Ben Smithgall

Welcome to the web blog

Software and data at Spotify. Previously with U.S. Digital Service and Code for America.





The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle #6)

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Finished reading on February 8, 2018

Of her many, many strengths, I think that perhaps the most underrated of LeGuin’s is her capacity to write about friendship and have her characters introspect about their weaknesses as people in non-obvious and non-story breaking ways. This book is deservedly famous for its treatment of gender, but I think that the last few chapters are where the book truly shines: we are all pitched in struggles with ourselves, each other, and our environment.

One other note: reading about Henry Worsley and Ernest Shackleton and their expeditions to the antarctic recently I was struck by the similarity of language used by the explorers and the characters in Le Guin’s writing. This certainly can’t just be coincidence.