Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Five inhospitable planets

Kelly Jensen is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. Her latest novel is To See the Sun.

Jensen tagged five inhospitable planets in film and fiction at Tor.com, including:
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

This is not the first book of Le Guin’s I ever read, but the one I remember the best. I find the themes of gender identity refreshingly challenging. But when I talk about The Left Hand of Darkness, I usually end up describing the part where Genly and Estraven spend eighty days traversing the northern Gobrin ice sheet. The environment is unspeakably harsh and Le Guin makes it enthralling. I could feel the fat melting away from Genly and Estraven as they balanced their daily calorie expense against necessary exertion. I shivered when I learned that it doesn’t snow when the temperature drops below a certain threshold. I didn’t ever want to know how cold that must be.

Not lost on me was the fact that the beyond bitter cold was the backdrop for the most important part of the book—Genly and Estraven learning to trust each other. It’s similar to putting two adversaries in a remote cabin with only one way in and one way out—and blocking that entrance with a grizzly. Makes a good argument for even a temporary truce, doesn’t it?
Read about the other entries on the list.

The Left Hand of Darkness is among Ann Leckie's ten best science fiction books, Esther Inglis-Arkell's ten most unfilmable books, Jeff Somers's top five sci-fi novels that explore gender in unexpected and challenging ways, Joel Cunningham's top twelve books with the most irresistible titles, Damien Walter's top five science fiction novels for people who hate sci-fi and Ian Marchant's top 10 books of the night. Charlie Jane Anders included it on her list of ten science fiction novels that will never be movies.

--Marshal Zeringue