[ read online eBook ] The Lathe of HeavenAuthor Ursula K. Le Guin – Sharkmotorcyclehelmets.co.uk

George Orr Is A Man Who Discovers He Has The Peculiar Ability To Dream Things Into Being For Better Or For Worse In Desperation, He Consults A Psychotherapist Who Promises To Help Him But Who, It Soon Becomes Clear, Has His Own Plans For George And His Dreams The Lathe Of Heaven Is A Dark Vision And A Warning A Fable Of Power Uncontrolled And Uncontrollable It Is A Truly Prescient And Startling View Of Humanity, And The Consequences Of Playing God

10 thoughts on “The Lathe of Heaven

  1. says:

    When I first came across this book as a teenager, I think I only really noticed the surface story George Orr is a man whose dreams, literally, come true he dreams something, and when he wakes up the world has changed There s an unscrupulous psychiatrist who wants to exploit George s gift, a love story, some interesting aliens, and a good ending I really liked it I ve read it three or four times since then, and each time I ve appreciated it One could imagine a book with a similar plot being written by Philip K Dick, but, if Dick had done it, it would have had a different focus Le Guin is also interested in the arbitrary nature of reality, but she is above all a moral writer, and it s easiest to explain why I think The Lathe of Heaven is a great novel if I compare it with some of her other books Perhaps my favorite moment in her work is the ending of A Wizard of Earthsea Ged has been relentlessly pursued for years by the deadly Shadow, whose one purpose seems to be to destroy him and everything he cares for If only he could learn its true name, he would be able to use his magic powers to overcome it Finally, when he can run no further and is forced to confront it on the open sea, he realizes what he has knows all along The Shadow s true name is his own name He, himself, is the dark force that is trying to ruin his life The struggle with the dark forces inside oneself is one of Le Guin s main preoccupations This shades over into her fascination with creativity and the creative process, and in particular with the scientist, whose dreams can create reality in the most unexpected manner Einstein turned a dream of matter, energy, space and time into a reality which soon crystalized as nuclear weapons My Japanese friend Yukie, who studied in Hiroshima, met several people who had come directly into contact with Einstein s escaped dream In The Dispossessed, Shevek is a scientist who manages to control his dream Le Guin, who clearly understands scientists well, shows just how difficult this is for him He has to fight his society, and many of the ideas he has been brought up to believe in As in A Wizard of Earthsea, a lot of the time he also has to fight himself The Lathe of Heaven, published three years before The Dispossessed, is a kind of rehearsal for the later novel, but with a myth like treatment reminiscent of A Wizard of Earthsea George Orr s supernatural gift hands him a huge responsibility, which he is slow to accept Like most dreamers, he lets himself be manipulated And, just as in The Dispossessed, love is the key There, Takver s unquestioning love for Shevek is what makes it possible for him to unlock the Principle of Simultaneity here, the simple and touching romance with Heather is what gives George the strength to make the right decision when he reaches the crucial moment Dreams, truth, responsibility, love If you re interested in that kind of thing, you should consider reading The Lathe of Heaven Like all her books, it s beautifully written.

  2. says:

    To sleep, perchance to Dream Aye, there s the rub, For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come, When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause Ursula K LeGuin delivers a riveting but simple tale of a man whose dreams can affect and alter reality Told with an Arthur C Clarke like elegance and minimalism, but with her signature mastery of the language, LeGuin goes beyond an interesting concept and explores the ins, and outs, and what have yous of someone with God like, but mercurial powers Reminiscent of Frank Herbert at his best, this is a psychological thriller and a philosophical examination rolled up in a LeGuin gem.LeGuin s gift of descriptive narration is in full form in this 1971 publication that was nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula awards and won the Locus Award for Best Novel Her prose is stylish and beautiful Are there really people without resentment, without hate People who never go cross grained to the universe Who recognize evil, and resist evil, and yet are utterly unaffected by it I also loved the descriptive terms she used to describe Miss LeLache the lawyer, with words and phrases that made her appear menacing and bug like.LeGuin s protagonist is George Orr and he is another Shevik from The Dispossessed like character minimalistic, with inner peace, calm, unaffected by outside forces but enmeshed and swallowed whole by his own inner problems to solve But unlike Shevic, who had a purposeful dynamic, LeGuin has cast Orr as a peaceful, humble dreamer.I don t always cast the characters in a book like a film, but this time I did, I imagined Dr Haber as a bearded, fast talking George Clooney even though LeGuin s description of him was larger than life and like a huge bear.This was a great pleasure to read 2018 Ms Le Guin passed from us yesterday, she will be missed and never forgotten.

