Ursula K. Le Guin passes away.

January 24, 2018 | By | 1 Reply More

Fantasy and science fiction author Ursula K. (for her maiden name: Kroeber) Le Guin has sadly passed away on Monday 22nd January 2018, her family inform us.

Ursula earned the title ‘one of the greats’, as is reflected by her death actually being mentioned on the BBC main news and in all the broadsheets. She was best known for her Earthsea and Hainish Cycle series.

Earthsea is the work that has been the subject of two film adaptions which she largely disapproved of for missing the subtleties of her books – Studio Ghibli founder Gorō Miyazaki’s okayish anime version, as well as SyFy’s not-so-good ‘Legend of Earthsea’.

Even I could see the latter was crap, and I’m not the disappointed creator!

Ursula K. Le Guin passes away.

Ursula K. Le Guin passes away.

Ursula was a proper product of the 1950s and 1960s Californian counterculture. Her books featured early environmentalist themes largely lost on the thick-as-mutton critics of the time (her work was disparagingly referred to as ‘soft science fiction’, a label she loathed). She flirted with anarchism – the real political ethos, as opposed to the ‘Brick-through-McDonalds’ thuglife – and adopted Taoism as her life code. She was in the same high school class as Philip K Dick where both had a shared fascination with the I Ching.

Ursula later crafted her writing name by double-barrelling and concatenating her Kroeber surname after marrying a Frenchman, Charles Le Guin, while travelling in France writing on a literary grant. I believe Charles is still alive and acting as Emeritus Professor of History at Portland State University, as, I think, are their two daughters and son.

For all the mass media mentions her death is now attracting, mainstream book critics largely ignored her work, and nary a non-genre award came her way (plenty of Hugos and Nebulas, though, of course).

The Hainish novels were true classics, with The Left Hand of Darkness standing out. From memory, they featured a universe colonised by sub-light travel, but possessing instantaneous comms, allowing for a kind of no-touch galactic proto-internet, allowing her to explores themes such as gender, religion and race without a blaster-ridden space opera body count.

Goodbye, Ursula. Your books were fabulous. We salute you.

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Category: Books, Scifi

About the Author ()

Colonel Frog is a long time science fiction and fantasy fan. He loves reading novels in the field, and he also enjoys watching movies (as well as reading lots of other genre books).

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  1. David M. Lee-Smith says:

    Others might have already pointed this out: Ms Le Guin received the US National Author Award (sorry, that is not quite the correct title) in 2016 or 2017, so she did at last get some of the recognition she deserved from the wider literary/reading audience (beyond the SF/Fantasy readership) . Some of her books are part of English Literature courses taught here in New Zealand at the Victoria University of Wellington. Not only was she a major author of the 20th and early 21st Centuries, she was also a gracious and unpretentious human being.

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