So, the tropes that stuck out to me as issues or just as interesting:
- Gender Neutral Writing – I’m kind of conflicted about this. I spent a little while angrily googling things like le guin interview pronouns, and found out that she herself advocates for the use of singular ‘they.’ So I’m inclined to think that the weird, annoying retrofitting into the ‘he’/’she’ linguistic gender binary was intended as a way in which none of the non-Gethenian narrators are fully reliable narrators – they’re imposing their own structures of understanding onto a people to whom those structures don’t apply. But on the other hand… there was nothing I can think of in the text that discussed the issues of doing that, and because I’m really invested in getting singular ‘they’ more widely accepted, it makes me uncomfortable to think that readers are coming away without ever questioning why a reliance on binary pronouns might be problematic.
- Medieval Stasis – I just really question the actual importance of what the reasoning for the super slow technological development is, in the sense that the in-universe explanation could be basically anything. It seems a little handwavey to me: yeah, it’s cold, we’re busy surviving, whatever… Really it’s had the technology it does for as long as it has, in the end, because le Guin wanted it to. (And I’m not saying that as a criticism! I like the setting. I think what I mean is that excessive musing or worldbuilding on How This Came To Be would actually detract from the fact that it is.)
- UST – Yeah, I definitely thought they were going to kiss.