"Unproof is the ground of action. If it were proven that there is no God there would be no religion. No Handdara, no Yomesh, no hearthgods, nothing. But also if it were proven that there is a God, there would be no religion…."
A human named Genly Ai travels to an icy planet called Gethen in order to get the intelligent beings on the planet to join a trading/peacekeeping system called the Enkumen, which runs the galaxy. Not only does he have to convince the people of Gethen that it would be beneficial to join this intergalactic organization, he also has to convince them that he truly is an alien. Trying to figure out how to convince a planet whose costumes he doesn’t understand proves to be difficult. In order to complete his mission, he has to learn to trust androgynous people with strange biological functioning and complex cultural practices. Genly visits two cities on Gethen, Karhide, and Orgoreyn, both of which have different reactions to Genly’s mission. Between the cities however, he visits some people who practice a religion that is focused on asking the right questions as opposed to the wrong ones. Genly becomes so focused on trying to answer the wrong question that he does not realize the most important question staring him in the face. It is not a matter of “if” Gethen will join Enkumen; but of “how.” Often times, knowing the answer to a question can also be harmful. Will Genly learn to trust the right people to help him with his mission? At what cost will Genly manage to get the planet of Gethen to join the Enkumen?
“The tales that described throughout the novel, provide interesting lessons about the meaning of trust and the value of the unknown. These mini stories in the main story added to Ai’s journey so that the reader could anticipate the author’s message. Also the mini stories within the main story added on to the entertainment and authenticity of the world to make a more exciting story.”
- Megan Otzeltupitin (Hannah Donahue), Nightly Mightly Press
“While it is fun to fantasized about a world in which people are not motivated by their base desires, it is simply impossible for a race like this to exist. People need sexual attraction to form their identities and motivate them. Furthermore there could never be a world without war since civilization grows from brutality. Still it is a nice fantasy the conjure once in a while in order to cling to a better form of humanity.”
-Freud, author of Civilization and its Discontent