RIP, Ursula K. Le Guin

I’ve written a remembrance of Ursula K. Le Guin; it’s up at the Los Angeles Times.

As I wrote there:

“The speaking of her name and of her words goes on, and will go on, today and tomorrow and for a very long time now. As it should. She was the mother of so many of us, and you should take time to mourn your mother.”

65 thoughts on “RIP, Ursula K. Le Guin

  1. Please note: If you leave a comment here whining about the LA Times site having pop ups and ads, I’ll Mallet it into non-existence. Try to have at least the smallest sense of the moment, please.

    Otherwise, the floor is open to your own thoughts and remembrances of Ursula K. Le Guin.

  2. It is hard to see the authors who really matter pass beyond the veil. They are gone, but their work remains. The saddest thing is that they are not here to continue to add their perspective to our increasingly strange world. As exotic as the worlds created by LeGuin were at times, in their essence they held up a mirror on out own world and its times.

    I admit I did not read her entire catalog of works. Some was beyond me at the time I picked them up, while others are on that increasingly long list of books I need to get to.
    Godspeed and Blessed Be

  3. I read ‘The Dispossessed’ when I was twelve. In a way, it is similar to Omelas, but with more fleshed-out world’s. It changed how I thought about religion and politics and the purpose of a community. I don’t mean it changed my opinions; I mean it literally changed the questions I asked in my pursuit of understanding bigger picture things. It made me see potential and variance in humans as something far grander and more noble than I’d believed possible, certainly grander than the simplistic “check mark personalities” I had tried to categorize people in before.

    Somebody once said twelve is the golden age of science fiction, and I’m glad I found LeGuin at that age. I’m not a writer, not really, not yet, but I am a crisis center counselor and am involved in local government, and I can trace those passions back to the burning inspiration I got from ‘The Dispossessed’, that anyone can build a community intentionally, and can do it well so long as they are wise enough to ask the right questions. My hometown in Ohio can be continually built and rebuilt, reimagined, reinvigorated, without bloodshed and with the tech we have now; I have been certain of this since bearing witness to the creation and recreation of the worlds of the Hanish Cycle, regardless of the distinction between LeGuin’s fictional countries and my real one.

    I’ve only read Hanish Cycle, Earthsea cycle, Powers, and her short story collections; I’ve just yesterday begun Lathe of Heaven on audiobook. So, I know I’ve missed some of her classics, including her translations. Even so, the books of hers I have read had an outsize impact on me. I hope they can be passed on to others as well.

  4. I can’t think of anything better than Le Guin’s own words from ‘A Wizard of Earthsea’:

    Only in silence the word,
    only in dark the light,
    only in dying life:
    bright the hawk’s flight
    on the empty sky.

  5. I’m so sad tonight. Of all the authors I have read through out my life, she was my mother. Always. Thank you John.

  6. Ursula was a dear, sweet person and about self-effacing as they come–except when it came to talking about her writing and her career.

    I was lucky to encounter her over the years here in Portland. I was a co-chair of a Westercon here in Portland in 1990, and she was one of the GOHs, which is how I first met her, but we since encountered her at book stores and other events over the years, and I always enjoyed talking to her.

    I will miss her.

  7. I first encountered her work through the world of Earthsea as a kid – my dad is a huge fan and has many of her books, but Earthsea was what he read out to me as bedtime stories. I would read the first three books again and again over the years, comfortable in the familiar prose but always finding new nuance (regrettably, I read Tehanu when I was in an unfortunate snotty teenager phase and dismissed it for being less exciting and focused on “boring women’s stuff” – I need to return to it now that I’ve hopefully outgrown my edgelordy past self).

    A few years ago I decided to delve more deeply into her work and read Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed back-to-back, and was overwhelmed by just how good they are, how well crafted, strong both in world building and in how they speak strongly to themes that are still urgently relevant today. I have been continuing to read as much as I can – I raided my dad’s shelves of old paperbacks when I was home this past Christmas and added Rocannon’s World and Planet of Exile to my list – and this news has made me more determined to read as much as I can find.

