The Lathe of Heaven

The Lathe of Heaven - Ursula K. Le Guin I can’t believe I haven’t read this book before. The Lathe of Heaven is an exquisitely crafted work that explores the human need to control the world around it. Le Guin’s novel examines the havoc that even the most benevolent of men can wreak when they try to play God. It gives the reader a protagonist that is at first unlikable because of his timidity. George Orr is a man who would rather not have the power to change the world. He goes through his life, wishing that things might be better, but unwilling to change things. Unwilling – not unable – because when George has a certain type of dreams, those dreams become our reality.5 Star Rated Review

Can you imagine how completely terrifying that must be? I mean, most people want the power to change the world, but to do it through dreams? Through a medium that you have little to no control over? Geeze, can you imagine if the poor fellow also had chronic nightmares? The world would have been screwed thrice a week and twice on Sunday! Of course he wants to not dream anymore. I would too, if my dreams were changing reality!

So, in comes Dr. Haber. Haber seems like an essentially good dude, right? But, he’s got an ego, and as soon as he figures out how powerful George’s dreams really are, he starts actively trying to fix the world. Except, see, when you’re messing with dreams, you never know what the result is going to be. Nothing ever goes as planned, and even when things go ‘right’ there’s unexpected consequences. When George realizes what’s happening, he seeks help. He seeks help, and he finds love. It is that love that transforms George from a timid man to one that resonates with a strength few will ever have. Can love save the world? Still, he’s going up against a giant, and all this regular joe has is a need to set things right.

The Lathe of Heaven take a mere 184 pages and transforms them into a battle for reality that’s fought in a psychiatrist’s office. Not exactly the battleground most people would think about. It showcases the power of the mind. Le Guin’s novel smashes us over the head with the danger inherent with being able to change the world with our dream. But it also teases the reader’s imagination, beckoning it to wonder what the world would be like if they had that power. Overall, it’s just a fantastic book, and given how short it is, there’s no reason for you to put off reading it for as long as I did.