Ursula K. Le Guin RIP


I have a vague distant memory of some WNET production.


Well this is sad. I practically memorized parts of the Earthsea books as a kid.

I loved the way those books were so…spare? sparse? The long stretches of the main character by him/her self (depending on the book). I loved the passages about Ged sailing basically across the whole world over the course of the books.
I haven’t read anything else like them.

I liked The Left Hand of Darkness as well, I should definitely check out her other stuff.

edit: sorry this shouldn’t be a reply to Timemaster_Tim, I keep forgetting to be careful about how I’m posting…


Austere, perhaps? These were the first books I ever read that didn’t have a pat ending and which featured realistically challenged human characters unable to simply act in the external world to solve their interior problems. The combination of those qualities with the unique presentation of magic in the series – its profundity, its immanence, and its ultimate insignificance – was deeply transformative for me.


Yes perfect!
And to your words which I agree with I would add that the magic was based on the proper names of things was really powerful to me as well. I doubt this was the first version of that idea but it was certainly the first and most powerful I’ve come across.


The Word For World Is Forest was a memorable read.


From a Facebook post by Mikhail Iossel

In 1987, Ursula K. Le Guin was asked to write a blurb for a science fiction anthology showcasing established and up-and-coming writers alike – yet it contained no stories by women. This was Le Guin’s response (from Shaun Usher’s Letters of Note):


I named one of my X-Piratez gals after UKLG. She got killed, though. RIP.


Yeah here it is

Plus there was a 2002 TV movie?


Yup, that’s it.


Interview with her on Fresh Air went up today:


Discussion of a Margaret Atwood book and the controversy around Atwood’s take on SF on the Coode Street Podcast

Particularly interesting to also read Margaret Atwood’s tribute after listening to the above:


Wizard of Earthsea was a pretty big part of my childhood dive into fantasy. I was completely fascinated with the idea that learning the “true” name of something would give you power over it. So it was no surprise when I first started using online names, I went for Ged (although I found early it usually taken early on, so adopted the extra “d”). I had a few games with alts named Ogion as well.

The great thing was that I never new there were more books in the series, so it was several years before I read Tombs of Atuan, and then a few years again before finding Farthest Shore.

I think it’s time for a re-read of the whole series.


Definitely. And get my 10 year old daughter to start reading it too.


I got really freaked out by Lathe of Heaven when I read it.


I was totally ignorant of Le Guin (thanks, redneck upbringing) until this thread. I ordered the Earthsea Quartet for my daughter’s birthday and they should be arriving any day now. How do they hold up for a halfway-through-middle-age guy? Should I borrow them from her?


You should most certainly read them. At least the first 3. I thought the last was weaker–it was written much later. But The original trilogy are foundational if you are interested in fantasy as a field.


I reread them last year and thought they were great. What’s most impressive to me is 1) prose written to exacting standards, not typical of something supposedly directed at YAs, and 2) how minimalist they are in themselves and as a series. First one is young wizard, second is wizard in his prime, third is old wizard. Instead of being milked for every detail over umpty-ump books, the rest of his long career is merely implied or briefly referred to.

Tehanu, a much much later addition, is a thematic follow-up to the second book in the original trilogy and is very successful as such, in my opinion.


You should definitely read them.


We discussed “Left Hand of Darkness” on the stream tonight. I think this is one of the best humanist sci fi books ever. I plan on a re read (or re-listen since I am super audible lately)

Someone mentioned that after listening to this book – (a classic) – that he felt depressed. I cannot help but think he is right.

(I am just happy to find the actual thread and not make Telefrog grumpy with me)


Left Hand of Darkness is one of the great ones, to be sure.