The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin – Dystopian Books Review

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Review, Synopsis, and Summary of Science Fiction Novel The Lathe of Heaven

The Lathe of Heaven is published by an exceptionally talented American author named Ursula Kroeber Le Guin. The author received inspiration for the title of this book by the work of Chuang Tzu, a Chinese philosopher of the 4th century. This book won the Locus Award for the best novel in 1972. Later it transformed into a 1980 film and a remake in 2002.

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Author: Ursula K. Le Guin

Genre: Science fiction, fantasy fiction                      

Pages: 184

Good reads rating: 4.11 of 5

My Rating: 8.1 of 10

Published: 1971

Publisher: Avon books

Language: English

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Review and Summary of The Lathe of Heaven

***Warning Spoilers Below This Point***

The future story took place in Portland, Oregon, and the year is 2002. The writer sketches the condition of the world where war prevails in the Middle East and global warming took over the lives of every individual. She further writes about the situation of the city and it rains almost every time and because of overpopulation, many Portlanders suffer and face malnourishment.

The main story revolves around a thirty-year-old man named George Orr who received supernatural power of changing reality with his dreams and after it changes the reality no one but only he remembers the past. He came to know about his weird power when he was young and once dreamt of his aunt dying in an accident and it happened.

Terrified and afraid of his power, he started taking pills to avoid dreams and became highly overdosed and suicidal. Somehow he recovered, and the doctors gave him the options of whether to become clean and undergo a psychiatric rehab or they will throw him in an asylum. Leaving Orr with no other choice, he opted for the rehab session with a psychiatrist and sleep researcher Dr William Haber.

As the story proceeds, Orr told Haber about his psychic power, at first the doctor did not believe him but after many sessions, talks and tests he gradually changed his mind. He started treating Orr and to look at what is happening in Orr’s brain, he used his EEG machine. Here he called it the Augmentor which shows the brain activity of Orr when he sleeps and dreams. It displayed shocking results to the doctor, and he became greedy and started using Orr to control the world. Also to make it a better place, which reflects the ideas of a utopian world.

Through his hypnotic and manipulating abilities and with the help of the Augmentor, Haber made Orr dream of a world where there is no racism, the population is under control and unity prevails. Orr’s dreams controlled these in their own way by giving everyone the light greyish skin colour because and many mixed races stopped existing. For controlling the population, a deadly plague sets in and wipes out most of the population. For the world’s unity, an alien invasion on the moon started. Orr became frustrated with all this and wanted to escape from Haber’s meddling so he hired a lawyer named Heather Lelache. He asked her to help him get away from Haber’s unjust controlling and using Orr for his lust for power.

Heather accepted to help Orr after listening to his story, and with her hypnotising abilities tried to make things better for him. She made him dream that aliens are no longer on the moon, but resulted in an alien invasion of Earth instead. This lead to so much disaster and havoc in the world. They return to Haber and he made his dream that the aliens become peaceful and the conditions change to normal. The aliens and the humans started living together during this time. Orr falls in love with Heather and marries her. But the doctor’s lust for changing things did not change. He somehow took the Orr’s ability to change reality to himself and started changing things with his dreams.

One time Orr get in touch with the aliens and they told him how to get away from Haber. So, he finally received control of the things and turns off the Augmentor.

The world returns to normal but some bits of the past reality from Orr’s dreams existed, for example, the aliens on earth. Dr Haber becomes schizophrenic and admitted to the asylum. Orr started working as a draft’s man in a shop owned by an alien. Heather returned as a lawyer, but she has no thoughts of Orr or their past. The book ends with Orr and Heather meeting again and Orr trying to gain her love again.

Final Say on The Science Fiction Novel The Lathe of Heaven

The book was a subtle reflection of Le Guin’s thoughts and ideas putting light on all the major issues. Also, the issues the world faces from day one like wars, racism and misuse of nuclear energy and technologies. It also reflects the nature of mankind to obtain power, wealth and popularity to the expense of others. I rate this book: 8.1 out of 10. Would I re-read this novel? Yes. Am I glad I read it? Yes.

For The Latest Price: The Lathe of Heaven

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Max Atlas
Max Atlas
I am Max Atlas; my only mission is to raise awareness of Dystopian fiction and share in a collective awakening. Together we will explore not only the best Dystopian Novels ever written but also new and upcoming Authors, giving future greats a platform to share their Dystopian Worlds.