  3. says:

    The Lathe of Heaven asks the reader is it ever okay to play God Of course, when it comes to Morgan Freeman there is NO question You have to help another person But it s not right to play God with masses of people To be God you have to know what you re doing And to do any good at all, just believing you re right and your motives are good isn t enough Who would you normally root for A guy with the power to change the ugly dystopian world but is unwilling to do so Or a guy who actively tries to harvest this power to change the world for better If you think the answer to this one is easy, think again It never stops raining in this dystopian Portland, Oregon So basically just like present day Portland This short beautifully written novel is very eloquent and thought provoking It raises endless questions What is our responsibility as humans Are we responsible for changing the world if we have the means And for fixing the damage How far can we go When do we stop Is it possible to stop What are the consequences of playing God How do we decide who should hold power How much power can we handle Can we control it Do the means justify the ends What do we choose activity or passivity Is it balance or complacency Is our vision of the perfect world actually perfect and who is to decide George Orwell Orr is quiet, passive, introverted On every scale from 0 to 100 he is an average 50 His style is to escape, get away He is afraid of his own mind , as Haber puts it He is afraid indeed of his unexplained ability to change reality via his effective dreams in an unpredictable way, while retaining the memories of the previous realities As a matter of fact, he may have dreamed his present world into existence when dying in the middle of a nuclear war four years previously Outwardly docile, he has inner strength And he has zero desire to play God A person who believes, as she did, that things fit that there is a whole of which one is a part, and that in being a part one is whole such a person has no desire whatever, at any time, to play God Only those who have denied their being yearn to play at it Dr Haber is an extroverted proactive sweet talking dream specialist who wants to harvest Orr s power to make the world a better place and get himself a bit of power in the meantime He is frustrated with Orr s passive resistance After all, isn t that man s very purpose on earth to do things, change things, run things, make a better world His is sleazy, condescending, and manipulative, but ultimately NOT evil His intentions are good but what do they lead to What means are used to change the world The end justifies the means But what if there never is an end All we have is means George becomes Haber s unwilling accomplice subject, his goose who lays golden eggs He is afraid of what his subconsciousness may do Just because something is ought to be , should it What are the consequences And he is right to be afraid what we get in Haber s attempts to better the world is horrifying Plague to deal with overpopulation, gray skin color to battle race issues, euthanasia to battle cancer, alien invasion to achieve peace Seems that the world may be better the way it is, imperfect as it may be We re in the world, not against it It doesn t work to try to stand outside things and run them, that way It just doesn t work, it goes against life There is a way but you have to follow it The world is, no matter how we think it ought to be You have to be with it You have to let it be And yet ultimately the frustration is with George as much as it is with Haber after all, George s non interference allows the horror to continue But does he have the right to interfere at all The previous attempts were not so good, after all So is it our place at all to mess with the world order Who are we to do this What happens to the balance of things Haber Life evolution the whole universe of space time, matter energy existence itself is essentially change.Orr That is one aspect of it The other is stillness It s a short read, but the one that is bound to stay with the reader for quite a while as we ponder over the questions it raises The questions to which there may never be satisfying answers Beautiful, intelligent book 4 solid stars not 5 only because Orr can be quite clueless He could have solved his predicament halfway through the story, and it s a bit frustrating.

