Don’t let the hideous (and huge) picture above fool you. This is a fantastic book. What were they thinking when they put this on the cover of a book??? Heck I just read it and I’m not even sure I know what that’s supposed to be. No wonder people shy away from sci-fi, if this was on my copy I probably wouldn’t have read it either… ANYWAYS…
One of the things that I love about Ursula le Guin is her amazing ability to create such original stories. Such as this one.
The Lathe of Heaven revolves around a man named George Orr whose dreams change reality, and he is the only one who ever realizes the changes that occur. He’s not an ambitious person and doesn’t want or enjoy this power, and tries to use dream-suppressing drugs to escape it. That lands him in trouble with the law and he therefore has to submit to voluntary therapy with Dr. Haber, or he’ll get put in jail.
Dr. Haber is an overly ambitious therapist, one heavily concerned with the study of dreams. He also has that god complex that seems ingrained in so many “ambitious” men. He believes that he can change the world, for the good of the world. When he meets Orr and realizes that Orr’s dreams actually DO change reality, he keeps Orr in his clutches to re-organize the world as he deems fit. Of course, the biggest lesson here is that human interference and attempt to control everything is not only pointless, it’s detrimental to the good of humanity. For example, he instructs Orr to dream about peace on Earth – when Orr wakes up, the world’s nations are no longer fighting each other, but instead have united together to war with aliens (which didn’t exist before the dream). He also instructs Orr to dream that racism doesn’t exist – and therefore all of humanity becomes gray. And so on and so forth, with each dreaming session creating a new and bizarre world, and Orr becoming increasingly distressed as he tries to find a way away from Dr. Haber.
A great book, one that got me thinking about a whole slew of world problems and issues that we all wish we could fix… but one problem would likely replace another. Dr. Haber is the perfect example of a mad scientist, and George Orr is a likable guy, and I found it easy to sympathize with him throughout the book.