Reviews

The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K. Le Guin

tanvi_214's review against another edition

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challenging reflective tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.5

shadesofpemberley's review

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fast-paced

4.25

mhall623's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging dark emotional mysterious sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

freewaygods's review against another edition

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adventurous dark mysterious reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.75

bev_reads_mysteries's review against another edition

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2.0

George Orr is afraid to dream. He has discovered that he has what he calls effective dreams. His dreams can change things. That pesky Aunt Julia who came to stay when he was seventeen? Suddenly she was gone and had never stayed with them at all. Not just vanished from their home--but dead in a car crash. That wasn't precisely what he wanted when he decided in his waking hours that he wanted her out of the house, but his subconscious seemed to think it an adequate solution and so he dreamed it. And it happened. And he was the only person who knew that it had ever been any different.

When George's fears reach the point that he is abusing his pharmacy privileges to try and prevent a dreaming state, he is referred to a psychiatrist for standard treatment. Dr. Haber begins by thinking he simply has to cure George of this irrational fear of dreaming. It isn't long before he realizes that George is right...his dreams can change the waking world. Haber decides to use George's unique power to make changes. He claims that it is for the greater good: to stop war, to prevent overpopulation, to wipe out hunger. But George becomes more and more uneasy with every change. Who has the power to decide what is best for all mankind? Who should have that power?

This should have been a very powerful book. The ideas behind it--just what is reality and who, if anyone, should have the power to shape it--represent very powerful and intriguing questions. However, I found the ideas getting lost in the psycho- and techno-babble that Dr. Haber spouts whenever he and George have a session. Talk of dream and sleep states and all the wondrous gadgetry of his Augementor (the machine that records and enhances George's dreaming powers), just weighed the story down. LeGuin can be an awesome writer (I love her Left Hand of Darkness and Always Coming Home), but I think she is at her best when she sticks with people--with the speculative stories of the human condition. Too much tech talk is definitely not her style. I would have appreciated more focus on George's struggle. And more straightforward discussion of the dream-power. And then to bring in the aliens and their alien terms for the power (which never get fully explained) didn't help matters at all. More explanation of how the aliens know about the dreaming power and how they helped George would have gone a long way. Two and a half stars.

ann_reads22's review against another edition

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3.0

Rating: 3.5 stars. I am not much of a sci-fi reader but I might post a review later.

04/20/2022 update:

I'm posting a short review before the details of the story begin to fade in my memory.

I enjoyed Le Guin's writing and the general premise of a person's dreams being able to alter the future is an interesting, yet very unsettling one. The story is much more sophisticated than that, as Le Guin interweaves some philosophical and ethical dilemmas into events as everything unfolds. In fact, sadly some of the darker aspects are very relevant to current events. I suspect some of Le Guin's underlying messages may have gone over my head, especially in my rush to complete the novel before it was due back. The weakest link in the story was the characterization. Although I was horrified by one person's intentions, I really did not really connect with any of the individuals. I was glad to have read this rather bizarre book once but I don't think I'd reread it again. I might consider trying one of Le Guin's other fiction novels in the future.

c1priano's review

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dark mysterious reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

There is a bird in a poem by T. S. Eliot who says that mankind cannot bear very much reality; but the bird is mistaken. A man can endure the entire weight of the universe for eighty years. It is unreality that he cannot bear.


vip1001's review

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adventurous challenging emotional hopeful informative mysterious reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0

shoshanafinkel's review

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adventurous dark mysterious reflective tense medium-paced

mssarahmorgan's review

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emotional tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0