  4. says:

    The dream is the aquarium of night Victor HugoOneirophobia noun A fear of dreams.Nonentity pencil pusher, George Orr, increasingly worried that his dreams can alter past and present reality, has therefore become afraid to dream Caught using another person s pharm card to obtain drugs to keep him awake, he s referred to narcissistic psychiatrist, Dr William Haber, for an innovative course of dream therapy.The book started brightly and the first chapter promised much, a nice run of assonance feeding proceedings jellyfish, abyss.Then, to further reinforce Le Guin s writing credentials, some beautiful imagery the moondriven sea.A ha A sci fi author fond of her literary devices We bonded almost immediately Sadly, the second chapter became mired in some stodgy science stuff that had me glazing over for a while s states, d states, v c induction, blah, blah, blah I m not in the least bit techy I still use an abacus and a sextant and, man, I was beginning to get bored But, happily, things improved dramatically Doctor Haber asks Orr to don a trancap which is wired to a dream machine that monitors his sleeping thoughts and right off the bat this seemingly unremarkable patient ruffles the psychiatrist s clinical countenance by effecting an outlandish happenstance.But Haber is a man who wants full control over his human guinea pig rhesus monkey goose that might lay a golden egg, and seeks to confuse Orr s grasp of reality with the deployment of some devious misdirection.Orr is the underdog we are all rooting for his innate goodness is in sharp contrast to Haber s artfulness and so the story becomes somewhat parabolic More than a few sessions continue and, after another bout of assonance saddles, hobbles slogging, plodding Brownian, roundian , an astonishing event unfolded before my mind s eye in glorious Technicolor An event so monumental, so Orrsome that it had me bouncing up and down in my seat Bravo, Ursula Le Guin I shouted in honour of her memory THAT was STUPENDOUS In due course, Orr s God like powers run amok and all manner of crazy things start to occur, notably the introduction of dreamt to life aliens whose tentacles retract like a carpenter s flexible rule.Now I ve often been told that I don t know my arse from my elbow, and that I often talk out of my arseWELL, the aliens in this story ALL talk out of their elbows, so if Earth is ever invaded for real, we ll get along famously I m delighted to say that the book is really well written I purred over much of Le Guin s prose and marvelled at the ingenuity of her fascinating story.I loved the graceful, esoteric ending but, because Le Guin kept ploughing the same doctor patient furrow throughout, and because of the tedious science bits, I ve deducted one star.But, overall, this was a marvellously entertaining read that lovers of old skool sci fi will revere I loved it Big thanks to my supercool sci fi pal, Apatt, for recommending this cracking story, and also to KimberSilver for agreeing to be my buddy reader.

  5. says:

