Ursula K. Le Guin
October 2, 2003 9:29 PM   Subscribe

 
No....NO!....I beg of you, on the sacred runes, on the Dragon's Teeth.....No EarthSea lunchboxes and other marketing paraphernalia! ".....this was merely a passing shadow of dark foreboding. For the moment, Ged's future seemed bright and clear as the sunlight refracted through the waves which bore LookFar miraculously aloft. That night, however, his dreams were troubled by dark merchandising schemes..... "
posted by troutfishing at 10:10 PM on October 2, 2003


Interesting. She's also involved with Poets Against the War

Even to the dreadful now of news
we listened comforted
by far timezones, languages we didn't speak,
the wide, forgetful oceans.

Today, no comfort but the jewel courage.
The war is ours, now, here, it is our republic
facing its own betraying terror.
And how we tell the story is forever after.

::complete poem::
posted by anastasiav at 10:20 PM on October 2, 2003


Her politics are basically anarcha-feminist. 'The Dispossessed' is perhaps her most interesting work, from a political point of view.
posted by plep at 11:35 PM on October 2, 2003


I think that her Earthsea series was good in that it was a great bildungsroman-esque development of one badass character, mixed with an original take on some of the fantasy cliches. That said, I also own her The Left Hand of Darkness, as well as Four Ways to Forgiveness (4 of these semi-connected short stories) and was not impressed, really.

Earthsea rocks though.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:07 AM on October 3, 2003


Four words: "The Lathe of Heaven". The original PBS TV-movie introduced me to her works; I dove into the book to help figure out the fuzzier parts of the movie and just fell in love. (I remember that was also the summer I gave up on Heinlein, sorry lazaruslong.)
One of my biggest life regrets is not reading more LeGuin, and now, y2karl, you give me all this good on-line material? Aaargh!! (Maybe if I dream real hard, I can change that...)
posted by wendell at 12:39 AM on October 3, 2003


You can't beat "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" for a very short story (beware pop-ups). I read it years ago, and it still has resonance today. When i re-read it a month ago, I couldn't help but think of Omelas as the current U.S.A., with the child in the cellar as the people incarcerated in Guantanemo Bay.

A great story does that; stays with you and morphs and adapts itself to different times and events.
posted by Pericles at 3:03 AM on October 3, 2003


Thanks for the link Pericles.

I'm surprised that there isn't more discussion of Daoism on the le Guin sites. This is the backbone of the earthsea series, and the main reason for me that I can still re-read these books that I fell in love with as a child and get something new out of them. I don't think I can say the same thing about any other book.

My only criticism of le Guin's later work is that it becomes increasingly difficult to emphasise with her characters. They become ideas rather than people.
posted by arha at 4:03 AM on October 3, 2003


empathise doh
posted by arha at 4:06 AM on October 3, 2003


Those familiar with English translations of the Tao Te Ching will find LeGuin's thoughtful rendering will I think be pleasantly surprised by LeGuin's accessible style. Even better - to my taste - is the audiobook version read by the translator herself.

(arha: I'm pleased to discover another reader of the Earthsea cycle that recognizes LeGuin's affinity for Lao Tzu and its effect on at least her earlier work...)
posted by JollyWanker at 5:37 AM on October 3, 2003


I love Le Guin's scifi (not into fantasy, read first Earthsea and don't care to read on). Her stuff is original and well written and I love falling into her worlds.

She's what I call "social" scifi (stories are always about culture and society), so anyone not into "hard" scifi may want to give it a try.
posted by evening at 5:37 AM on October 3, 2003


LeG also writes mainstream stuff. She wrote the cleverest take on the New Yorker-format coming-to-understand story I've read, "Two Stops on the Northern Line."
posted by jfuller at 5:50 AM on October 3, 2003


Speaking of Earthsea, does anyone know definitively how to pronounce the name "Ged"? One could say that it's pronounced with a hard G, because otherwise it would be spelled "Jed" (which would have very different associations!). But the general rule in English is that a G is soft if it is followed by a soft E (e.g. general).
posted by alms at 7:17 AM on October 3, 2003


You can't beat "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" for a very short story (beware pop-ups)

Except that nobody actually shows why the kid needs to be in the basement. Which is to say, it's so far into the land of didactic fables that any point it makes is reduced to inanity.

And there should be a sequel -- "The Ones Who Come Back To Omelas At The Head Of A Tank Column."

and Terry Bisson's "Meat" is a better very short story.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:33 AM on October 3, 2003 [1 favorite]


I'd be fascinated to read the sequal, should you write it, ROU_Xenophobe. The kid needs to be in the basement like people need to be kept on the cuban island, to ensure the 'security' and 'freedom' of the society that keeps them there. The similarities are that U.S. security, human rights and freedoms seem, at the moment, to be predicated on denying freedom and human rights of others (no habeas corpus, secret military tribunuals etc in Guantanemo Bay), shoot to kill in Iraq etc.
posted by Pericles at 9:25 AM on October 3, 2003


But the general rule in English is that a G is soft if it is followed by a soft E (e.g. general).

Get a gecko, you geek, before you turn into a geezer!

(I have no idea, by the way, what you mean by a "soft E.")
posted by languagehat at 10:49 AM on October 3, 2003


Ah, languagehat, I knew you'd come through. I always pronounced Ged w/a hard G, myself. Love the Earthsea series and most of her work.

OK, quite off-topic, but has anyone here read Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy? In my mind there are similarities between LeGuin and Piercy, though Piercy is not Sci-Fi or Fantasy.
posted by widdershins at 10:58 AM on October 3, 2003


The Lathe of Heaven rocks.

Heinlein reigns supreme over all.

Unicorns kick ass.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:32 PM on October 3, 2003


Ursula 0wnz j00.

Thanks for the post. LeGuin gets more praise from me than I can fit here, and I was really unlucky to miss her Tehanu reading event in Berkeley this summer.
posted by azazello at 12:12 AM on October 4, 2003


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