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The Left Hand of Darkness

BBC Radio 4 Full-Cast Dramatisation
Length: 1 hr and 53 mins
4 out of 5 stars (57 ratings)

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Summary

The first ever broadcast dramatisation of Ursula Le Guin's seminal science fiction novel.

On an alien world in the middle of an ice age, one man prepares for the biggest mission of his life. Alone and unarmed, Genly Ai has been sent from Earth to persuade the people of Gethen to join the Ekumen, a union of planets. But it's a task fraught with danger.

Genly is shocking to the natives, for Gethen is a world in which humans are ambigendered - everyone can be a mother, and everyone can be a father. First Minister Estraven is the only person who champions Genly's cause, but their relationship is deeply incomprehensible and troubling.

As the duo embark on a journey that will take them to the edge of their physical and emotional endurance, the stakes are high - to save a world from war and save their own lives.

Ursula Le Guin's award-winning masterpiece was one of the first feminist SF novels, and this compelling dramatisation is both a subtle exploration of gender and a thrilling tale of love, betrayal and survival in a landscape of endless snow and ice. It stars Lesley Sharp (Scott & Bailey), Toby Jones (Dad's Army) and Louise Brealey (Sherlock).

Duration: two hours approx.

©2016 Ursula Le Guin (P)2016 BBC Worldwide Ltd.

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Proper Science Fiction

No guns, no explosions, just concepts, snow, and writing. No more words are needed. none.

8 people found this helpful

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Engaging storytelling excellently adapting a great seminal novel

Superb retelling of Ursula K LeGuin’s novel. The acting is superb and conveys the misunderstandings of the masculine ambassador in a world where sexuality only flourishes every Kemmer-period. The use of story within the story and the short experience of spiritual encounter, encompasses the wealth and depth of what being human means. The author later regretted writing ‘he‘ as the pronominal form for the Gethians and this production, in using female actors in the main enables the strain and strangeness of being not just the alien but the one who is In permanent Kemmer to be realised. Excellent audio production.

1 person found this helpful

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beautiful but a bit confusing to follow

loved it but this it was a bit too abridged which made difficult to follow

2 people found this helpful

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  • Scott S
  • 20-10-16

This is not the full book

Wish someone else had wrote this in a review, I guess I spent more time looking for a review and not enough looking at the length. Only two hours. It's not bad, but obvious well short on details amd explanarion that must be in the book. As for performance, the dialogue was often read in a soft voice, dramatic maybe but harder to hear and understand than most audiobooks. I would rather be able to listen to someone just read the book than act it out as an audio play. My fauly I should have paid closer attention to the description.

19 people found this helpful

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  • theamazingcatherine
  • 02-03-17

I want to give this six stars

It's always difficult adapting a novel - what to keep, what to leave out, how to interpret character voices. This brought the beauty and the terror of the ice-crossing, and the complex relationship between Ai and Estraven, with a host of wonderfully living voices. Gorgeous. Gripping. Good show all around.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Scott K. Simpson
  • 28-10-16

Good, but not the novel

I like the dramatization, however there were parts not included which could've been with good effect. There is a particular chapter in the novel " The question of sex" which I think would've explained much more about the gethenians for those who hadn't read the novel.

1 person found this helpful

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  • T. Kaeff
  • 08-01-20

Faithful to the book.

My only complaint is that I am left wanting more. Well done, faithful to the novel.

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  • Scott Sexton
  • 10-05-19

Excellent performances of a very moving story.

Toby Jones as King Argaven shines in his brief portrayal. Loved hearing this excellent adaptation.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-12-16

Still a favorite of all time.

I love this book and this performance of it. Perfect! If only it could have been the full unabridged version.

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  • Eli
  • 09-07-16

meh

i expected more but left unimpressed. only one thing made me go woah. and that was the inability for gender changers to comprehend how non-changers view the opposite sex within their own culture.

2 people found this helpful