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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin has died

The New York Times, National Public Radio, and other news outlets are reporting the death of Ursula K. Le Guin, an author, mostly of fantastic literature, at the age of 88. She passed away on January 22, 2018, in Portland, Oregon, her long-time home.

Le Guin wrote carefully and well, and with a deep understanding of the human condition. Her parents were anthropologists, and the background of some of her novels reflected that -- different societies and races were portrayed in credible ways. The most different society is that of Gethen, where the inhabitants are mostly non-sexual, externally or in thought, for most of the time, but enter a sexual phase, where they can be either male or female, every few weeks. Gethen is also remarkable because it is so cold most of the time. The people have adapted to this in various ways. See here and here for my posts on the novel about Gethen, The Left Hand of Darkness. The Tombs of Atuan presented a religion, and its practices and those who led in worship, in a credible way. That book is part of a trilogy, with A Wizard of Earthsea and The Farthest Shore as the first and third books. The books have one character, Ged, who matures and changes roles as the stories progress. The trilogy, about the wizards, and the planet with so many islands, and with dragons, was extended later.

Le Guin's The Dispossessed was about two different societies, and their political and economic systems, seemingly very different. See here for my post on that novel.

The books cited above won numerous awards, which were well-deserved. Le Guin was also outspoken about fantastic literature, arguing that it really is literature, and that it is, or at least can be, important.

Le Guin was, as far as I know, a Taoist.

I shall miss expecting new works from her. May she rest in peace, really.

Thanks for reading. Read Le Guin.

2 comments:

Weekend Fisher said...

I remember reading the Earthsea books when I was school-aged, and enjoying them. I am sorry to hear she has gone.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Martin LaBar said...

Yes. Me, too.

Thanks for your comment.