasil
Really interesting take on the power of thoughts to create your world. It's science fiction I guess because there are aliens and it has departures from the laws of physics but this... Read morePublished 28 days ago by Jack
A creative work and kept me engaged. The dream/sleep detail was good but the world changing premise was way out towards fantasy.Published 29 days ago by Edward S. Pound
This is a well-written and very thoughtful read! Unlike some older sci-fi/fantasy, this stands the test of time because the plot does not require that decades recent to today be... Read morePublished 1 month ago by appletony
This was another page turner for me. I enjoyed immensely. A few times the plot took a turn or two that require a little time to understand. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Joe D.