    I ve been struggling over this review for several weeks Writing about a classic science fiction novel is daunting, especially one as beloved as The Lathe of Heaven.The story is set set in Portland, Oregon, and George Orr is sent to psychiatrist Dr Haber for his abuse of drugs Orr had been taking drugs to try and prevent himself from dreaming, because his dreams have the power to alter reality When he wakes, George remembers both worlds the pre dream version and the post dream He reluctantly explains his situation to Dr Haber, who doesn t believe him at first.The story quickly takes a dark turn when Dr Haber witnesses George change the world with his dreams, and the doctor decides to try and take control and fix reality to his liking This being science fiction, nothing goes smoothly For example, when Dr Haber tells George to dream about the problem of overpopulation, George imagines a horrible plague that wipes out millions of people When Dr Haber tells George to dream of peace on earth, George conjures up aliens that are attacking mankind, and now there is a war in space When Dr Haber wants George to solve the problem of racism, George dreams that everyone is the same color grey Sadly, that dream killed the biracial woman, Heather, that George had fallen in love with George knows that Dr Haber is manipulating him, but he feels powerless and doesn t know how to escape Eventually there is a climactic scene in which Dr Haber has figured out a way to make his own dreams alter reality, but it causes chaos, and George has to try and save the world Again.What I liked about this novel was Le Guin s creativity and cleverness Not only did it show that there are no easy solutions to world problems like war and racism and overpopulation, but it demonstrated that even people with good intentions could never imagine all of the consequences to a radical change in society.The book was also smart about the details of the different worlds each dream could cause significant alterations, and George was forced to remembered them all Both George and my reading self would sometimes get confused about what reality we were in A book club friend remarked that the different layers of reality reminded her of Kate Atkinson s Life After Life, in which the main character is forced to live life over and over again, with frequent occurrences of d j vu My only complaint about this book is that the writing relied a bit much on jargon and nonsense words, which bogged down the text at times Dr Haber has a lot of dialogue that is meant to be explanatory he uses terms such as d state, s state, EEG plus trancap, ESB, HEW, the Augmentor, etc , but the long paragraphs of gibberish caused my eyes to glaze over In the end, I have to admit how much I have pondered this book Before falling asleep at night, I d be grateful that whatever silliness I was about to dream was not real I would think about this book while watching news stories about global problems, and remember there are no simple solutions This was a thought provoking novel that I would recommend to other readers Favorite Quotes You know that you need sleep Just as you need food, water, and air But did you realize that sleep s not enough, that your body insists just as strongly upon having its allotment of dreaming sleep If deprived systematically of dreams, your brain will do some very odd things to you It will make you irritable, hungry, unable to concentrate liable to daydreams, uneven as to reaction times, forgetful, irresponsible, and prone to paranoid fantasies He was terrified, anguished, exhausted, bewildered I ve got to do something, I ve got to do something, he kept telling himself frantically, but he did not know what to do He had never known what to do He had always done what seemed to want doing, the next thing to be done, without asking questions, without forcing himself, without worrying about it But that sureness of foot had deserted him when he began taking drugs, and by now he was quite astray He must act, he had to act He must refuse to let Haber use him any longer as a tool He must take his destiny into his own hands Things don t have purposes, as if the universe were a machine, where every part has a useful function What s the function of a galaxy I don t know if our life has a purpose and I don t see that it matters What does matter is that we re a part Like a thread in a cloth or a grass blade in a field It is and we are What we do is like wind blowing on the grass There were by now so many different memories, so many skeins of life experience jostling in his head, that he scarcely tried to remember anything He took it as it came He was living almost like a young child, among actualities only He was surprised by nothing, and by everything.

  6. says:

    This is by far my favourite Ursula K Le Guin s novel well, neck and neck with her novella The Word for World is Forest Her most popular science fiction books thus excluding the classic Earthsea fantasy series tend to be The Left hand of Darkness or The Dispossessed, both of these are excellent books but The Lathe of Heaven is the most mind blowing It is as if she was channeling Philip K Dick, and according to Wikipedia it is actually her tribute to the late great author The Lathe of Heaven is the story of George Orr an insignificant little man who dreams big Whenever Orr has an effective dream, the dream becomes real effective dream as opposed to normal dreams which he also has Reality reshapes in accordance with his effective dreams and even changes retroactively to ensure consistency and avoid paradoxes Orr gives a great example of this during a session with his dastardly psychiatrist William Haber if he dreams effectively of a pink dog when he wakes up there will be a pink dog, but it would not surprise anybody as there will have always been pink dogs in the world, and one has wandered into the room So it is not a case of a pink dog suddenly popping into existence.Favorite coverWhen I read that I had to pause and imagine the implication and it really is one of the most intriguing sci fi concepts ever Unfortunately for George Orr and the rest of the world he is manipulated by Haber who turns out to be an egomaniac With the aid of an Augmentor machine of his own invention he is able to indulge his God complex and alter reality the way he sees fit From that point reality start warping and changing like taffy It would be a crime for me to elaborate on the numerous changes wrought by Orr s effective dreams, I really recommend that you find out for yourself.Le Guin has one advantage over PKD in that she does write better prose, dialog and characterization Personally I do not have any problems with PKD s writing style but in term of literary merit I think Le Guin is in a different league PKD is the champion in the brilliantly wacky plots department I think Here is an example And since then Haber had at least been candid with Orr about his manipulations Though candid was not the right word Haber was much too complex a person for candor Layer after layer might peel off the onion and yet nothing be revealed but onion That peeling off of one layer was the only real change Wobbly reality coverAdd her prose prowess to her massive imagination and her legendary status within the SF F genres is not at all surprising During the last few chapters Le Guin s imagination goes into overdrive and I felt totally immersed in her dream like shifting reality Her characters are always believable and suitably lovable or despicable as the plot requires Beside Orr and Haber there is another central character called Heather Lelache who is both tough and sympathetic There are some poignant scenes involving her that I find to be quite moving.I could go on and on about this book and I will probably read it again one day this is already a reread It is one of the all time greats and if you love science fiction it is not to be missed.Notes Update Jan 25, 18 Sadly Ms Le Guin just passed away a couple of days ago I am so grateful for all her great stories, beautiful writing, sense of humour and compassion She was also a staunch defender of the sci fi genre The 1980 movie adaptation is good Ms Le Guin approves Video interview with Ursula K LeGuin about Lathe of Heaven.

