The physicist Shevek was born on the anarchistic planet of Anarres. The Dispossessed is the story of his life on Anarres and how he copes during his travels on the capitalistic planet of Urras. Shevek has no concept of money, property, or hierarchies. This makes his journey to Urras difficult and he faces many moral dilemmas as he attempts to complete a great work of theoretical physics while visiting on Urras. Shevek must make choices that will not only impact his own life, but all the lives on the twin planets.
This book primarily examines the concepts of anarchism and capitalism and could have easily been a mainstream work of fiction. As in most well-developed science fiction, the setting of the work is peripheral to the questions that are being posed to the reader. This book also examines the idea of utopias and whether or not they are realistically possible. This book is excellent not only because of the political and philosophical questions it raises, but also because of the moral and ethical problems that are also examined. This book is Le Guin at her best.
Reviewed by ht, 5/98. Other reviews by ht.