This was a short session, which didn’t do justice to such a complex book, because the festivity of Pink Dot made it difficult to discuss.
It’s a 2-2 vote for the book. Timmy disliked the book because it was overly scientific and ambitious although he is willing to give the book another go; Alex disliked the later part because of the tedious description of the journey. On the other hand, Raj and Aaron loved the book very much. Not his preferred genre, Raj was surprised at how he could relate the book to real life. Aaron liked the complexity, intricacies and the journey of a homophobic to a non-homophobic person.
1. Favorite character: Alex and Aaron both liked the handsomest “man/woman” in the book because he is evil.
2. Sex: Timmy felt that Le Guin seems to be playing god because she dictates the roles of sex in beings.
a. Incest: Both Timmy and Alex felt that the incest isn’t creepy.
c. Mother/Father figure: Timmy thought that a being which can be either a mother or a father questions religion.
d. Estraven-Genly Ai: Do they have sex? Alex didn’t think so; Aaron thought it was suggested, like the camera shifting from a kissing scene into the embers of dying fire. Aaron said that it is reasonable for them to have sex because then they would be connected by soul and body. Timmy said that’s cheesy.
e. Prostitution: Alex brought up that it is interesting that there are bordellos and that part should be explored and would potentially be interesting. Timmy related the bordello to a gay sauna.
f. Sexuality: The sexuality of the beings defies any forms of categorization. They are gay, straight, bisexual, and transgender, all roll into one.
3. War: Do wars exist only because of the aggression in the male sex? The novel is ambiguous.
4. Politics: Aaron thought the “shifgrethor” (saving face and avoiding confrontation) is reminiscent of Singapore’s politics; but Timmy suggested that it is applicable to Asian societies.
5. Style: Alex brought up the style of the novel, claiming that the novel is overly complicated with two narrators, legends, myths, etc. Aaron suggests that this would provide an holistic picture, demonstrating Genly’s flaws.
Other issues not discussed are technology, ecology, post-colonialism, religion, and race.