The Lathe Of Heaven

A Novel

Paperback, 192 pages

English language

Published May 20, 2008 by Scribner.

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4 stars (4 reviews)

“The Lathe of Heaven” ; 1971 ( Ursula Le Guin received the 1973 Locus Award for this story) George Orr has a gift – he is an effective dreamer: his dreams become reality when he wakes up. He is aware of his past and present, two or more sets of memories, although the people around him are only aware of the current reality. This science fiction story is set in Portland, Oregon, in/around the late 1990s - early 2000s. Orr begins to take drugs to suppress dreams but eventually he is sent to a psychotherapist, Dr. William Haber, who has developed an electronic machine, the Augmentor, which records the brain patterns of a person as they dream. When Haber realizes that he can use Orr's unique ability to change their world, the consequences are both beneficial and frightening, both locally and globally. Orr seeks out the help of a civil …

17 editions

reviewed The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin

A development of medical and societal ethics through the lens of a sci fi thriller

5 stars

A slow-burn psychological thriller that ramps up to a fever pitch while hitting quite a few strong notes along the way.

The Lathe of Heaven is uniquely gripping because its themes seem to morph so fluidly throughout the novel, giving just enough breath to each to offer social commentary while still leaving plenty of air for the reader to ponder the implications. Just to name a few, the book hits on self medication, spiraling into incarceration, medical/psychological research and its ethical implications, weighing ethical responsibilities to individuals against humanity at large, our duty to monitor our unconscious biases and an amnesic fading grasp on reality. Explored in a surrealist fictional present, these topics are provided with enough distance from our real-world understanding to mull them over with fresh eyes.

Of these, I was particularly interested in the ethics of research science as these considerations still ripple through the field of …


  • American Science Fiction And Fantasy
  • Leguin, Ursula - Prose & Criticism
  • Fiction
  • Fiction - Science Fiction
  • Fantasy - General
  • Science Fiction - General
  • Fiction / General
  • General
  • Dreams
  • Science fiction