    I was reeling when I heard the news (Wednesday morning in this hemisphere) and walked to my work’s bookshop to see if they had an Earthsea collection, intending to soothe myself in its familiarity. They did not, but they did have the edition of Always Coming Home with your introduction. It’s one of hers that I haven’t read, and now having seen your beautiful tribute I’ll sink into it tonight. The world won’t be as familiar as Earthsea, but I’m sure I’ll find comfort there just the same.

  8. I read Ursula’s “Earthsea” books every year, and have done so for probably the last forty years, since they were written. There is so much simple wisdom and insight in them that to this day, every year, I find another new morsel of her heart and mind when I read them.

    My oldest still used internet name, “Ramarren”, was the principal character in her book “City of Illusions” … An astrogator and a mathematician, who freed himself from the enemy who enslaved him on Earth, trying to find out the name of the star he came from so they could conquer his people too. He escaped to return home, warn his people, and assemble a fleet to come offer succor for subjugated Earth. It touched me deeply when I read it, and the character had to be my name on the computer system at NASA/JPL. The name of the star he came from, Eltanin, is the name of the star that makes the Eye of Draco; I’ve owned the “eltanin.org” domain for twenty plus years.

    I’ve always named my hard drives and computers after places and dragons in Earthsea. As I look at my desktop, I see Arrin, Arron, Atwa, and Yevaud: three islands of the Kargad Lands and the true name of the Dragon of Pendor.

    Three weeks after 9/11, she did a book signing and reading at Cody’s Books in Berkeley. People kept asking her what she thought about 9/11. Finally, she put up her hand. “Please. I am a writer, not a prophet or a politician. I am still in shock. It will take me probably most of the rest of the decade to sort out my feelings and start responding to them. Terrible tragedies like this cannot be answered to in a moment: they should be meditated over and thought about for months, years, before you come to an understanding and conclusion about them. Evil has been done: to overreact compounds the evil and allows it to win. Don’t do that.” And smiled. A standing ovation followed after a minute’s total silence. Gods, she was good!

    Thirty-five years ago, after corresponding with Ursula a couple of times, I found myself in Portland with little to do while waiting for my cousin’s wedding in Puyallup, WA. I called her, she said she had no appointments that week and would be home. We spent most of every afternoon the entire week sitting on her porch telling each other stories, and a lot of time with me just sitting with her, listening to the great notions and ideas in her mind.

    Ursula was very important in my life. She will be with me for all the rest of my days. I missed a chance to go visit her again over the past two-three years—I’d written, she said she’d make time if I could find the time to get there, and we spoke about it a few times in email but it never came to pass. I am sad I didn’t get to see her in person one more time.

    She was an extraordinary person. I loved her instantly, and always will. May she forever dance on the wind in the Uttermost West with Kalessin, Eldest, and his people.

    “Hope is a slighter, tougher thing even than trust… In a good season one trusts life; in a bad season one only hopes. But they are of the same essence: they are the mind’s indispensable relationship with other minds, with the world, and with time. Without trust, a man lives, but not a human life; without hope, he dies. When there is no relationship, where hands do not touch, emotion atrophies in void and intelligence goes sterile and obsessed. Between men the only link left is that of owner to slave, or murderer to victim.”
    – City of Illusions, Ursula K. Le Guin

    Godspeed, Ursula!

  9. I feel privileged to thank you on your own blog for that lovely piece of writing about the loss of an amazing author. Especially relating strongly to Heinlein & Asimov, & ‘harder’ sci fi & only later coming upon LeGuin doing vastly different, yet still fascinating things with writing. Thanks for putting all those things into words for those of us who can’t.

  10. Such a shock the news, though at age 88 it shouldn’t be – I just never thought of Ursula Le Guin as aging, or elderly.

