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Darkness Is Ambidextrous (an Overview of the Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin, and a Poem)

Updated on July 10, 2018
Jodah profile image

John is a long-time poet, short fiction, and article writer. He studied a Writing for Profit course through ICS but loves story-telling.

Source

Title Already Taken

Welcome to another of my 2016 articles inspired by the titles of Ursula Le Guin novels. This is number nine in the series so far.

As with most in the series I was going to give the hub the same name as the book "The Left Hand of Darkness" but unfortunately the hubtool editor told me that title was already taken (even though a search of HubPages didn't reveal another hub with that name). So being the easy going guy I am I changed the name :)

I hope you enjoy "Darkness is Ambidextrous."

Original cover design: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin
Original cover design: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin | Source

The Left Hand of Darkness (overview)

The Left Hand of Darkness is a science fiction novel published in 1969 by Ursula K. Le Guin. It is the second novel in a series called the Hainish Cycle and is among the first books published in the feminist science fiction genre. It is also considered the most famous examination of androgyny in science fiction.

In 1970, The Left Hand of Darkness won "best novel" in both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, an accolade given by the convention participants and other science fiction writers. In the 1975 Locus magazine Poll & Survey covering "novels", The Left Hand of Darkness placed third behind Frank Herbert's Dune (1965) and Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End (1963). In 1987 Locus ranked it at second among "All-Time Best SF Novels", after Dune.

Also in 1987, Harold Bloom said in a critical anthology about the book and said in the introduction: "Le Guin, more than Tolkien, has raised fantasy into high literature, for our time." (source: Wikipedia)

Fellow hubber Besarien says, "The Left Hand of Darkness is one of my favorite novels in any genre."

"The story is set in the fictional Hainish universe, which Le Guin introduced in her first novel Rocannon's World, published in 1966. In this alternative history, human beings did not evolve on earth, but on Hain. The people of Hain colonized many neighboring planetary systems, including Terra (Earth) and Gethen (Winter) around a million years prior to the setting of the novels. Some of these groups that "seeded" each planet were the subjects of genetic experiments, including on Gethen."

The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of Genly Ai a lone human emissary (from Terra) sent to Gethen, an alien world whose inhabitants can choose -and change - their gender at certain times. His goal is to facilitate Gethen's (Winter's) inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must find middle ground between his own views and those of the totally different culture that he encounters.

Embracing many aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction. (source: Goodreads)

If you are a science fiction fan like me I hope you are now tempted to read this book by Ursula Le Guin and the others in the Hainish Cycle series. I have only begun reading her books in recent years and am sorry I didn't discover them earlier.

Source

The Right Hand of Darkness

He does his master's bidding

No matter what the cost,

But all the riches he has gained

Are not worth what he's lost.


He drips in gold and money,

Much more than he can count.

Sex and drugs on offer

Like a never-ending fount.


To attain these worldly riches

He offered up his soul,

No thought of what may lie ahead,

Fulfilling Satan's goal.


He thinks he is invincible

In this short Earthly life.

Rape, assault and murder,

Expert with gun and knife.


Source

Cheating and deceiving

Are talents he has honed.

Evil deeds excite him,

But one day he'll atone.


What awaits us after death?

Imagine if you can.

But I don't think there's any doubt

For the Devil's right-hand man.


Source

© 2016 John Hansen

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    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      5 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Gilbert, thank you for reading this and for your comment. Oh, I wasn't aware Ursula had passed away. I obviously haven't been keeping myself informed. I appreciate you sharing that sad news.

    • rebelogilbert profile image

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      5 months ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      Nice poem, John. I recently read a huge anthology on the works of Ursula Le Guin. I felt bad to learn from a book tribute of her works on the library table that she had passed away. I'm a big fan of her Earhsea trilogy books. I remember reading "The Left Hand of Darkness," several years ago.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks for reading this, Alyssa, and good to see another Le Guin fan. I wrote about ten hubs using the titles of her books as prompts, and was pleased with the results. I too hope others are inspired to read her novels.

    • Alyssa Nichol profile image

      Alyssa 

      2 years ago from Ohio

      She remains one of my favorite authors. Great post! I hope others are inspired to check out her selection of novels.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Larry, the feeling is mutual.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Always a pleasure to read your writing.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Shauna for that wonderful comment. I am taking a break from the Le Guin inspired hubs for the moment. I may return to do a few more later in the year.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 years ago from Central Florida

      I'm not a sci-fi fan, but I enjoy this series of reviews and poems dedicated to the author nonetheless. You can make anything sound interesting, John!

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Deb, I really appreciate that encouraging comment.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      When I think that you have outdone yourself, you always tend to come up with something more. Bravo!

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Ann, thank you for the generous comment regarding the Poem. I am also glad that you are tempted to read "The Left Hand of Darkness" even though you aren't into sci fi. I must be doing something right :)

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      2 years ago from SW England

      Superb poem and you make Le Guin's book a tempting read, though I'm not usually a sci-fi reader. It's an intriguing idea that is presented here.

      Great hub and your poetry always delights.

