THE LATHE OF HEAVEN
By Ursula K. Le Guin
Ms. Hen stumbled upon this book because she was in the Science Fiction section of her library looking for another book, and she found this one. She had just watched a video that went viral in which Ursula K. LeGuin gave a speech for the National Book Awards for the award for Outstanding Contribution to American Letters where she told writers to keep writing. During the speech, the man who introduced her said that he couldn’t believe he was introducing her, and went to do research about her, but read THE LATHE OF HEAVEN instead. And there it was, staring Ms. Hen in the face, so she checked it out.
In the novel George Orr is sentenced to psychiatric help for stealing someone’s prescriptions. We are in the near future when the book was written. Ms. Hen discovers later in the novel that they year is 2002. Orr goes to Dr. Haber, a dream specialist who wants to help him with his problem.
Orr tells him that when he sleeps and dreams, his dreams come true. They don’t simply come true, they change history. He explained to Dr. Haber that his aunt came to visit his family after she got divorced because she needed a place to stay, and she harassed Orr. He dreams that she dies, and when he wakes up, he finds out that she had never come to live with them because she dies in a car crash.
Dr. Haber, fascinated with his subject, hypnotizes Orr to see if he could get him to dream something he wants him to dream. He tells him to dream a pleasant dream about a horse, and he does. The picture in Dr. Haber’s office changes from one of Mount Hood to a horse. Orr is confused about the picture changing, but Dr. Haber told him it had always been the horse, even though Orr knew it hadn't.
Dr. Haber continues to hypnotize him and tells him what to dream. George tells Dr. Haber that he wishes there wasn’t such a problem with overcrowdedness, so he dreams of a plague that kills off a large percentage of the population. When he wakes up, he finds this is true, and it’s always been true. George goes home and finds more food in his refrigerator than he could ever remember.
Dr. Haber wonders why such an amazing gift could be given to so bland a man. George Orr tested in the middle in every single psychiatric test Dr. Haber gave him. Ms. Hen wondered about George, too. She wonders if the fate of the world will be up to someone who is devoid of anything interesting about him.
Orr goes to an African-American lawyer, Heather Lelache to see if she can help him stop Dr. Haber from using him to change the world through his dreams. Miss Lelache witnesses Orr going under and sees the changes. Orr runs off to the forest after that, to a cabin he wanted, but used his dreams to manipulate acquiring.
Orr’s dreams get messier and messier. In one of his dreams, there are no races and everyone is gray. In this part of his life, he is married to Heather Lelache. She is gray also, but does not have the same strong personality as she does when she is African-American. Dr. Haber tells him to dream of peace on earth, but instead, aliens conquer earth and start a war.
Ms. Hen wasn’t sure what to make of Dr. Haber. He didn’t seem like he had bad intentions, but he kept twisting Orr’s dreams to make his own life better and better. Ms. Hen wanted to believe he was evil, but she didn’t think he was. He had good intentions, but he screwed up the world.
Ms. Hen was surprised that even though this was supposed to take place in 2002, there isn’t the technology in the book that we have today. There are no cell phones, and Orr and Lelache keep missing each other. Ms. Hen thought that if they had cell phones, they would have found each other. Ms. Hen is amazed that no matter how good a writer is, that nobody can truly predict what the future will hold. Some books come close, but none are one hundred percent accurate.
Ms. Hen doesn’t usually read books like this, but she enjoyed it. She likes thinking about the world in the future, though this was written over forty years ago. Ms. Hen gives this book five feathers up, because it made her imagine a different world, one far away, but at the same time so close.