The Left Hand of Darkness

Written by Ursula K. Le Guin
Read by Kåre von Geijer

I happened to stumble upon this book (partly due to recommendation by ChatGPT) and did not have that large expectations. However, it caught me completely off guard and became one of my favorite books in a long time, even though it is over 50 years old. Le Guin has included an excellent introduction, where she partly describes her science fiction books as thought experiments that explore consequences of changes to the world.

The book centers around the alien envoy Genly Ai, who makes contact with the secluded world Winter, trying to persuade its nations to join the interplanetary confederation Ekumen. A focus of the story is portraying the myriad of misunderstandings when two different cultures meet for the first time. The standout theme is how sex and gender effects society, as the inhabitants of Winter lack a single gender and are androgynous.

It has been described as the first feminist science fiction book, won the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and often ranks among the best science fiction books of all time.