      Ann

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for the generous comment Vellur. So glad that my overview inspired your interest in the book too. Cheers.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      2 years ago from Dubai

      A great introduction to the book and a great poem. Reading your overview has got me interested in this book, will read.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      I appreciate your wonderful comment Genna. When I couldn't have the title I wanted I decided to be a bit of a "smarty pants" and came up with this as well as making the title of my poem "the Right Hand of Darkness." It probably won't do well in Google searches, but so be it. Thank you for your kind words about the poem, and I hope you do manage to read Ursula Le Guin's book. Sounds like it was quite ground breaking when first published.

    • profile image

      Surabhi Kaura 

      2 years ago

      Thank you, my Dearest Jodah. I truly appreciate your advice. To me, you will always be a great fiction writer on HubPages. You are beyond compare. Now I won't take much time here. Much Love. Take care.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      What an captivating title, John. I am a science fiction fan also, and am always on the lookout for good writing in this genre. I really liked your poem. "But one day he'll atone...." I believe this as well. The photos are terrific accompaniment to your words.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Surabhi, if you want my advice for what it is worth, don't pursue a career that your heart isn't in. Become a qualified lawyer for sure, so that you have that to fall back on. You have so much talent as a creative writer, I am sure you will be successful. It would be a shame if you don't make that your career. I wish I had started writing at your age and I could have turned it into a career I loved. I think you will be a much greater fiction writer than myself. Hugs back.

    • profile image

      Surabhi Kaura 

      2 years ago

      Aww. Jodah, thank you so much, my Dear. It was my licensing exam to practice law with Dad. I am sure I did well though. The result will be declared in April. But you know something, I feel like I am not made for law. I feel suffocated when I go to Courts. I feel freedom in my room with my lamp, diary and pen on the table. I am more interested in the world of Creative Writing. Let's hope that I become a great fiction writer like you one day (Smile). I saw your loftiest feedback. It made my day :) You are such a sweetheart!!! Hugs. Hugs. Hugs!!

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      So glad your exam is over Surabi, and hope you get top marks. Good to have you back at HubPages. Thank you for reading this hub and glad you loved my poem. thank you also for writing that wonderful poem for me. I left a comment on your hub. Love ya back.

    • profile image

      Surabhi Kaura 

      2 years ago

      Thank you for the review, Jodah. Loved your poem! I am now free with my exam and it feels nice to be back in the company of brliiant writers here on HubPages. Love ya!

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for reading this, Tim, and for the generous comment and glad the poem led you to some internal contemplation. I do hope you have the time to read some of Ursula Le Guin's books.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 

      2 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Thank you for sharing this gift with words Jodah. Many gifts really as seems their is answer for new books to read in a favorite genre. I look forward to her works. I am just now renewing that along with writing again. The poem remains with me now with contemplation inwardly with mysteries unfolding. Thank you for those revelations I ponder now.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Same here Mike, I wish I had discovered her earlier. I have got good value out of writing hubs from her book titles but not sure I can do many more..some of the title left are a little ambiguous, besides I think my readers may be getting sick of everything I write seeming to promote her books :)

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Shyron, thanks for reading and your kind comment. A bit late to put my poem in a book written 5 years ago, although there could be a new addition I guess :) Who would have thought you like poetry? Blessings.

    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 

      2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      It seems as though I missed a lot by not discovering Ursula Le Guin during my SiFi days. It sounds as though I would have enjoyed the work.

      Your poem fit well here. Nice blend of review and poetry - this Le Guin idea is working for you.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      2 years ago from Texas

      John, great poem, I am like Ruby, sci-fi is the least interesting reading, but you did the author proud, and if I were her I would put your poem in my book.

      Did I ever tell you I love poetry.

      Blessings and hugs my friend

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you very much Abhimanyu gaur. Blessings.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks Eric, you are too kind. I hope only a tiny bit of that Prince of Darkness is in you. I guess most of us have at some time strayed along those lines.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks Frank....glad you like my poems..mostly too :)

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hey manatita bro, thanks for that comment about the left and right..spot on. Cheers for your commentary on the poem too.

    • profile image

      Abhimanyu gaur 

      2 years ago

      Amazing poem I enjoyed reading it.

    • profile image

      Abhimanyu gaur 

      2 years ago

      Amazing poem I enjoyed reading it.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Great poem. I really liked how it flowed. The subject matter and how you project it is awesome.

      I could not help but think while reading it that a piece of that prince of darkness is even in me.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      2 years ago from Shelton

      Hey Jodah, the review was complete.. well done.. the poem goes places we can't predict then goes further.. that's why I enjoy reading your poetry.. mostly..:)

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      2 years ago from london

      Funny Bro, right at the beginning, I was thinking that we attribute so much darkness to the left hand, a bit like we do with 'black' or 'blackness.' Then I get to your poem and you speak of the 'right.' How charming! How appropriate in terms of money, power and some of your other examples.

      An excellent poem, and a very vivid account of the power of darkness over us, in creating this alluring illusion of corruption and Greed. Peace!

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Chitrangada. Yes I have written a lot about Ursula Le Guin because all my hubs this year have used her book titles as inspiration, even though I haven't read them all. I am doing a good job promoting her though..maybe she should be paying me :) Glad you found the review interesting and the poem enjoyable. Thanks.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Excellent hub and an interesting read!

