As seen on Stumptown Books
Don't throw anything when I tell you this was my first Le Guin novel.
I know I know, for someone who has loved fantasy and sci fi literally MY ENTIRE LIFE, I only just this month sat down and read something by Le Guin. How did I even manage that?
Well suffice it to say, I know I really need to read more of her stuff. The Lathe of Heaven
was good. Like, really good. As in I couldn't put it down and I talked about it to all my friends and family, including my mom who said "Oh yeah! Le Guin! She's great!" My mom has never mentioned the name Le Guin in my presence before this, how did I never know she had even heard of her, let alone liked her?
It helps immensely that Lathe
takes place in Portland. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy when I read things about my hometown, and here is a giant of the genre deigning to write a book where all the action occurs in its hallowed valley. I had no idea this was the case when I picked up the book, and so it was a thoroughly pleasant surprise. Actually, I didn't know ANYTHING about this book, and that's probably part of what made it so good. In the same way it was best to know absolutely nothing about Inception
before going into the theater (I remember convincing my family to go and saying, "it's about dreams...or something?"), the same principle holds true for this. So I'm going to try to not write too much about the story.
Given, the actual writing wasn't all that great. I would almost classify this as an "experimental" novel. She was more interested in getting the ideas and then the subsequent morality down than writing a book with amazing characters. It's just not that much about the characters in the story, as what they do with the powers they have. I LOVE stuff like this. If you're a fan of comic books at all, this should be a must read for you, because it explores the morality of trying to do the "right" thing with superpowers.
I love the idea of the butterfly effect. Movies like Run, Lola, Run
get my jollies going because I think about that sort of stuff all the time. And here it is, very eloquently packaged in a short, simple novel. Unfortunately, this one can be seen as incredibly depressing. Woe to the person who thinks they can improve the world; there is too much world to improve, and you're just gonna mess it up. Every time.
P.S. This book was originally published in 1971, but takes place in the year 2000-ish. The setting is Portland, and she talks about seeing "the perfect cone of Mt. St. Helens." That mountain, of course, erupted in 1980, before I was born, and I had never seen a picture of it. I'm going to include a picture here because DAMN, that was a beautiful mountain.