"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]
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.
Some Chinese cats seem to have sprouted wings. (No, it is not April 1.) [more inside]
"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
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
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...