    Her work could hit me like a freight train with its subversiveness, subtle or otherwise; and the sheer wonderfulness in how she told her tales. But after that, in months and years after that, I’d find that a single scene or image or bit of dialog had taken up permanent residence in my mind.

    Got to start re-reading….

  11. “You will die. You will not live forever. Nor will any man nor any thing. Nothing is immortal. But only to us is it given to know that we must die. And that is a great gift: the gift of selfhood. For we have only what we know we must lose, what we are willing to lose….That selfhood which is our torment, and our treasure, and our humanity, does not endure. It changes; it is gone, a wave on the sea. Would you have the sea grow still and the tides cease, to save one wave, to save yourself? Would you give up the craft of your hands, and the passion of your heart, and the light of sunrise and sunset, to buy safety for yourself—safety forever? That is what they seek to do on Wathort and Lorbanery and elsewhere. That is the message that those who know how to hear have heard: By denying life you may deny death and live forever!—And this message I do not hear, Arren, for I will not hear it. I will not take the counsel of despair.”

  12. “Always Coming Home” is what made me a writer, I think. I marveled at the craft of telling a story with the spaces between the stories, a story that was as much what wasn’t said as what was, what was considered important enough to tell and what was beneath notice. Ursula was one-third of my personal triumvirate; the other two are Jane Yolen and Tanith Lee. Tanith’s gone, too, and her last social media post is such a fitting tribute to a life of writing wonders, I can’t do any better than to reproduce it here:

    Though we come and go, and pass into the shadows, where we leave behind us stories told – on paper, on the wings of butterflies, on the wind, on the hearts of others – there we are remembered, there we work magic and great change – passing on the fire like a torch – forever and forever. Till the sky falls, and all things are flawless and need no words at all.

  13. I haven’t read the Earthsea books since the early 1970s, when I was at that “golden age” of twelve or so. Maybe it’s time to take another look with my older eyes.

    Ursula Le Guin is one of the writers who seemed godlike to me as a science fiction-obsessed child, and one of the last of that group still left. I always wanted to meet her, with no idea what I’d say. Except, “Thank you.”

  14. Dammit.

    Her translation of the Tao te Ching has been a comfort and illumination in my life many times. I can see a re-read in the near future.

    And then there’s the impact of her speculative fiction work. She hall be greatly missed.

  15. As a reader who grew up with the SciFi of the 70’s, LeGuin was the writer who taught me that science fiction (and fantasy) didn’t have to be about blowing up spaceships and killing dragons. That the advantage of creating your own world was that you could question the foundations of this one. She introduced me to concepts like anarchism and bisexuality … ideas that would eventually change my outlook on life.

    I know she had a good, long life, but I wouldn’t have complained had it been a little longer.

  16. I haven’t read much of Le Guin’s work. I read The Left Hand of Darkness as a teenager, but can’t remember anything about it. It’s difficult to call myself a fan, but…

    One of my favorite books of all time is The Lathe of Heaven. I also love the movie. I still have the newspaper story about the movie when it was released in 1980. The talk of “state-of-the-art” special effects is laughable, but the story is what sells the movie for me. I’ve even done a pilgrimage to many of the filming locations. I lost my virginity in one of them, but that’s a totally different story.

    I saw an interview with Le Guin where she said The Lathe of Heaven was written before she found her true voice (as a woman). It doesn’t stop it from speaking to me.

    By all means, avoid the 2002 movie version, which omits the article of the title and a lot of the substance of the book.

  17. Despite the great stories and characters and alternative perspectives on the genre, it was the prose that got me more than anything. Unequaled in the field. Clear, not functional; poetic but not obscure; clever when necessary but never just for the sake of it. A pillar indeed.