  7. says:

    For those new to or unaware of the wonders of Le Guin, this is a short book about George Orr, a man who has been taking too many drugs in an attempt to stop dreaming Some of his dreams become true not in the prescient sense, but in the reality is reordered sense, and George is haunted by the changes In his highly regulated society, his drug deviance results in a mandatory visit to a psychologist and his dreaming machine Dr Huber discovers George s power is real and convinces him that intentional dreaming is the solution As the political world, environment and history change around them, George and the psychologist struggle with reality, responsibility and consequences.A number of thoughts after finishing this very powerful story One we are roughly the same age.Two I can t help but feel like LeGuin was scarily prescient The Greenhouse Effect had been quite gradual, and Haber, born in 1962, could clearly remember the blue skies of his childood Nowadays the eternal snows were gone from all the world s mountains, even Everest, even Erebus, fiery throated on the waste Antarctic shore Humanity, I m disappointed in you you mean that we ve known about climate change for fifty years and it s accelerating That the snow is indeed receding from the world s mountains It is disorienting to realize we are living the dystopia For off topic commentary not subject to removal by Goodreads, please finish reading at

  8. says:

    WHY TIME That s what I was asking Le Guin or, rather, myself as I read the first half of this book You have this guy, George, who is ordinary literally median, in fact except that when he dreams, reality changes to match his dreams It does this by changing the past so that whatever new thing he dreams of has always been that way so as far as everyone else is concerned nothing has happened I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction and am willing to make some pretty damn suspensions to disbelief, but this is just over the limit impossible.It s supposed to be I m sure Le Guin could have thought up some marginally plausible mechanism by which one individual could unintentionally and uncontrollably alter reality for the entire universe, but then the readers would have spent half the book thinking about how this worked and whether it was internally consistent, and she didn t want that It s not possible, forget about that part The point is to create an original arena for raising a number of huge ethical and philosophical questions What is evil What makes us human What is the relationship between memory and personality Can one justify doing harm for the greater good Is it possibly for a human being to really understand what the greater good is Do we have free will What are the moral and practical obligations of power How do we balance conflicting moral dilemmas Could we ever really communicate with aliens The aliens, by the way, seemed to me suspiciously like a joke about how this isn t really science fiction This is a novel of ideas, and it doesn t matter how many alien invaders, space battles, time shifts, psychic powers, and futuristic machines you toss in.All that was the part that was interesting to me As an actual reading experience the book wasn t very enjoyable The prose was skillful but not pleasurable, and the characters were boring To a purpose, and I understand why, but still boring The most interesting was Heather Lelache, and it bothered be how her character was so reduced in later incarnations Again, I understand why and that Le Guin was raising issues of free will, gender norms, etc, but I think it was heavy handed Really a lot of the didactic purpose of the story seemed heavy handed, and I wish the hard work involved had been me thinking instead of the struggle to persevere in reading it.

  9. says:

