Book Reviews,  Classics,  Science Fiction,  Speculative Fiction

Book Review: The Lathe of Heaven

The Lathe of HeavenThe Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a future world racked by violence and environmental catastrophes, George Orr wakes up one day to discover that his dreams have the ability to alter reality. He seeks help from Dr. William Haber, a psychiatrist who immediately grasps the power George wields. Soon George must preserve reality itself as Dr. Haber becomes adept at manipulating George’s dreams for his own purposes. — Back cover blurb

My introduction to The Lathe of Heaven was through the 1980 WNET (public television) film starring Bruce Davison, Kevin Conway, and Margaret Avery. I was blown away by the concepts presented and immediately searched out the book. Now, all these years later, I’ve re-read the story for my book club. I also rewatched that movie version and was impressed to see that it still packed a punch. At the time I’m writing this review, you can still watch the WNET movie for free at YouTube.

This is a short novel, but Le Guin packs it full of twists and turns. In short order, we begin to question everything about the human condition and the bigger problems of life on earth… and beyond.

I was reminded of the old stories about the Genie in the bottle, who grants three-and only three-wishes. Countless folk have tried to craft the ultimate wish and trick the Genie into giving them more than promised, but ultimately, they always failed. Lathe teaches us that words carry power, and can be taken VERY literally.

Be careful what you wish for – you just might get it.

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Lori Alden Holuta lives between the cornfields of Mid-Michigan, where she grows vegetables and herbs when she’s not writing, editing, or playing games with a cat named Chives.

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