I’ve only discovered Le Guin in the past year or so, and her novels are so thought provoking and layered. I’ve become a huge fan, and can’t get enough of her books.
The Lathe of Heaven centres on George Orr; he discovers that the things he dreams come true – at least in some sense of the word. For example, he dreams that a relative has died, and then wakes into an altered version of reality in which she had been killed months earlier. When he realizes the power that he has, he seeks help from mental health professionals.
Most don’t believe him and think he should be institutionalized, until he meets Dr. Haber, who quickly begins to grasp the potential of Orr’s “gift”. He starts to manipulate Orr’s dreams through psychotherapy, and thereby altering the world.
Orr begins to discover what is happening, but is unable to leave his government-mandated therapy with Dr Haber. Even if he does manage to escape the suggestions of the doctor, how does he sleep without fearing that he will cause irreparable damage to people he loves, or the world in general?
It becomes a fascinating question in morality and ethics… if you could eliminate all war on earth by making the suggestion into someone’s dreams, would you? What if you woke the next day to find unity between all countries on earth, but that it was necessitated by the need to join together to fight invaders from other planets?
It’s a fascinating concept wrapped up in a fairly short book. Recommended to anyone who likes putting their brain through moral gymnastics.