I've had "The Left Hand of Darkness" sitting in my stash for a while. Never read anything by Le Guin, not sure why. I liked this a lot - it made me think I ought to read more sci-fi written by women. How many female sci-fi authors do I even know? Three? Ursula Le Guin. Octavia Butler. Connie Willis. (Who else is there? Help me out here.)
Anyway, back to "The Left Hand of Darkness" - I loved the setting here: the lone envoy for a planetary federation, come to a wintry planet to invite them to join. I don't usually care all that much for the outer space sci-fi, because most of it is about weaponry and aliens who must be defeated. I loved this so much more because it wasn't like that at all - it talked about how hard it is to make contact, and how easy it is to egregiously misunderstand each other, when you have such different planes of reference. What's common and normal to the envoy, is weird and freaky to the inhabitants of Winter, and vice versa, and it is only very slowly that the two sides come closer to each other. This is what I love about sci-fi: that it can take a foreign setting to get right into your head and illustrate truths about the human condition.