  18. I read an excerpt from “A Wizard of Earthsea” in a reading textbook when I was about ten. It took me three more years of searching to find the actual book, bugging the librarians in the tiny libraries of two counties. I think her short story collections were my favorites, though. The final paragraph from “The Author of the Acacia Seeds” comes to mind: “And with them, or after them, may there not come that even bolder adventurer – the first geolinguist, who, ignoring the delicate, transient lyrics of the lichen, will read beneath it the still less communicative, still more passive, wholly atemporal, cold, volcanic poetry of the rocks; each one a word spoken, how long ago, by the earth itself, in the immense solitude, the immenser community, of space.”

  19. An FYI: Your LA Times tribute is the third story on my Facebook wall’s “trending news stories” right now. Just thought you’d want to know that it’s getting the audience it deserves. Well said & well written – I’m sorry for your loss…

  20. Thank you, John, for sharing words that speak much of what I’m feeling.
    There is no shame in being a teller of simple tales for the purpose of exciting, entertaining, engaging an audience- indeed, it’s one of the finest ways I can think of to feed the connections between people and life.
    And there is certainly honor in being a crafter of ideas, focused on bringing forth thought and imagination and setting readers forth on their own inner journeys of discovery.
    Many of us know and share the pure delight of dancing, painting, playing, wrestling, sculpting with words, that most plastic and demanding of the Great Media. Springing from joyful self-indulgence, it can also be a profound gift to the listening spirits.
    To partake of all three skills, employ them simultaneously and effortlessly to the delight of millions is a blessing given very few. These are treasures of our species. So LeGuin enriched us, and has gone. But her stories, ideas, and words remain treasures imperishable while we continue to share them with each other.

  21. After many years of reading her work, I wrote a letter to her. I said that I felt stupid saying, “Gee I like your books”, but I realized that a thank-you note was never a bad idea. So I thanked her for Ged, and Shevek, and the moz of The Telling, and her Tao Te Ching translation that never leaves my work bag, and the other parts of her in my life..

    She wrote a note to tell me that my letter had made her smile on a grey day.

    I hope she’s dancing on the Other Wind.

  22. My internal sobs are silently ebbing because Ursula would not have wanted such drama. She will be with me forever.

    I didn’t mention in what I wrote before: when I was finally realizing that I was gay and coming out in the middle to late 1990s, I wrote Ursula in the emotional distress of the moment a fractured and hysterical letter, a call for help from one in pain. From that ensued about five or six letter exchanges and some of the most soothing, sensible, calming wisdom I ever received from anyone.

    She always took the time, whatever she had, to respond anyone who cared to communicate with her. Her heart was always open and given without regret or remorse.

    “The only things truly worth having can only be given away. They cannot be bought, nor sold, nor grasped too tightly lest they wring the life from your hands and absorb your spirit into dust. They can only be given, with an open heart and clear eyes.”
    – Journal Notes, after reading one of Ursula’s books.

  23. I wrote Le Guin a fan letter some years ago, thanking her for all my favorite bits of her work, and for turning me on to Islandia and getting me to give Dickens another try. She wrote me a personal letter back. I framed it.

  24. Not well-read in Ursula’s work, but I stumbled onto a quote which is retrospectively profound on a personal level:

    “There’s a point, around the age of twenty, when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life, or to make a virtue of your peculiarities.”

    Thank you.

  25. “We will need writers who can remember freedom.”
    Ursula K. Le Guin; 2014.

    I read the Earthsea books when I was fourteen or fifteen. I read The left hand of darkness about a year later. Both experiences changed me. She was – is – a wonderful writer.
    I didn’t know her, so I feel no personal grief at this moment. Just a deep thankfulness and, as always when I think of her, awe.

    (The above quote came from Le Guin’s acceptance speech at the 2014 National Book Awards, when she won the lifetime achievement award:
    https://youtu.be/5PI1xwT2-74 )

  26. I was in my late teens whenIwatchedan adaptation of The Lathe of Heaven on PBS. I watched it with my Dad who also passed away, age 89, just two short months ago. We talked about the story both during and after. About what she was trying to say and how and why it was important. So here I sit on a deserted area (thankfully) of the Prague airport, in tears reading of her passing.

