Acclaimed American science fiction author Ursula K Le Guin dies at 88

Jenna Warner
January 25, 2018

'Not just a science fiction writer; a literary icon. "Godspeed into the galaxy", tweeted King. A new book, "Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing" from Tin House Books, is set to be released on July 17. Because she dreamed it, we already have a word for it. "Some of them are written on my soul", he wrote. Her mother, Theodora Quinn Kroeber, wrote the biography "Ishi in Two Worlds". Her parents were both anthropologists.

That interest in the science of human behavior would fuel Le Guin's own writing career.

I removed the word because it made her uncomfortable.

She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1951, and earned a master's degree in romance literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance from Columbia University in 1952. She wrote non-white heroes in her novels, and was frustrated by whitewashing artwork and screen adaptations that betrayed her intentions. Her books have sold millions of copies worldwide and have been translated into over 40 languages.

To Le Guin, this genre envisioning was a moral necessity.

In 1969, Le Guin published The Left Hand of Darkness, which was about a planet where people aren't assigned a gender but rather adopt one for brief periods of reproduction.

She's probably best known for her Earthsea quartet of books, an epic sword and sorcery tale that followers the titular protagonist on a quest to discover the value of morality within magic.

Ursula was born in Berkeley, California in 1929, and wrote from an early age - she suffered her first disappointment at age 11 when a piece she wrote was rejected by the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories. This book has been in print for nearly 50 years. In 2014, she was awarded the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. We live in Capitalism, its power seems inescapable. She inspired a generation of writers to unshackle from realism - a mode she once accused of centering the human undeservedly - in favor of her wide and generous vision. "The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art".

Le Guin said she never heard anyone over 70 utter the phrase, "You're only as young as you think you are". If you haven't read Le Guin yet, may I suggest a short story that encapsulates a lot of her political and social concerns, the masterful (if rather disturbing) The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.

URSULA K LE GUIN: Poets, visionaries, the realists of a larger reality - right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. "We not only love her; we need her". "In her speech, given at the 1973 ceremony, she used her time to emphasize the seriousness of science fiction and fantasy". She said, (reading) where I can get prickly and combative is if I'm just called a sci-fi writer. "Why should she live her life on his terms?"

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