Monthly Archives: August 2019

Ep019 The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin

Cosmic unity. The Left Hand of Darkness follows the interstellar traveler Genly Ai as he tries to persuade the inhabitants of Winter, an unusually cold planet, to join an interstellar confederation of planets. From Genly’s perspective the inhabitants of Winter are examined and their culture and sexuality are placed under a microscope. In this episode of Leave It To The Prose, Isaac and Reid discuss the society of Winter, a modern perspective on the gender norms presented, and the drama played out by the two main characters of the story.

Works Mentioned

  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin (major spoilers)
  • Foundation by Isaac Asimov

World Building

Ursula K Le Guin is a master of science fiction, and The Left Hand of Darkness is considered one of her masterpieces. This book takes the structure of alternating every other chapter with a report from Genly Ai, and from his perspective we explore the lore, biology, and social structures of Winter. As we, the readers, explore Le Guin’s plot we also explore more of her world. Aspects of the story become more clear as we understand the lore and world building aspects of Winter.




Ep018 Semiosis

Semiosis by Sue Burke

What will alien life look like? Sue Burke answers this question in an innovative fashion: plant life. In a collection of seven stories told across one hundred years Burke tells a first contact story of humans meeting and existing with sentient plants. Our book discussion delves into Burke’s old planet of Pax, as the Pacifists grow their society, communicate with the locals, and eventually have to deal with previous inhabitants of their new environment. 

Reid and Isaac break down the book into the seven short stories presented to the reader. We discuss how the characters grow, the conflict develops, and how this story of first contact is more than just an alien interaction story. Life on another planet is difficult, and Burke develops the many factors that contribute to the survival of a colony on a far away planet.

Works Mentioned

  • Semiosis by Sue Burke (spoilers)
  • Arrival / Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang
  • Foundation  by Isaac Asimov
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Bridesmaids 2011 movie

First Contact on an Alien World

Semiosis is more than a contact story. Semiosis is equal parts communication and connecting with aliens as much as it is communicating and connecting with a growing society. The Pacifists of Pax have to work with each other and plants. Getting along and the social structures that develop in a far away planet can become just as complicated at the world the Pacifists left.