After a recommendation from Greg Wilson, I borrowed a copy of Ursula le Guin’s “The Dispossessed“, a 1974 sci-fi novel about a scientist and activist bridging the culture gap between a plausible anarchic society (a sort of non-authoritarian communism) and a capitalistic society much like ours today. It’s a great, intelligent book, full of unexpected little edges and juicy threads –both at the societal and at the personal level.
But it especially resonated in me because the brief segments when le Guin describes the creative cycles of Shevek, the main character, are so close to what I’ve been experiencing through my Ph.D.: long periods of apparently aimless research that turn out to be solid foundations of novel ideas; sudden inspiration one night followed by an inability to put it all together the next morning, and so on. The bits about research politics and the free dissemination of science are also spot on. Made me root for Shevek even more.
By the way, Greg’s list of recommended reading has never disappointed me. In the odd case that you don’t have anything to read next, drop by his website and pick something up –you’ll like it.
(And thanks to Juan for sharing the book with me!)