The Dispossessed

An Ambiguous Utopia

Hardcover, 387 pages

English language

Published Aug. 14, 1991 by Harper Paperbacks.

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5 stars (8 reviews)

Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life. Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian planet, Anarres, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change.

33 editions

I only had one problem with it

4 stars

Content warning Spoliers

Le Guin is a fucking genius

5 stars

This book blew. My. Mind. I'm serious, for this alone Ursula K Le Guin became my fav sci-fi author, leaps and bounds above anybody else. She showed me what you can do with science fiction, how you can break the limits of the imagination. It is the first time I actually managed to picture a non-hierarchical society and it is so real, so visceral, that things clicked and I realized that "wait, this is possible!?" And she does that with a completely made up story set in two completely made up societies, both fleshed out with their greatness and infamy, their ideologies and contradictions.

It is NOT an easy read: Le Guin happily forces your brain to do some mental gymnastic, where things don't make any sense until a few pages later when they suddenly, perfectly do, things click in place and your mind is blown.

It is the book …

Holy fuck

5 stars

Wow. What else is there to say? This book was a buffet of ideas ranging from sexism, capitalism, socialism, the military-industrial complex, and politics. I especially enjoyed Le Guin's writing on women, but anarchist and archist, through the eyes of the anarchist main character. For the first few chapters I was amazed at Le Guin's interpretation at an anarchist utopian, and took it as a blueprint for the work we socialists have to do here on Earth. But as the book progressed we learned more about the so-called utopia and it's possible fault -- one of which being politics and the formation of government--and I finished the book with more questions than answers. This was a delightful and nerdy read.

One of the books I want to keep returning to

5 stars

I first read this book 20 years ago in a German translation and liked it a lot, but I didn't get a lot of it. Now, reading the English original and having had more of a political education, at first I was: "Is this book as good as I remember it?", but then, I enjoyed it even more.

I love that it's not an unbroken utopia and the ending leaves some things open. I also liked how it shows how power-laden relationships and positions can inadvertently creep back into a society that's not supposed to have them.


  • Science Fiction - General
  • Fiction
  • Fiction - Science Fiction