Episode Four Just Dropped!


Episode four seems to have come together faster than the others…maybe there’s hope we could get good at this! Check out our latest on Ursula le Guin and the question: can we be Estraven?



  1. I think I had the same experience as you with The Left Hand of Darkness: the first part of the book didn’t really do much for me, but once Estraven and Genly started travelling together I got much more into it.

    I was a bit disappointed that you brought up asexuality and then dropped it again right away. On the one hand, you’re right that the Gethenians are very different from contemporary human asexuals. On the other hand, this kind of imaginative fiction portrayal is kind of the closest thing asexuals had to representation until very recently. I know when I read “Aye, and Gomorrah…”, I felt a certain affinity for the Spacers, and I’ve seen more than one grey-asexual use the Vulcan Pon Farr analogy to describe their sexuality.

    That said, such analogies are not perfect and may even be offensive to some. I guess when you have no representation, you latch onto anything you can find, even if it’s imperfect or carries unfortunate implications. Like, in the homophobic environment of the Victorian era, it may have been easy to read Jekyll&Hyde as a metaphor for closeted homosexuality, but in a more liberal age it’s like, WTF??? Gay = homicidal monster??? Chances are, the more representations of human asexuals we get in the media, the less incentive there will be to do asexual readings of extraterrestrial characters.


    • Thanks for your comment. Yeah, this was a hard one to parse out because the language just doesn’t line up. We also didn’t feel like we had enough knowledge to make an intelligent conversation about an asexual reading of the book. I’d be curious to hear if there are people who feel this is a productive reading. But also, you are exactly right that desperate searches for representation can lead us to cling to tropes that are lacking and demeaning. Like we said in the episode, it speaks to Le Guin’s talent and creativity that a book from 1969 has the ability to spark these kinds of conversations.

      Liked by 1 person

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