Review of The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (Hainish Cycle)

I just finished reading The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (Hainish Cycle) by Ursula K. Le Guin.๐Ÿ“š

The book’s story has an unusual structure. It starts in the middle of the story, and each chapter is alternating between the past and the future. In the past chapter, we are told the childhood and growing up of the main character Shevek.

In the future chapter, we are told about his journey to the sister planet Urrasti where he is a guest of a country called A-Io. Shevek itself lives on the planet called Anarresti, a harsh world without much plant and animal life. He is a descendant of settlers who fled from Urrasti some 170 years ago.

He is a physicist but does not quite fit into the regular life of Anarresti. As he is asking questions about society. On Anarresti, there is no official government, everything should be organized decentrally, and you don’t have personal belongings. But due to drought and the coming famine some more central government has started, and the people stop thining for themself and don’t use the freedom they have anymore. So officially, there are no walls on Anarresti, but the people start building walls in their behavior.

With Urrasti, there is only loose contact, as the initial settlement plan guaranteed the settler’s independence. Urrasti ship still comes to the planet, but nobody is allowed to leave the spaceport. On one of such a spaceship, Shevek starts a journey to the sister planet. He hopes to finish his work on a theory about time and space. But soon needs to realize that he now just exchanged one sort of walls with another type.

The book was not easy to read. I needed quite some time to get into the flow of the story. I liked what I’ve read, but the chapters at some point were a bit long. The tone of the book reminded me multiple times to Any Rand (once again ;-)). But the message is not quite the same โ€“ I think. I quite liked the following message from Shevek near the end of the book:

Freedom is never very safe.


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