The Left Hand of Darkness is a visionary sci-fi story about a lone human ambassador to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants’ biology allows them to choose—and change—their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter’s inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely different culture that he encounters. Exploring psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness is as a landmark achievement – especially considering that it came out in 1969!
In this episode, I examined how despite being very slow-paced (or, perhaps, because of this), Le Guin’s novel is incredibly engaging. Enjoy!
Science fiction space operas are stories told at an epic scale. How can you make such a vast world accessible to readers? How can you ground these fantastical and strange new worlds in a sense of realism?
Balancing the epic with the human is perhaps the greatest strength of Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (first book in The Expanse). Today’s show dives deep into analysing how characters are they key to guiding readers through epic stories.
A Canticle for Leibowitz is a 1959 post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel by Walter M. Miller Jr. It’s often described as one of the first post-apocalyptic stories. Without it, there would be no Book of Eli, The Stand, or most other post-apocalyptic tales.
Don’t just take my word for it. It won the 1961 Hugo Award – one of science fiction’s highest honours. Legendary scientist Carl Sagan described it as: “so tautly constructed, so rich in the accommodating details of an unfamiliar society that [it] sweep me along before I have even a chance to be critical”.
It’s a remarkable novel. I don’t have the space in one episode to fully analyse it, so today I’m focusing on just one thing: how it uses an unconventional structure to explore the theme and emotionally gut-punch readers. Enjoy!
After Dale from The Reading Gorilla podcast sent in a listener request, who was I to ignore it? This is an episode about Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi classic, Ender’s Game. Specifically, I examine how he crafted such an amazing twist. Enjoy!
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