The Left Hand of Darkness is a science fiction novel by Ursula K. Le Guin, published in 1969. It became immensely popular, winning both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and establishing Le Guin as a major author of science fiction. The novel tells the story of Genly Ai, an Earthman sent to the planet of Gethen as an envoy of the Ekumen. He is stymied by the cultural barrier created by the Gethenians' lack of a fixed gender identity. The novel is part of the Hainish Cycle, a series of novels and short stories by Le Guin set in the fictional Hainish universe, which she introduced in 1964. The book was among the first published in the feminist science fiction genre. The effect of sex and gender on culture and society, a major theme throughout the novel, touched off a feminist debate when it was first published. Left Hand has been reprinted more than 30 times, and has received a highly positive response from reviewers. Widely influential, it has been described as a seminal work in the genre of science fiction. In 1987 the literary critic Harold Bloom said, "Le Guin, more than Tolkien, has raised fantasy into high literature, for our time". (Full article...)
A pair of gulf fritillaries (Agraulis vanillae) mating. The gulf fritillary is a bright orange butterfly of the family Nymphalidae and subfamily Heliconiinae, found along their migration route, ranging from Argentina in the south to upper California in the north.