The Lathe of Heaven

Ursula K. Le Guin

Book cover

Enjoyable, but not nearly up to the high standard set by “The Dispossessed.” Unlike that other novel, this one felt too much to me like it had a message it was trying to send, rather than an issue it was trying to explore. The message of TLOH, which is reinforced by the chapter epigrams from Zhuangzi, is that the interventionist impulse can lead to trouble, and that “non-doing” (wu wei) is often the wisest course of action. For me though, the protagonist, George Orr, was not an engaging enough character. He never seemed to struggle with the temptation that would very likely come with a “superpower” like his. The book is very much the virtuous patient versus the misguided psychiatrist. This was in stark contrast to “The Dispossessed,” which I thought did a great job of exploring what an anarchist society might be like, both the good and the bad.

My Goodreads rating: 3 stars