Astonishing Tales Of Our Times
1st February 2018
January 2018 saw the passing of one of science-fiction's greatest philosophers, Ursula K. Le Guin. Her two most celebrated novels – The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) and The Dispossessed (1974) – not only displayed a great talent for world-building and mythologising but also raised the bar, both literarily and intellectually, on what science-fiction could be: the former exploring the social and personal implications encountered in a society where gender roles are literally interchangeable; the latter detailing the cultural chasm between two diametrically opposed societies: one the ultimate realisation of the capitalist ideal, the other an extreme manifestation of social anarchy.
In a world where socially prescribed notions of identity are rapidly disintegrating and where, election after election, we see left and right consistently opposing each other in near equal numbers, to call her ideas prescient would be a rather bold understatement. What, then, of the writers who followed in her wake? What of those who went before? Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate this often slighted genre and see if we might not find some valuable insight into how we are living our lives, hints at where we're heading and perhaps some sage advise about what we should do – and, indeed, what we should not – when we get there.