  27. I too loved Always Coming Home. It reads like an anthropological ethnography in many ways, which makes sense, as her parents were anthropologists.
    Suzette Haden Elgin called people like her science fiction elders, and as our elder she was teaching us all simply by living her life, writing what she felt called to write, and putting it out for us all to read, enjoy and learn from.
    Rest well, Elder Le Guin. We will miss you.

  28. Oh. My. At a loss of words. So I’ll just have to quote Neil Gaiman, because he says best what I feel: “Her words are always with us. Some of them are written on my soul.”

  29. I learnt this news here, from this post, and I was impersonally sad at the passing of a great science fiction writer. Then I read your LATImes tribute where I was reminded, as I had completely forgotten, that Ursula K. Le Guin wrote “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”, and I was suddenly weeping at my computer screen.

  30. I tried to write a tribute, but found that I could only bow in silence before her eloquence.

    But yours is very fine, the best tribute I’ve seen so far I’m especially intrigued that you were so touched by Always Coming Home, so very different as it is from your own work. You say that it’s not generally considered one of her great books. I hadn’t noticed that evaluation, but I won’t argue with it as a perception.

    For me, though, ACH is not simply the right book at the right time, as it was for you, but both her magnum opus and her masterpiece. Most favorite authors I either discover after their masterwork is published, or else it takes me a while to absorb it and appreciate it as I already do the earlier work I already now. In this case alone did I find a new book by an author I already loved that instantly became my favorite. I am awed not just by the achievement, but by the kind of achievement it is: not a story, though it has stories in it, but a full-scale anthropological portrait of an imaginary people. Like you, I’m a Californian by origin, and I’m from landscape nearby and similar to that of the Kesh. This book is rooted in the place it tells about, right down into the soil.

  31. Oh, man. I saw “Earthsea” when it was on TV, but somehow never managed to pick up a book of hers. Her name’s always on my buy-list, though, but I guess I just don’t know where to start. She’s written so much, but doesn’t have much space on the shelf at the B&N so I can get a good grasp of where her lit goes. I don’t know other sci-fi fans around me who’d read more than Star Wars novelizations, so I can’t ask anybody. Any recommendations for a good book to acquaint myself with the dear lady’s style?

    Also, thanks for showing that book cover–very apropos. It actually looks like a book I need to get right now.

  32. She was the second SF author I read (after Tolkien) and will always have a place in my heart. I also just picked up _No_Time_To_Spare and look forward to reading it this weekend.

  33. Kaci, Catwings is on my kids’ bookshelf & has been since my eldest was a toddler. I figure it’s never too early to get them started on my favorites.

  34. TheChattyIntrovert, for fantasy start with A Wizard of Earthsea.

    For her SF, start with The Dispossessed.

    But really there’s no wrong place to start.

    I envy you reading her for the first time.

  35. I wrote my master’s thesis on Le Guin, which, by odd coincidence, I was just discussing with a colleague yesterday. I hadn’t really thought much about it in years. I woke up today to the news. I’m sorry I never got the chance to meet her and tell her how much her writing meant to me.

  36. As a teen in the late 70’s, and a devourer of sf, I never really “got” LeGuin, but even then I was becoming aware that she was kind of hugely important, and that the shortcoming was mine.
    Perhaps I shoudl try again, now I am quite a way from being a teenager.

  37. I always remember reading The Left Hand of Darkness as a teenager in the 70’s and how it exploded my mind on so many different levels. I have adored her work over the years. Most recently I read The Birthday of the World: And Other Stories and was reminded yet again of what an amazing writer she was.

    Your remembrance of her was balm for a wounded reader’s soul. Thank you.

