I go through the HarperCollins desk copy requests every morning, which has been a great introduction to the house’s extensive backlist. Having done this for about a year and a half, I have a sense of the books that get the most course adoptions: C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, among others. Most of the time, when I’m unfamiliar with a frequently requested book, I look it up. But one such popular book managed to slip my attention until last week, and I’m pretty embarrassed about it. I consider myself a huge dystopian sci-fi nerd, and this is one of the classics of the genre.
Ursula Le Guin’s Hugo and Nebula Award-winning The Dispossessed is the spellbinding story of Shevek, a brilliant physicist who single-handedly attempts to reunite two planets cut off from each other by centuries of distrust. Anarres, Shevek’s homeworld, is a bleak moon settled by an anarchic utopian civilization. Urras, the mother planet, is a world very similar to Earth, with warring nations, great poverty and immense wealth. In his quest, Shevek embarks on a courageous, unprecedented journey to Urras—to learn, to teach, to share. A penetrating examination of society and humanity, The Dispossessed follows one man's brave undertaking to question the unquestionable and ignite the fires of change.
Le Guin’s work is revolutionary in the science fiction genre, because many of her stories—starting in the 1960s—describe radically alternatives worlds in politics, natural environment, gender, religion, sexuality and ethnography. To check out The Dispossessed, please click here.