Remembering Ursula K. Le Guin

Did you all hear the news that legendary SF author Ursula K. Le Guin passed away recently? Her death leaves a great disturbance in the Force, to cross a few genre threads. She was one of the giants of science fiction and fantasy. And, thankfully, she was acknowledged for it during her lifetime — she won all the major genre awards (Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and the World Fantasy Award) and was only the second woman to be named a Grand Master of Science Fiction (after Andre Norton).

I was always awed by her mastery of storytelling at any length, whether short story or novella or full-length novel. And storytelling for all ages, from picture books to YA to adult — very few writers can do that! Her writing was both precise and poetic, crystalline and immediately recognizable. She was interested in ethnography and sociology, how peoples relate to each other, what cultural assumptions we make without knowing. (For example, The Left Hand of Darkness is, famously, all about deconstructing gender.) But she was brilliant at character, too, and worldbuilding. How can one person be so good at so many aspects of writing? Yet she was.

Personally, I’ve read about 10 or 15 of her books. Earthsea (a trilogy at the time) was my first exposure, as it was for many. Later I went on to The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness, her later Earthsea books and her collections of shorter works. I never got as far as her poetry …

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