It could have been the greatest television show ever. Conceived by Harlan Ellison. Ben Bova acting as technical advisor. Special effects genius Douglas Trumbull was on board. Scripts and storylines had been contracted from Phillip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Joanna Russ, Thomas M. Disch, Alexei Panshin and A.E. van Vogt. Keir Dullea starred. (Dave from 2001: A Space Odyssey). Guest stars: John "Baltar" Colicos (Battlestar Galactica), Walter Koenig (Star Trek) and Barry Morse (Space:1999). And then it all fell apart. In all, 16 deliciously terrible episodes of The Starlost were made. Was it the worst science fiction series ever? Watch and decide for yourself! [more inside]
About 40 years ago, Edward D. Wood, Jr. published a number of short stories in "girly" mags (cover images likely NSFW), but those stories haven't been republished, until now. Blood Splatters Quickly collects 32 stories from Ed Wood, and you can read The Day The Mummy Returned on Boing Boing. If you like tales told by the monsters, io9 collected more of such stories, videos, and video games, and there's a related AskMe post, looking for stories where humans are the monsters, many of which can be read online, as linked below the break. [more inside]
There are previouslys enough to fill an FPP but this deserves mention and honour in its own right.
In recognition of her transformative impact on American literature, Ursula K. Le Guin is the 2014 recipient of the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. She is the Foundation’s twenty-seventh award recipient.Long live the Ekumen.
"We can go to science fiction for its sense of wonder, its power to take us to far-off places and future times. We can go to political fiction to understand injustice in our own time, to see what should change. We may go to poetry — epic or lyric, old or new — for what cannot change, for a sense of human limits, as well as for the music in its words. And if we want all those things at once — a sense of escape, a sense of injustice, a sense of mortality and an ear for language — we can read the stories of James Tiptree, Jr.," the reclusive, award-winning author whose vague biography started out in the Congo, routed through a period as a painter, then service as a photo intelligence officer in WWII, and finally a researcher and teacher of "soft" sciences before getting to writing science fiction. There was another facet that was only guessed at by some, dismissed by others: the fact that "Uncle Tip," and his reclusive friend, the former school teacher Racoona Sheldon, were the same person. And they were Alice Bradley Sheldon. [more inside]
It seems that the utopian imagination is trapped, like capitalism and industrialism and the human population, in a one-way future consisting only of growth. All I’m trying to do is figure out how to put a pig on the tracks. — Ursula K. Le Guin, "A Non-Euclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be"
Would You Please Fucking Stop?: an article by Ursula K. Le Guin
Back to the Hugos is a series by Sam Jordison of the Guardian Books blog where he reads and reviews old Hugo Award winners. He was once skeptical of the literary quality of science fiction but then started to examine the validity of the critical orthodoxy and is now a firm convert, as this review of The Man in the High Casle demonstrates, and now even goes to science fiction events. Among the other books he's covered so far are A Case of Conscience by James Blish, Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner and the latest review is of The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin. It's not all sunshine and roses though, The Big Time and The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber don't appeal to him and the dreadfulness of They'd Rather Be Right by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley makes Jordison doubt the value of democracy, at least when it comes to selecting litearary award winners.
"Something woke her in the night." Genre fiction is rising from the dead to terrorize serious literature! In response to Michael Chabon’s (previously) new book, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Ruth Franklin wrote a review in Slate beginning with the line “Michael Chabon has spent considerable energy trying to drag the decaying corpse of genre fiction out of the shallow grave where writers of serious literature abandoned it.” Well, that didn’t go over too well with Ursula K. Le Guin, who bent her considerable imagination and skill to the task of envisioning the zombie corpse of genre fiction and wrote an entertaining response, which was then given a suitable cover. The whole thing is also available as a pdf linked to from Le Guin’s website. via
What's an Indian, Anyway? Just one of the essays exploring real vs. fake in Native American culture posted At Wanderer's Well. Lots of opinionated reviews of the work of Louise Erdrich, N. Scott Momaday, Tony Hillerman, Ursula K. Le Guin and many others. The surprisingly rich personal site from a former academic (who now calls his departure from scholarly publishing "felicitous") offers hours of reading with detailed side-trips and fascinating links.
The Guardian has a nice interview with Ursula K. Le Guin about utopian science fiction, anthropology, ethnicity in Earthsea and the differences between her two Earthsea trilogies. She also comments on the upcoming miniseries.
The Lathe of Heaven is a taoist novel, not a utopian or dystopian one.... There is an old American saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The novel extends that a bit - "Even if it's broke, if you don't know how to fix it, don't."
The King and Tehanu go to meet dragons. A map of Earthsea. A very large map of Earthsea. The Hainish Encyclopedia. The Ekumen. The Disconnected. Le Guin's World. Ursula K Le Guin's Official Website.
Ursula K. LeGuin's "The Lathe of Heaven" is being offered to local PBS stations in the month of June. It hasn't been broadcast in about 20 years. VHS tape and DVD due out in September. Both KQED (San Francisco) and KRCB (Rohnert Park-Cotati, CA) aren't going to broadcast it. I guess Suze Orman needs the airtime...