  38. I don’t think I’ve re-read Earthsea books for a few decades now. But some scenes from those books are still vivid in my memory. She could *WRITE*.

    I think I see some influence of “Always Coming Home” in the latter third of “Redshirts”.

  39. It is rare that you can actually point to a person who changed your life, and Ursula LeGuin was that person for me. The first time in my life that someone my age ever recommended a book to me was in 1985, when a third grade classmate handed me a copy of A Wizard of Earthsea, and said “you need to read this”. It is not an overstatement to say that Ms. LeGuin’s writing taught me empathy, and gave me the deep love of books that I still have to this day. I have many books and stories that I love, but if you ask me my favorite, even 33 years later, the answer is still Earthsea. Thank you, Ms. LeGuin, for changing my life.

  40. It’s a while since I’ve read her books, but Left Hand of Darkness has always been something of a touchstone for me. It really opened my mind to how people could differ, and at just the right age, too (late teens). A life well lived, and with such a great legacy.

  41. There is a lot of sf that I enjoyed over the years. And then there is the rare story that rearranges my molecules.

    “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” affected me on a cellular level. It rewrote my dna. It changed the colors i percieved in the world.

    Le Guin was one of the greats. And some of the color has gone out of the world with her passing.

  42. The top of my bookcase, enclosed with amethyst chunk bookends, is where my absolute favorite writers’ books are. These are the books I actually need to reread to be mentally stable. All of hers are with Dorothy L Sayers and Sherri S Tepper. There are stories in Changing Planes that come back to me over and over. (John, you also have a dedicated shelf on another bookcase!)

  43. I was standing in front of the Science Fiction/Fantasy section in the Flint Public Library looking for something I hadn’t read when a young woman a few years younger than myself (23) standing next to me recommended “The Lathe of Heaven“ by Ursula K. Le Guin. Wow, why I hadn’t read any Le Guin before then? Afterwards I read “The Left Hand of Darkness” then “The Dispossessed” and later her short story collections.

    Today, 35 years later I read from Le Guin’s translation of the “Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching” as a Yoga teacher.

  44. “Left Hand of Darkness” is still my default Best SF Novel. (There may be/probably are better ones, but I have kind of moved past the age where I put everything into lists.) Winds Twelve Quarters and the first two books of Earthsea are pretty deep in my psyche as well. She lived a long full life by all accounts and has more chance of being remembered for centuries than most of us. So in an odd way I feel less “sad” about this death than others. But it still marks a melancholy passage and I wish all the best for her family and close friends. For me, her word is still part of the making of this world.

  45. Her work was the first in Sci fi/fantasy that I found unpredictable. Gone were the bedrock tropes of macho heros and rescued maidens. There were old women. They were fierce, thinking old women dispensing compassion and wisdom and guidance who had an equal part in the story. There were couples separated by political upheavel who grew together, apart and together.There were aliens more humane than humans. There were worlds where the word for the world was forest.

    For a Northwest girl this was a balm and a kick in the pants at the same time.

    Through all her work, love it or mystfied by it, she remained true like an arrow shot through our world that will not be bent from its target.

    Though many have wonderful stories of encounters, my own are simple. This one stands out… a transaction with her and her husband selling them books in the Portland mystery book store where I worked on a darkly internal rain drenched day. The room was dimmly lit and there were only the three of us. It made an impression because it was profoundly simple.

    Her gifts keep giving. For instance, her daughter who taught my own daughter and awakened an interest in anthropology/archeology that has become a carreer. A strong parent who raises strong children leaves gifts as great as books. It seems she lived the moral ethos of her written worlds.

    I will miss her writings and presence more than I can know now, but will come to understand better as the years go on. If I had a bow and arrow today my target would be the farthest shore.

  46. RIP, Ms Le Guin. We seem to be losing so many people lately, both local friends and cultural touchstones. Musicians, artists, activists, co-workers and buddies. I’m no spring chicken, at 67, and I really hate to see people much younger than I passing away so early in their lives.

