Control: The Left Hand of Darkness…
I, Dalton Lewis, sat in my room arguing my innocence with voices in my head. I was losing the argument. I was a crazy person, a nut, a mentally ill man in America. This is no joke or gag — I really do have paranoid schizophrenia. I wander through my home, thinking about screaming at the walls. I rant in my own head that I am innocent, that I have been framed, that I didn’t do it, that I am a good person, that I didn’t do those things. I hope that is true.
Oh, the reading. I read a book. It was called The Left Hand of Darkness, and it was written around 1969 by Ursula K Le Guin. It was about transgender people, or rather people who change gender depending on circumstances, or rather people who are usually androgynous until they decide what gender they should be, or something.
Genly Ai, the main character, is a male human envoy who visits an alien planet called Winter on behalf of a human space federation. Winter is a place that is cold all the time. He shows up and immediately is very confused — much like me reading any classic. I don’t know what they mean. What do they mean?! Fortunately wikipedia summarizes these things. In the novel Ai risks failing at court until a friend intervenes in his behalf. Estraven tries to talk to the king on Ai’s behalf, but the conversation with the king does not result in an alliance with the alien people like he wanted. Estraven is strangely exiled from court and Ai falls out of favor with the king.
Much of the novel describes the alien planet and alien people, and this reminds me of Tolkien in the way it shows a reality that is not ours in a realistic and believable manner. We grow to think of Winter as a place we know and care about as the story develops.
The novel develops an alien people very effectively. I really liked the way that the author created a people who don’t have all-out war or rape because they don’t have gender or the concept of war. They do mistreat their own people in some ways, though. More on that later.
Genly Ai travels to soothsayers and asks them if he will find his alliance. They try to answer his question and he doesn’t really believe that they can see the future. He then receives an invitation to go to another land: Orgota.
Orgota presents itself as a wonderful country that wants to have peace with the human space federation. They give him wonderful meetings and promise to help him. Then things go bad — very bad. He ends up in a bad situation with Estraven, and the two of them have to try to survive terrible peril. I really loved the connection between them and the fact that it didn’t turn into a conventional love story: just an unrequited kind of longing for each other. They face terrible conditions without superpowers or amazing fighting skills.
Not being sane means that I don’t understand everything or read every passage. That’s okay by me. I just understand that these people turn into guys or girls for two days of every month for sex. Courtship doesn’t really happen, and neither does rape. Neither does war. Other mistreatments do happen. I really liked the way an intelligent science fiction story could be written without a lot of action sequences. I really liked that they were trying to make peace with the aliens — that the goal was peace and not war.
Was this book interesting? Absolutely. If you like science fiction — real science fiction — or novels with interesting and well-developed characters then this novel is for you. Highly recommended.
And me? I’m sitting around my home. I’ve been role-playing the last few days, trying desperately to come up with interesting personalities for my PC’s and NPC’s, trying to make them less like boring normal people and more like unique and interesting characters. I’m also taking my meds and hoping that the voices admit my innocence. Fingers crossed.
Thanks, and take care, friends.
P.S. I wrote a novel called American Starfleet Independence. Check it out if you want. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B6WMW3MQ