Can a sci-fi novel make for a good book club book? We find out with The Left-Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin. The novel is set on a planet called Winter where all the inhabitants are all of neutral gender. Much like Earth they are unaware of life in the universe beyond their own planet and so when an envoy from an interplanetary coalition arrives, one who identifies permanently as male, moreover, they feel threatened and mistrustful.
The book is known as a groundbreaking work of feminist science fiction, posing questions about sexuality, sexism and the organisation of society. It is also a long, immersive read, but what did Laura’s book club, mostly sci-fi newbies, make of it?
From fantasy dystopia to the real world, we also tackle Secondhand Time, Svetlana Alexievich’s history of life in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. Consisting of a series of interviews conducted with a variety of people who lived through the collapse of the Soviet union, the author has since won a Nobel Prize for her work and inventing a new literary genre. It’s an emotionally challenging read on a difficult subject, but did Kate’s book club find it rewarding? Listen in to find out.
For our regular book club interview 88-year old Anne Thompson about tells us about her favourite literary discoveries thanks to her book club.
After the discussion keep listening as we recommend books for your book club based on The Left-Hand of Darkness and Secondhand Time.
- The City and the City by China Mieville
- Kiln People by David Brin
- Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns, Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
- Hyperion by Dan Simmons
- The Earthsea Quartet: Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atman, The Farthest Shore, Tehanu by Ursula Le Guin
- Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich
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