    Back in the 50s and 60s Le Guin was one of the first SF writers I found who wasn’t writing traditionally plotted science fiction. It was wonderful to learn about the human condition in her calm prose. Mostly calm, I guess.

    Her person shall be missed, her work will live on for a very long time.

    John, thanks for your memorial piece, I enjoyed reading it. Commenters, thanks for sharing your experience of Ursula’s life and literature.

  47. Deep sigh… Thanks John for having this blog. I came here for some remembrance, and you all delivered. So many good stories, “Lathe of Heaven” stands highest in my memory. Every time I’d see this book in a used book store I’d buy it, and then give it away to someone who I thought might need it. Be true to yourself. I’m going to have to go buy another copy, ’cause I don’t have it on my shelf, and now I need to read it again.

  48. Le Guin was one of my favorites when I was a kid. I found a box set of her Earthsea books (a trilogy at that point) and devoured them. I must have read those books a dozen of times. She was an amazing writer who inspired and entertained. Lamento mucho esta gran pérdida.

  49. I feel sad that I’ve never read Always Coming Home. So many of Le Guin’s books made a deep impression on me. The Tombs of A’Tuan when I was very young. Rocannon’s World a few years later. The Lathe of Heaven in high school. The Dispossessed in college. A Fisherman of the Inland Sea a decade or so ago. Over and over, her works resonated for me. I recently read Lavinia for the first time. Always Coming Home is going on my to-read list immediately.

  50. Le Guin was one of the authors that inspire you to reach beyond yourself. That tne Wizard pf Earthsea was also a philosopher was eye opening to a seventies introverted teen.

  51. A giant has left the field. Her prose was so clean that I didn’t always appreciate the underlying artistry.

    Last month I had surgery so I had a lot of time to read while recuperating. I went on a Le Guin binge. The highlight was the two-volume collection short work, The Unreal and The Real. The stories were great of course but her introductions were beyond delightful. They were full of life and showed a refreshingly wry personality.

    I gave my mother the book/cassette package of Always Coming Home when it came out. The book itself is great (what with the way all the different pieces form a whole), but the tape added a whole different dimension. Very inventive.

    We’ve lost a lot of great creators in the last 12 months. This is getting old.

  52. My favorite of hers is The Lathe of Heaven. (The 80s TV movie with Bruce Davison was pretty good, to boot.) Maybe it’s just because it’s the first book of hers that I read, but…damn. Haven’t read The Dispossessed yet, but it’s been sitting on my shelf for a while and I will get to it eventually. But I read The Left Hand of Darkness a year or two ago and it rocked my world yet again. Her books aren’t just thought-provoking, they’re groundbreaking, and if her work weren’t mostly genre stuff, I think she would already be considered one of American literature’s greatest talents. She’s right up there with Twain and Faulkner.

  53. One of the things my high school got right in it’s curriculum – The Wizard of Earthsea was one of the books we read in 7th grade English class. Not a lot of my classmates cared for it, but at that age not many of them cared for assigned books. (Except me – I was a nerd who had already read all of Tolkien by that point, including The Silmarillion and I loved reading assignments. Book reports, not so much, but I was totally down with the reading part.) And I loved that book. It’s still one of my favorites.

    She was the first author whose work I pursued outside of the one we had to read in class and, now that I think about it, the first woman whose work I followed at all.

    I live in a small town – so small that the high school library and the public library were one and the same – and the only books of hers they had were the first three Earthsea books. Sadly, it never really occurred to me to chase down any more of her work when I was old enough to actually drive places or when this “Amazon” thing came along.

    Definitely going to rectify that now – apparently I have seriously missed out.

  54. I enjoyed the Earthsea books but it was Lavinia that I really adored, maybe because it came during a phase of reading ancient classics, but her extension and expansion of The Aeneid was, to me, awesome.

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