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Coming of Age in Karhide
is a story about a Gethenian who’s not secretive like Estraven in The Left Hand of Darkness and tells the story of their life from childhood. They way they “come of age” (ie. Come into sexual maturity and start transforming into a woman or a man during the period each month). This has all the answers that keep you hanging in the novel but also, because the mystery is solved so soon, less of the depth.

On reading this a second time right after The Left Hand of Darkness I was struck by how many hints of not just the wider universe created in that work are in this, but of the history, the very events that take place after Gethen joins the Ekumen.


We exchanged and compared symptoms for a mile or so. It was a relief to talk about it, to find company in misery, but it was also frightening to hear our misery confirmed by the other. Sether burst out, "I'll tell you what I hate, what I really hate about it—it's dehumanizing. To get jerked around like that by your own body, to lose control, I can't stand the idea. Of being just a sex machine. And everybody just turns into something to have sex with. You know that people in kemmer go crazy and die if there isn't anybody else in kemmer? That they'll even attack people in somer? Their own mothers?"
"They can't," I said, shocked.
"Yes they can. Tharry told me. This truck driver up in the High Kargav went into kemmer as a male while their caravan was stuck in the snow, and he was big and strong, and he went crazy and he, he did it to his cab-mate, and his cab-mate was in somer and got hurt, really hurt, trying to fight him off. And then the driver came out of kemmer and committed suicide."
This horrible story brought the sickness back up from the pit of my stomach, and I could say nothing.
Sether went on, "People in kemmer aren't even human anymore! And we have to do that—to be that way!
Now that awful, desolate fear was out in the open. Buts was not a relief to speak it. It was even larger and more terrible, spoken.
"It's stupid," Sether said. "It's a primitive device for continuing the species. There's no need for civilized people to undergo it. People who want to get pregnant could do it with injections. It would be genetically sound. You could choose your child's getter. There wouldn't be all this inbreeding, people fucking with their sibs, like animals. Why do we have to be animals?"

In The Left Hand of Darkness the envoys ask, what is left of humanity in someone who lives life without a sexual drive? And here goes Le Guin turning the world on its head: Isn't life with a sexual drive very strange indeed? We live our childhood's as minds and then suddenly, we have to start living life as a body and fighting against that body a battle that will never be ended.

read2, #cuento/short-story, #science fiction, *author: female, +gender, +genderfuck, +philosophy, +social issues, 2011, 2011: short-story in english, @read in english, [quotes], [quotes] book, author: ursula k. le guin, book-2011

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