Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ursula K. Le Guin

If we're making a list of authors I'd like to grow up to be, Ursula K. Le Guin is always near the top. It's probably surprising to many people who know me, but I never managed to read the Earthsea Cycle. Left Hand of Darkness, however, was very big for me, and The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia is one of my favorite books in any genre. I've also gotten a good deal of use out of Steering the Craft and Dancing at the Edge of the World. I highly recommend both.

Le Guin has been hugely prolific, both in terms of fiction and essays, many of which you can find either on or linked from her site.

So the thing about Le Guin is, first, that's she's brilliant. Not just in terms of her prose, but this is a woman with a tremendously expansive mind, capable of keeping track of and treating subtly dozens of interconnected imaginary mores and social nuances, while never losing sight of all the things she has to say about real society- and she's always struck me as someone using her immense creative power for good (and by good, I mean social justice, greater understanding between cultures, gender equality, basic human dignity, and so on, roll your eyes if you must, Jonathan).

As a point of trivia, Le Guin's father, Alfred L. Kroeber, was a student of Franz Boas and one of the first and foremost American anthropologists. Her mother was also an anthropologist and biographer, particularly noted for her english recountings of native american myths and legends.

Here are some of the awards Ursula K. Le Guin has won:
-five Hugo awards
-six Nebula awards
-Gandalf Grand Master Award
-SFFWA Grand Master Award
-nineteen Locus awards
-Lifetime Achievement (World Fantasy Awards)
-National Book Award for Children's Books
-Living Legends (Library of Congress)
-PEN/Malamud Award
-Emperor Has No Clothes award (Freedom From Religion Foundation)

So, yeah, basically she's my hero.

1 comment:

  1. As an anthropologist/archaeologist and sci-fi/fiction author, I find her both more important, significant, and less. I Really understand that her training made the creation of worlds, etc much easier. The depth of character and place came from actually understanding people and cultures.

    Christopher Geoffries