|Submitted by Farcaster |
(May 15, 2007)
Gifts is a book that does what the best speculative fiction does: it asks the question, "What if?" and answers the question by examining what people and their society might be like under whatever remarkable circumstances are envisioned. In doing so, Le Guin's books always tell us something valuable about ourselves and our society, making for a more fulfilling reading experience than that offered by "sword and sorcery" fantasy novels.
Magical abilities of varying types and degrees are the "gifts" shared by members of the Upland clans, and each family's gift defines their place in the socio-economic structure, while the more powerful abilities serve as checks and balances that prevent any one clan from dominating the others.
When a young man chooses blindness over his family's dangerous gift of unmaking, the balance begins to tip. As the story unfolds, we come to question who is the more blind: the son whose eyes are covered or the father who cannot see that his son may have abilities that are different from those traditionally associated with his family.
After reading this charming and thought-provoking book by one of SFF best writers, you will think twice before calling any child in our world "gifted".