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September 23rd, 2012


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04:00 pm - supposed to be an essay on LeGuin
In A Princess of Mars, a human arrives in an alien land, Mars, and learns of the various nations of this planet, carving out a place for himself via bloodshed and war. In so doing, he makes a place for himself, and apparently manages to impregnate his wife before being thrown back to Earth and Arizona, to his chagrin, before the child could even be hatched from its egg, and before he could have any hand in its rearing.

In The Left Hand of Darkness, a human arrives in an alien land, Gethen, and learns of the various nations of this planet, wandering amongst the nations, and being driven from place after place, a pawn of greater powers, and is rescued by an alien who is capable of either sex. Though there is some fighting, it does not lead to wholesale slaughter. There is also an offspring, real, not imagined, who is born to a close associate to the protagonist, but there is no hint that this could in any way be due to sexual congress between the protagonist and his deliverer. The human begins the process of educating this young one as part of his duty to prepare the way for Gethen to join the Ekumen, peacefully.

The former book was pulp fiction, written in fragments and thrown together to make a novel. The latter was a thoughtful piece of work, written as much as an anthropological tract about an alien people as it was an adventure on a strange world. Burroughs book was intended to excite, LeGuin's to provoke thoughts about what it means to be in a species which needs two sexes to procreate, and what that does to our society.

(10 comments | Speak, or forever hold your peace)

Comments:


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From:jamiethered
Date:September 24th, 2012 04:01 pm (UTC)
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I'm a big LeGuin fan, but for reasons still unclear to me I've never read The Left Hand of Darkness, which is one of her most famous works. I find her take on things interesting, if only because it;s different. I found Burroughs fun, but shallow. Having tried to read the entire series, I just couldn't complete it. It didn't hold my interest. I've never had that problem with LeGuin, though I can't claim to have read everything she wrote either.
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From:mycroftca
Date:September 25th, 2012 02:15 am (UTC)
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I can't argue that Burroughs is shallow; I never read *everything* he wrote, though I did finish the Mars series.

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From:cissa
Date:September 26th, 2012 07:36 pm (UTC)
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I've read pretty much everything LeGuin wrote; she's one of my favorites. I'm not a huge fan of "Left Hand", though I haven't re-read it in years and probably ought to. I LOVE "The Dispossessed", and "Always Coming Home".

I've only read a bit of Burroughs, and it was somewhat too Boy's Own Adventure! for me.
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From:jamiethered
Date:September 26th, 2012 08:30 pm (UTC)
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Really enjoyed The Dispossessed. Started Always Coming Home, but never got into it. Had something come up if I remember right and never got back to it.

Burroughs is one of the original "Thud and Blunder" novelists, like the early Conan the Barbarian novels.
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From:mycroftca
Date:September 26th, 2012 10:59 pm (UTC)
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Exactly. I think maybe he even pre-dates Conan.
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From:jamiethered
Date:September 27th, 2012 03:55 pm (UTC)
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I believe you're right.
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From:mycroftca
Date:September 28th, 2012 02:28 am (UTC)
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Well, I'm old enough to remember these things.
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From:mycroftca
Date:September 26th, 2012 10:59 pm (UTC)
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I've read the Earthsea books, and The Dispossessed, but I didn't care for The Left Hand of Darkness. I can understand your feeling on Burroughs' works.
supposed to be an essay on LeGuin - This ain't no party, this ain't no disco... — LiveJournal

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