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Publisher's Summary

Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life. Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian mother planet, Anarres, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change.

©1974 Ursula K. Le Guin (P)2010 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

  • Hugo Award, Best Novel, 1975
  • Nebula Award, Best Novel, 1974

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
  • Isaac
  • Coquitlam, BC, Canada
  • 10-09-10

One of my favorite novels of all time

Some readers and critics have suggested that Le Guin is "promoting" anarchism/communism; this is too simplistic, since the book is far too subtle and tentative to work as propaganda. Instead, she posits an attractive and idealistic society, contrasts it with a world with an appealing facade and an unattractive underclass, and shows how human nature tends to corrupt even the most well-meaning of civilizations. A book of ideas rather than of advocacy, "The Dispossessed" challenges readers to envision humankind's limitless possibilities.

40 of 42 people found this review helpful

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  • thomas
  • charlotte, NC, United States
  • 04-29-13

I Thoroughly Enjoyed It.

What made the experience of listening to The Dispossessed the most enjoyable?

Great production of a great scientific fiction classic. The narrator went back and forth between characters with ease. He also highlighted the gravity of the writing, which is spectacular in a clear and simple manner.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Shevek has to be one of the most compelling characters I have every read. I didn't always like him but he served as a touchstone for the ideas and concepts in the book from economics, to the Sapir Whor hypothesis, moral and ethics and physics. A very compelling and thought provoking character.

Which scene was your favorite?

The scenes of Shevek as a young man were interesting, I couldn't help thinking of Catcher in the Rye at times. I also wondered how powerful this might have been to read this book as a younger man.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The scenes of Shevek with his family were very moving. As a fan of traditional or hard science fiction I typically don't get into more relationship driven stores, but this was an exception. These scenes were a stark contrast to the modern lifestyle of constant entertainment that many of us find ourselves dependent on for fun. It really made you re-evaluate how you decide to spend your time. It was something I did not expect of the novel and I found it fascinating, a real meditation on modern life.

Any additional comments?

I think it would be too easy to dismiss this story as "anti-Ayn Rand" or "socialist", its really more multi layered than that...If you can be open to a story that will make you rethink social, political, moral, ethical and existential ideas you would truly enjoy the novel. The book is not written in black and while tones, there are critiques and nuances to all the social and political structures that make it incredibly well written.<br/><br/>My only disappointment is that The Left Hand of Darkness is not on Audible, which makes more insight into LeGuins "Hannish Cycle" not complete.<br/><br/>I am really glad I listened/read this novel.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

OK story but odd storytelling at times

The draw is the description of the framework of the anarchist society, but this is sometimes thoughtful and sometimes incomplete. Storytelling is a long chain of sometimes laborious conversation with occasional brilliant descriptive writing. Frequently jolts the reader out of immersion with a not chronological flow, jumping around for no obvious reason. There is almost a philosophical science interest but in the end it is never really fleshed out. Worth reading due to award status, but not a sci fi classic.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Philip
  • Thousand Oaks, CA, United States
  • 08-15-16

The Unimpressed

Perhaps this material seemed fresh and exciting 42 years ago when the novel was busy winning every SciFi award in sight - but I didn't think the subject matter was all that interesting nor the characters very appealing. It didn't help that the narrator's voice kept putting me to sleep.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 06-17-14

The ^HIGH^ orbit of what SF can do

le Guin's 'The Dispossessed' represents the high orbit of what SF can do. Science Fiction is best, most lasting, most literate, when it is using its conventional form(s) to explore not space but us. When the vehicle of SF is used to ask big questions that are easier bent with binary planets, with grand theories of time and space, etc., we are able to better understand both the limits and the horizons of our species.

The great SF writers (Asimov, Vonnegut, Heinlein, Dick, Bradbury, etc) have been able to explore political, economic, social, and cultural questions/possibilities using the future, time, and the wide-openness of space. Ursula K. Le Guin belongs firmly in the pantheon of great social SF writers. She will be read far into the future -- not because her writing reflects the future, but because it captures the now so perfectly.

33 of 39 people found this review helpful

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Too much political and social theory for me.

The long monologues about the difference between two societies and two political structures left me bored. It may be a good study for poly sci students, but I lost interest after 2 hrs. I did finish the book, but it gave me pleasure. Too shallow?

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Best of Audible SFF, September 2010

Ursula K. Le Guin???s classic 1974 novel The Dispossessed is brought wonderfully to audio courtesy a Harper Audio production of an excellent Don Leslie narration. Winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards, it is also (and much less impressively, I might add!) my pick for the best new science fiction and fantasy audiobook at Audible.com in September 2010. The publisher???s summary is brief: ???Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life. Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian mother planet, Anarres, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change.??? Here, there is simply too much to say, and so I will play a bit of the coward and not say much at all, other than: Le Guin???s Anarres is the definitive rendering of anarchism in fiction, and this is an unforgettable novel, and a masterful narration.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

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EGOTISCALLY

THEY ARGUED BECAUSE THEY LIKED ARGUMENT
AND HE TALKED TO THEM AND THEY ANSWERED
This is another conversation book or Thesis. When I say nothing happened, I mean it, nothing happened.
ORGANIC WORD
HE WAS TIME
THERE WAS AN EYE, A LARGE DARK EYE, MOURNFUL

40 of 50 people found this review helpful

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  • Rodger
  • West Memphis, AR, United States
  • 08-05-17

Reminds me of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"

I couldn't believe that got so many rave reworks either. This was much more well written than "Zen" but ultimately left me feeling cheated the way "Zen" did. Just not much substance. I rarely write reviews but after reading the reviews for this I felt cheated. I managed to get through the whole thing but can't say exactly how it ended. It had become background noise by then.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Peregrine
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 04-23-12

Great story, philosophical and poignant

One of the 2 best adult sci-fi titles Le Guin has given us; I was very happy to re-read it (after about 30 years) when it came to Audible finally. It's a meditation on human nature, disguised as commentary on the Cold War. At first it seems as if she's idealizing socialist society, but she does an excellent job critiquing it, with an almost Randian notion of egalitarianism suffocating human ingenuity. I finished it yesterday and I'm still chewing it over.

The reader is fine, a little slow and I used the audible app's 1.5x speed feature sometimes.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful