Book Review: The Left Hand of Dog by SI Clarke

Good morning! In celebration of SI Clarke’s new book coming out TOMORROW, I’m sharing my review to get you excited! I’ve reviewed SI Clarke on Bookish Brews before (see my review for Livid Skies), and she writes the most refreshing and delightful science fiction. If you haven’t read any of her books, you are sorely missing out. Every time I read her books, my understanding of science fiction is expanded. I adore what the worlds that she builds, and I highly recommend checking out The Left Hand of Dog!

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Title: The Left Hand of Dog
Publisher: White Hart Fiction (indie-published)
Publication date: 17 August 2021
Genre: Science Fiction

An incredibly impressive sci-fi that is both humorous and challenging

At a glance: No one would have chosen Lem to be humanity’s first contact with aliens, but when Lem and her faithful dog, Spock, get kidnapped by alien bounty hunters aboard a ship called the Teapot, Lem and Spock must befriend an unlikely group of friends in order to escape.

  • 🍃 Easy Reading
  • ⏱️ Fast Paced
  • 🤔 Thought Provoking
  • 💭 Speculative Fiction

Read this if… you need a reminder that progress can happen even when we take a moment to laugh, or you need a reminder that comedy doesn’t have to be cruel, but it can be productive.

Diversity Representation: Ace; non-binary; in space, no one can hear you gender yourself

Content Warnings: Anaphylaxis, minor injury to a dog

Book Review

Delightful, challenging, fun, hilarious, weird, silly, light, adventurous

Left Hand of Dog is wonderfully charming and beautifully weird. I’ve read and adored SI Clarke’s Livid Skies, so when she reached out to me to read this I was immensely excited. This book still blew me away. I can’t stop thinking about how delightful this book is. It is exactly what I needed!

Quick Summary: Lem and her dog, Spock, have been kidnapped by aliens. Though no one would have chosen Lem to be humanity’s first contact with aliens, it looks like humanity’s doesn’t get to choose. Through a series of hilarious and charming events, Lem and Spock must band together with the others who have been kidnapped to find their way back home. Packed with preposterous scenarios, quirky characters, and oodles of humour, The Left Hand of Dog tackles complex subjects such as gender, the need to belong, and the importance of honest communication.

Left Hand of Dog is not only hilarious and light, but compelling and challenging. This book has taught me that speculative fiction can absolutely be incredibly weird and still make a valuable statement. Progress can happen even if we don’t take ourselves too seriously, because that can burn us out. I’m so impressed with the way SI Clarke was able to keep a light and humorous mood but still challenge our thinking on so many crucial topics. It was wonderful!

My favorite thing about this book was the brilliance of the universal translator. The way that the translator allowed different species to speak, understand and (most importantly) misunderstand each other was so clever. There were misunderstandings between Lem and the aliens because the aliens simply didn’t have a word for certain things. The translator allowed misunderstandings to happen and show us that some of our customs on earth are a little silly. It forces the reader to try and justify why we do certain things to someone who has never heard of these customs, from wearing clothes to pronouns. It was incredibly clever and helped these challenging questions to stay light and funny.

Left Hand of Dog is just what a lot of us need right now. With how heavy the world has been in the last year, this book is the perfect reminder that we have a lot of work to do as a society, but we can laugh along the way. How often are we gifted with a book that manages to challenge our beliefs and thought processes while maintaining a light and humorous mood? Not often enough. This book was a breath of fresh air.

Summing it all up

Left Hand of Dog was an absolute breath of fresh air. It impressed me the entire time how it could tackle challenging topics in a fun and humorous way. Progress is a difficult journey, but sometimes we deserve to laugh in the process. An absolute joy to read.

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About the Author

SI CLARKE is a misanthrope who lives in Deptford, sarf ees London. She shares her home with her partner and an assortment of waifs and strays. As someone who’s neurodivergent, an immigrant, and the proud owner of an invisible disability, she strives to present a diverse array of characters in her stories.

Let’s chat!

Have you read any humorous and challenging books lately?
Do you love when language is explored in sci-fi as much as I do?
What would you do if you were chosen to be the first contact between humans and aliens?!

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Want More Diverse Book Recommendations?

Check out the rest of my blog! I’m dedicated to sharing books with you that include diversity, so feel comfortable that any books on Bookish Brews will include some diversity.

If you liked this review or thought you might like this book, check out some of my other reviews for other challenging science fiction:

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Added to my TBR: The Left Hand of Dog by SI Clarke!

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*I received this book for free and am leaving this review voluntarily*