Ursula Le Guin

A few weeks ago, Ursula K. Le Guin died.  She was one of the bad-ass bosses of fantasy/SF writing, and with her passing it feels like a whole era is ending.  She was also one of the writers who inspired me as a kid, first through sheer love of reading her books – A  Wizard of Earthsea basically got me into fantasy along with Pratchett’s Discworld – and later through a growing awareness of the role of women writers in the field.  ‘Cos fantasy/SF is still pretty firmly male.  Many many awesome males, but still more than there are women, and more sitting cosy at the top of that ladder too.  A huge number of the dudes who have achieved praise and success have done so because of their stunning awesome; but if Sad Puppies taught us anything in recent years, it’s that there are still a vocal bunch of loons who will not read a book simply because it’s by either a) a woman or b) anyone from pretty much any ethnic minority.

See also: being that kind of angry about Star Wars: the Last Jedi.

At times like this, being able to look at my bookshelves and find the works of Le Guin were both a huge comfort, but also an inspiration.  Not merely in how beautiful her writing is, and how clear her ideas, but in that here was a woman who could stand up and call bullshit, and the regular barrage of dismissals that are flung around – “oh, she’s just bitter” or “she’s trying to suck the fun out of books!” just washed straight off her.  Because she’s Ursula Le Guin, the Batman of SF.

She changed my childhood and my world; and the genre and the lives of thousands and thousands of people who love stories and words.  RIP Ursula Le Guin, who rocked the galaxy.



  1. Just finished your book Touch – picked up a remaindered copy, sorry. Great read, very inventive. I’m looking forward to reading more.

    I’m an Ursula Le Guin fan too! but only one book: The word for world is forest.


    Kind regards

  2. As much as I like Le Guin’s stories, her writing often leaves me feeling chided, which is not why I read science fiction. I like your books because they don’t try to convince me to change my attitude, but rather they operate from the assumption that women are are equal to men and then demonstrate it. That forces me to change my attitude towards women much more effectively than chiding ever does.

    There may not be enough women sf writers, but the women who do write sf are the equals of the very best of the men. C. L. Moore, James Tiptree, Norton, Le Guin, Cherryh, Willis, Bujold, and on the fantasy side, Bradley, Kurtz, Wrede, McKillip, and Lackey have all done their part to demonstrate that the best-quality writing is not an exclusively male province.

    And call me partisan, but I highly prefer your works (the ones I’ve read, at least) to the works of the male writers you get compared to in reviews. The reviewers should not be asking whether you measure up to the other, male writers who deal with urban magic, but should rather be asking whether their writing measures up to yours.

  3. Always Coming Home by Le Guin, my favourite book of all time. It should be entitled ‘how to write an non-perfect utopia’ and taught in all schools just because, no other reason – just because it exists.

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