The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I don’t know what took me so long to read an Ursula Le Guin sci-fi novel, but I’m glad I finally did. The Lathe of Heaven starts off with George Orr, a seemingly ordinary guy with a very extraordinary talent: his dreams can change the universe. This talent of his is as far-fetched as super-powers go, but Le Guin eases readers into the world in baby steps so that you’re not saying to your self, "Oh my god, he just made pink elephants fly! This is too much!" She makes Orr’s talents make sense in the world without being overly technical in explanations. It just works.
Once I quickly came to terms with the world-shifting thing, the next prominent thing on my mind was social responsibility and morality. Haber, the psychiatrist who’s assigned to Orr has a very macro view of morality, while Orr has a conflicting view of it. Naturally, the two are at odds, but throughout the whole novel, I kept rooting for Orr even if it meant being content with a crappy world.
One thing I kept going back and forth on was whether Le Guin’s vision of the future was dated or eerily accurate. Some things she writes reminded me of an old Twilight Zone episode of the future, with flying cars and everything, while other things like conflicts between countries and races seemed very on the ball. I guess fighting in the middle east is pretty timeless.
Reading the Lathe of Heaven felt like reading several scifi books at once despite its short length. There was a near-apocalyptic world, a post-apocalyptic world, a dystopian world, aliens, flying cars, you name it. It was like a buy-two-get-one-free deal on scifi settings.