The Lathe of Heaven

The Lathe of Heaven

A Novel

Book - 2008
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A classic science fiction novel by Ursula K. Le Guin, one of the greatest writers of the genre, set in a future world where one man's dreams control the fate of humanity.

In a future world racked by violence and environmental catastrophes, George Orr wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist who immediately grasps the power George wields. Soon George must preserve reality itself as Dr. Haber becomes adept at manipulating George's dreams for his own purposes.

The Lathe of Heaven is an eerily prescient novel from award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin that masterfully addresses the dangers of power and humanity's self-destructiveness, questioning the nature of reality itself. It is a classic of the science fiction genre.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2008
Edition: Scribner trade paperback edition
Copyright Date: ©1971
ISBN: 9781416556961
Branch Call Number: SCI-FIC LEGUIN 2008
Characteristics: 184 pages ; 22 cm


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Jun 25, 2020

Woah. Like, woah.

Okay, let me first begin with genre. Science fiction, as a genre, is one I highly gravitate toward in film but not so much in books, with one exception. The science fiction novels that I love, aren't space operas nor do they lay out the scientific underpinnings of a scene. And that's fine, it's just not my cup of tea in books. Science fiction novels that I love get at the heart of what I believe science fiction has the most power to do, shine a light on humanity - what it means to be human, the many flaws and beauties of being human on this planet. It's there to teach us something about ourselves.

Enter The Lathe of Heaven, my first (and certainly not last) read of the late and brilliant, Ursula Le Guin. The Lathe of Heaven is the kind of story that not only aides as a mirror to humanity but it's so layered in what it has to say that one read is simply not enough. My mind is both blown and also, at this moment, too ill-equipped to see it all at once and yet I know what's there. I peel back a layer and my jaw is agape with awe. I let the story sit within me, let time pass thinking about it, and I am spellbound.

I really love coming across writers with such a wonder with words and ability to intertwine so much into a story that what is shown cannot be seen on first glimpse but needing to be really sat and stared at. I only give it four stars because of my own lack of incomprehension, not its. You might read this book and think it just a simple story about dreams. If so, I encourage you to let it sit longer and peel back another layers.

Feb 15, 2019

"Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven."-Chuang Tse

RyanR_KCMO Jan 25, 2019

This is the first of Le Guin's books that I have read. The fluid nature of reality in this work is really fun, especially when she faithful translates the experiences of the narrator in this fluid reality. Previously this year, I had only read a few translated works and a YA novel. Coming to this after that was a joy as Le Guin pulls no punches and lays into her skill at language. It was refreshing, while still taking me way too long to read a 184 page book. Fun interesting and engaging, This was real fun.

May 17, 2018

Published in 1971, this novel is certainly prescient about our world to-day. Are there any writers now who will be able to forecast what the world will be like in 2070 as well as Le Guinn has done? Recommended.

SCL_Justin Aug 05, 2017

Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven is an awesome bit of science fiction. There’s a man named Orr who sometimes changes reality in his dreams. No one else knows that anything has happened, but the guilt over the responsibility of shifting reality is too much for him, so he does too many drugs to stop sleeping, is caught and put into therapy. This is in the first few chapters. Then it gets interesting.

His therapist has a machine that makes Orr’s dreaming more regularized and controllable and then starts using him to radically reshape the world to better fit his idea of what would be better.

It’s an amazing Dickian conceit but less madly written. Highly recommended.

Dec 02, 2015

Fantastic book, SOOOO much better than the movie, which I loved. I always felt Heather's character in the movie was off, but blamed the actress, who was frankly, awful, but now I know her character had been drastically altered. They really should have left the story as is. By far her best I have read.

Nov 21, 2013

Leagues away from what I typically pick up, I can’t pretend to grasp all the ideas broached in this dystopian novel. Though the writing style I’ve come to associate with dystopias is unvarying, the beautiful imagery, often lucidly symbolic, make this book more accessible. Written 40 years ago, the themes and setting don’t feel dated, and indeed the ideas addressed are ones society still weighs today. Le Guin’s choice to set the novel in a real location makes the city’s state in the different continua seem more realistic and plausible. Le Guin’s novel is a stirring and engaging read.

jjd1986 Jun 04, 2012

It made me think of Inception, only more wild and less difficult to follow. Le Guin is a masterful writer and I find this book fun and fast. I read it only in a couple days. devoured it.

Jun 27, 2011

Wonderful book, great characters and an interesting way to approach sci-fi. I think this would complement anyone studying Taoism or thinking about the world today.


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RyanR_KCMO Jan 25, 2019

We're in the world, not against it. It doesn't work to try to stand outside thins and run them that way. It just doesn't work. It goes against life. There is a way but you have to follow it. The world is, no matter how we think it ought to be. You have to be with it. You have to let it be."

RyanR_KCMO Jan 25, 2019

What sane person would live in this world and not be crazy?

RyanR_KCMO Jan 25, 2019

He seemed to not know the uses of silence.


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