Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Ursula Le Guin 1929-2018

I don't generally write too much about genre authors in the blog, though my reading through my teens was dominated by science fiction and some forays into fantasy.  I thought I should take the time to mark the passing of one of the giants of the field - Ursula Le Guin.  Generally, I would pair Ursula Le Guin with Roger Zelazny as innovators that did something quite new with the field, delving more into myth (in Zelazny's case) and getting more into the anthropological side of non-human societies (in Le Guin's case).  It's been decades since I read The Left Hand of Darkness, but I still remember what an amazing thing it was to conceive of a species who could change gender in response to environmental stress.  While it was a much slighter affair, Changing Planes has a more playful approach to world building.

I recently introduced my son to the Earthsea Trilogy (I think the other novels are still a bit beyond him).  Imagine my surprise when I learned that she had added another 3 novels to the original trilogy!  I haven't decided when I will try to tackle them, but maybe next year (perhaps slotting them in after DeLillo's Cosmopolis?).  I see that at some point in 2018, an illustrated omnibus edition of The Earthsea Saga (including The Daughter of Odren) is supposed to be coming out, though I may decide I don't really need this.

I did buy relatively recently two of her short fiction collections for the Kindle, but I haven't gotten that far through them.  One is called The Found and the Lost and is comprised of novellas, including Vaster Than Empires and More Slow, which I just need to sit down and read.  The other is called The Unreal and the Real.  At a minimum, I should read "The Wild Girls" and "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas."  I'm fairly sure I read her earlier collections The Wind's Twelve Quarters and The Compass Rose, but that would have been a long time ago.

In addition to the Earthsea Trilogy, The Left Hand of Darkness and Changing Planes, I read The Lathe of Heaven.  I probably read The Dispossessed, but I am not certain.  I think I probably did not read The Word for World is Forest.  I know I did not read Malafrena nor Orsinian Tales.  Most of her novels and stories are now collected into 3 LOA volumes.  I'm not in any huge hurry, so perhaps in a few years I'll see if I can pick these up and then go through the Hainish cycle in the proper order.  Always Coming Home was also recommended as another one of her anthropological tales, but probably one to read when in the right frame of mind, i.e. not as a typical subway commute book.

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