The rub indeed! George Orr is a bland, “average” man in a near future, not-so-dystopian but not-so-nice future Portland, Oregon. The remarkable thing that sets George apart is his ability to dream “effectively.” When he dreams effectively the world changes to conform to his dream. He cannot control how and why he dreams, but after he is placed in an obligatory relationship with a psychiatrist who can hypnotize and “suggest” dreams to George, someone can.
But is reality, in all its complexity and history, malleable to even the most benevolent dreams of rational men? You’ll have to read to form your own opinion, but the quote from which the novel’s title is derived offers a suggestion: “To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe of heaven.” Chaung Tse: XXII.
A powerful meditation on the Western ideals of rationality, development, science, and human mastery over nature, Le Guin’s Lathe of Heaven is a thought-provoking, brief, summer dream.
Rating: If heaven is for real, then surely the Lathe of Heaven is also the real deal. Take head Chaung Tse’s warning.
Availability: USMAI and COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Shane D. Hall
Rating: Highly Recommended