The Left Hand of Darkness
I had high hopes for this book after reading The Dispossessed but it ended up being a flop. I bailed out at 54%.
The pitch about a society where people have no fixed gender really got me excited but this theme does not unfold in the story in any interesting way. The fact that pretty much everyone is a “he” by default is annoying even (I know, I know, it was written in ‘69, gender neutral language was not invented yet).
Other than this gender thing, nothing else happens that would have kept me engaged. There is a cold planet named Winter and an envoy (sort of an ambassador) from the rest of the worlds that already form a union and this guy struggles to convince Winter to join.
Places, people and things have annoyingly hard to remember names, sometimes multiple. For instance “Mishorny. Streth Susmy.” is a place and date opening a diary entry.
A few quotes I liked:
On a world where a common table implement is a little device with which you crack the ice that has formed on your drink between drafts, hot beer is a thing you come to appreciate.
To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.
Burden and privilege are shared out pretty equally; everybody has the same risk to run or choice to make. Therefore nobody here is quite so free as a free male anywhere else.