    Sometime in 1980 I caught a trippy sci fi movie on television It blew my mind with its psychedelic special effects and consciousness altering ideas But like so many psychedelic and consciousness altering experiences, some of it impressed itself deeply on my memory while other details were quickly forgotten like a dream upon awakening.I remembered that a man s dreams rewrote reality I remembered that the black woman he loved had turned gray along with the rest of the world And I remembered that the TV station was PBS, or channel Thirteen as it was called in New York City But I didn t remember the title.In the years that followed, I often wished to see that movie again When I thumbed through the TV Guide, I would read the descriptions of the PBS programs in the hope of recognizing something But I never saw anything that I recognized I now know why The cost of using the Beatles song, With a Little Help from My Friends, was prohibitive Nevertheless the mystery was eventually solved I don t know what prompted me to read The Lathe of Heaven other than the fact that I frequented the science fiction sections of bookstores whenever possible and that something having to do with dreams was guaranteed to get my attention I also don t know exactly how far I read into The Lathe of Heaven before I recognized it as the source of the movie that blew my mind that evening in 1980 But there it was My trippy dream movie in its original form.I have read this book a few times since then and it is one of those books where I seem to get something different from it each time I read it From my first and most superficial reading I got exactly what I wanted a mind bending sci fi story about alternate realities Reading it years later, after my graduate studies in philosophy, I got a Taoist parable about the dangers of Utilitarianism Still later, assigning it to a few literature courses I was teaching, I got a richly symbolic and occasionally poetic work of literary brilliance This time I got all that and It is still the dreaming that interests me above all The Taoism still enchants me and a few passages, especially what I will call the jellyfish passages, still delight me But on this reading I was sensitive to the metaphysics of the story Haber wants to be God, but isn t George doesn t want to be God, but is Of course, George is not actually God, but he might as well be His dreams become reality When the world ends, he dreams it back into existence He might as well be Vishnu, the cosmic dreamer, the sleeping God who dreams the universe into existence I know that this is a Taoist story, that George is the uncarved block, the man who goes with the flow, yielding, desireless, soft as water But I also see echoes of Hinduism in this story According to the Mandukya Upanishad, there are four states of consciousness waking, dreaming, deep sleep, and transcendence In waking life, consciousness is directed without In dreaming life, consciousness is directed within In deep sleep, consciousness is silent and the self is at peace These are the ordinary states of consciousness But there is a fourth state of consciousness transcendence It is pure, eternal, undifferentiated This is the true state of the self Is this the state of consciousness George experiences as he lays on the floor of his darkened living room He lay still, not asleep somewhere else than sleep, father on, farther out, a place where there are no dreams It was not the first time he had been there 78.George intuitively recognizes the oneness of all things Self is universe 142 says one of the extraterrestrial creations of his dreaming mind Thou art that, says the Chandogya Upanishad Atman is Brahman Self is God, consciousness, all that is Unlike George, Haber thinks of God as a benevolent ruler who controls and directs the world This is precisely why he wants to be God And it is precisely why he is so alienated from the world and from himself When Haber dreams, chaos ensues The world becomes unmade because he cannot bear the knowledge that it is all a dream And what if it is What if life is a dream What if everything in the universe, everything past, present, and future, everything from the Big Bang to the Apocalypse, is all just a dream in the mind of God When Vishnu s dream ends, the universe ends Everything ceases to exist until he dreams again Do George s dreams likewise sustain the universe Does he sleep on the cosmic sea, a lotus arising from his navel, Heather Lelache, like Lakshmi, massaging his feet as he dreams a new reality into existence And if he does, if this is what reality is, does it matter To a rational mind, a utilitarian mind, in short, a mind like Haber s mind, this is an existential nightmare But to a mind that can embrace paradox, a mind that seeks harmony rather than control, it does not matter at all.

  10. says:

    Would you like to play God Would you like to shape the world to your liking Maybe to rid it of war, overpopulation, hunger, racial prejudice, decease To make it into your own idea of Heaven Well, the two main characters of The Lathe of Heaven have different opinions on this subject George Orr, who possesses a unique ability to change the world by dreaming about, seemingly, the most mundane things, wants this power to be gone, he is sure the events should take their natural course, no matter how dire the consequences are to the humanity His doctor, William Haber, thinks it is his responsibility to make this world a better place He is adamant he will achieve his goal of a perfect society And he will use Orr s ability as a means to his megalomaniac ends Does it matter that people in his utopia are all of a battleship gray color That sick people are euthanized Not to Haber, as long as it is for the common good.The Lathe of Heaven was the first Le Guin s book that tickled my visualization powers, which are very modest, to put it lightly My imagination went in overdrive picturing our planet changing billions of people disappearing, landscapes transforming, climate adjusting all retroactive results of Orr s unconscious dreaming This story would make a visually stunning movie a la Inception image error