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25 January 2018, 01:16 | Ivan Casey
Things We Saw Today: RIP Ursula K. Le Guin, The Queen of Fantasy
She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters previous year. "Indignation is still the right response to indignity, to disrespect", she writes, "but in the present moral climate it seems to be most effective expressed through steady, resolute, morally committed behavior and action".
Eleanor Wachtel speaks with the "high priestess of fantasy and science fiction" American writer Ursula K. LeGuin. "Godspeed into the galaxy", tweeted King.
The acclaimed author penned everything from short stories to children's books, but was best known for her work in the science fiction and fantasy realm.
She influenced generations of authors from Margaret Atwood to Neil Gaiman - and wrote about a boy wizard 30 years before Harry Potter. I miss her as a glorious amusing prickly person, & I miss her as the deepest and smartest of the writers, too. She wrote about gender and race with an anthropologist's eye, challenging preconceptions about both.
Le Guin was a feminist and an environmentalist with deep interests in anarchism and taoism.
In her writing and in her life, Ursula Le Guin refused to blindly accept how the world is supposed to work. "The feminism movement of the '60s, '70s and '80s moved us gradually out of that, but we're not all the way out, believe me".
She unsuccessfully submitted her first story at age 11 before being published in the early 1960s. When those books didn't sell, she made a decision to try her hand at straight-ahead science fiction, and "Rocannon's World" was released in 1966.
Le Guin considered Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" and John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" great books.
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.
Le Guin's work has won Hugo, Nebula, Locus and World Fantasy awards. 2004 saw an adaptation of Earthsea done for Sci Fi that Le Guin thought "whitewashed" many of her diverse characters.
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Le Guin is the author of dozens of books, including 20 novels, six collections of poetry and over 100 short stories. In her acceptance speech, she spoke prophetically of the hard years ahead for the country - and in praise of the quality that runs so freely through her books: imagination.
Le Guin was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 2014 National Book Awards. She decries Obama's "false figures and false promises" and Romney's "faked figures and evasive vagueness".
Le Guin was born Ursula Kroeber in Berkeley, California. Her father had told her, she said, that the word "genius" should be "saved for people who were really different in kind from other people - sui generis". We live in capitalism. And her fantasy worlds aren't magical; they're there to test the limits of language, cultural differences, power and humanity.
"The profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art". And I always think about Le Guin when I hear that.
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