      You have written a lot about Ursula Le Guin in your hubs. I am curious to read one of her books. Your poem is beautifully expressed as always.

      A good review and a wonderful poem ---What a combination!

      Thank you for sharing!

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Dana, I am glad my review on Ursula's book is making it sound appealing, even to non sci-fi fans. I'm always glad to hear you loved my poem.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for your continued support and encouragement Theresa. Always happy to hear you like my poetry too. It seems a few of us are being directed to work on writing projects along a common theme at present. Jackie Lynnley told me she is almost ready to publish something similar to my poem as well. Looking forward to your finished project. Hugs and blessings back.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 

      2 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      I haven't read much in science fiction but I will say your review made the book seem quite interesting. And, I absolutely loved the poem. "The devil's right-hand man indeed"

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      2 years ago from southern USA

      Both titles are really cool, John ...maybe it is the actual book HP is referring to? Who knows ...

      Great review and you are increasing my interest in Ursula's work via your hubs.

      Wow, your poem is off the charts amazing, John! It is always the best part of this series in my mind.

      I've been working on a two creative writing projects and one is along these lines too, and I hope to get them ready to publish soon. I have enjoyed working on them.

      Hugs and blessings

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Missy, thank you for the praise of my poetry. It is always my favourite part of any hub I write. I must warn you though, my poems in no way reflect the content or storylines of Ursula's books. It is great if it inspires you to read them however. Hugs.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Glad I helped to make your Tuesday afternoon pleasurable Bill. Thanks for the kind comment too. It is Wednesday morning here and the roosters are crowing.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Same here Diana, for instance I don't like Star Wars or Star Trek butI like Dr Who, Lost in Space etc. it is the same with books..love some sci fi authors like Robert Silverberg and Ursula Le Guin and not others. Thanks for the praise of my poetry.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks for the great comment Jo. We all enjoy different genres, actually I like a bit of everything, but I do hope you check out Ursula Le Guin. I have only started reading her books recently but find them intriguing.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Swalia. I hope you take a look at some of her books. This genre doesn't appeal to everyone but I hope you enjoy her work. Yes, unfortunately a lot of people don't give the afterlife a thought o believe their is anything after this lif on earth.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      MizB, it is hard to believe this book is almost 50 years old. The concepts of sexuality etc portrayed must have been very controversial at the time. Like you I will have to read the hole series starting with Rocannon's World.

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 

      2 years ago from Florida

      Hey John, I do, of course, like all you write in explaining Ursula's books, but I love it when I get to your poetry. I think your poem is what makes me want to read the books. A gripping poem, that is full of intrigue. :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Two things: I always appreciate a good book recommendation, and I always appreciate your poetry. So you have doubled my pleasure this Tuesday afternoon, and I thank you.

    • Diana Lee profile image

      Diana L Pierce 

      2 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      I like some types of Sci Fi better than others. I'm not sure how well I could follow this authors work, but you make her sound interesting. I enjoy your poetry.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 

      2 years ago from Tennessee

      I've always been an avid reader, but never a science fiction fan. My youngest daughter, though, was a huge fan beginning in elementary school, so I'm very familiar with the genre. And, I must admit, this book sounds fascinating. In any genre, it's so good to find an author you really like and lose yourself in their books. I may have to try this one.

    • swalia profile image

      Shaloo Walia 

      2 years ago from India

      You have written so much about Ursula Le Guin in your hubs that I am intrigued to pick up one of her books. I liked the poem in the end.

      "What awaits us after death?" - Only if people give this question a serious thought, they would never resort to misdeeds.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James-MizBejabbers 

      2 years ago from Beautiful South

      John, as I've said before, I'm a scifi/fantasy fan. I read this particular Le Guin book so long ago that I've forgotten the story. Thanks for reminding me because I haven't read the series and may go back and read it, or at least I think I haven't read all of the Hain books. I like your poetic rendition of the devil's man, though, and I hope Karma catches up with him first.

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      It is always good to get a comment from you Cris, and a wonderful one at that. Thank you so much from the land down under, and I wish you safe flying.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 

      2 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Brilliant and very fascinating indeed!

      This is like getting a promo: Buy One Take Two --for getting a good review and a wonderful poem combined. Two thumbs up! :)

      Love from the skies of the great north! ~

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for he great comment Jackie. It seems some higher force is directing our thoughts in a parallel direction at the moment, doesn't it Jackie? You have mentioned before that we seem to have a lot in common and recently we have been on the same wavelength with our writing. I look forward to reading what you come up with about the "evil one."

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Someone probably has the title but hasn't published yet. You could have used it and added a word or so probably.

      I am a johnny come lately Sci-Fi fan and this does sound like it could hold my interest. (Although animal ones are my favorite.)

      Love the poem and again it seems we are on the same wave length as I am doing research and writing about that evil one's domain!

      Great job as always!

    • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you Ruby. I appreciate you reading and commenting even though you don't like science fiction. Have a great day.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I must admit that science-fiction is my least favorite genre, but you did this book justice with your review. I loved your poem which was excellent.

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