On Wed Nov 19, 2014, in an awards ceremony emceed by Daniel Handler-aka-Lemony Snicket, Ursula K. Le Guin gave "the most ferocious speech ever given at the National Book Awards." Le Guin's acceptance speech for the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters touched on the Amazon vs Hachette throwdown and the practice of art in an age of capitalism. Video. Transcription.
Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. The profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable; so did the divine right of kings.
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
"In Japan, animation is not seen as the exclusive realm of children's and family films, but is often used for adult, science fiction and action stories, where it allows a kind of freedom impossible in real life. Some Hollywood films strain so desperately against the constraints of the possible that you wish they'd just caved in and gone with animation." -- Roger Ebert on anime, with this excerpt being related to Tokyo Godfathers. Ebert has been a fan of anime for a while, especially the works of Hayao Miyazaki. Ebert has reviewed 6 of the 18 Studio Ghibli films released to date, and even interviewed Miyazaki with a bit of fanboy glee. More reviews and videos inside. [more inside]
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.
Free Speculative Fiction Online is a database of free science fiction and fantasy stories online by published authors (no fan-fiction or stories by unpublished writers). Among the authors that FSFO links to are Paul Di Filippo (14 stories), James Tiptree, Jr. (4 stories), Connie Willis (3 stories), Eleanor Arnason (3 stories), Bruce Sterling (5 stories), Robert Heinlein (7 stories), Ursula K. LeGuin (3 stories), Jonathan Lethem (5 stories), Michael Moorcock (6 stories), Chine Miéville (2 stories), Samuel R. Delany (3 stories), Robert Sheckley (8 stories), MeFite Charles Stross (33 stories) and hundreds of other authors. If you don't know where to start, there's a list of recommended stories.