I bought this book at Bookends in London this summer; but I didn’t get back to read it until now. Unfortunately page 187-234 is missing from my ex (ISBN is 1857988825, published by Clays Ltd (UK)). I have emailed the shop in the hope they will let me exchange it for one with all the pages. I don’t expect them to answer until after the holidays, it is Christmas Eve.
This book takes place in the Eukmen universe, it’s the fifth published but take place before the other books.
This is an excellent example of civics-social Science Fiction. The story focus much on the societies that frame it and the way they all restrict freedom. The protagonist Shevek is a scientist that work on a Unified Temporal Theory, a theory that makes ansibles (instant communication) possible over stellar distances.
The world building focuses on the almost Utopian socialist society on the desert planet Anarres and the mother planet Urras, with a cold-war like setup. Urras is dominated by two power blocks, one a socialist dictatorship and the other one is A-Io a capitalist state. Antarres was established after an uprising on Urras some 150 years ago, the rebels where bought off with a world of their own.
Le Guin uses two time frames to tell the story one chapter on the back story on Antarres the next chapter is on Urras.
Shevek feels like an outsider in Antarrian society and he also comes upon the Wall that limits what his society allows especially the academia. He is not allowed to publish his theory so he decides to go to to Urras to finish his work. On Urras he finds that he is being used.
Trivia:all names on Antarres is Five- or six-letter issued by central computer.
The Dispossessed also uses language as a tool for forming societies and the way people think. There are some other SF that uses languages in the same way: Languages of Pao by Jack Vance (love it, one of my favorites), Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany (also one of my favorites).
The linguistic relativity principle (also known as the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis) is the idea that the varying cultural concepts and categories inherent in different languages affect the cognitive classification of the experienced world in such a way that speakers of different languages think and behave differently because of it.
This is high quality Science Fiction. Le Guin doesn’t disappoint.