Bill Paley (mycroftca) wrote,
Bill Paley
mycroftca

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.
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