Forever Leguin
January 18, 2021 9:00 AM   Subscribe

For the 33rd stamp in the Literary Arts series, the USPS has chosen to honor science fiction author, activist, and mefi-favorite Ursula K. Leguin.
posted by FirstMateKate (46 comments total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
 
I know this is a bit light of a post, but reading the news was heartwarming to me, and I know there's a small community of people here who love her just like I do. The USPS needs the support, and Leguin's values, insight, and legacy are exactly the things we should be looking towards for guidance in the world right now.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:02 AM on January 18, 2021 [16 favorites]


I was happy to read this!
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 9:09 AM on January 18, 2021


And it's a very good-looking stamp, too!
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 9:14 AM on January 18, 2021 [1 favorite]




When I think of the USPS I don't immediately think of Capitalism, Ryvar.
posted by Pendragon at 9:31 AM on January 18, 2021 [4 favorites]


[raises hands]...I just really like the quote, chief. I come in peace.
posted by Ryvar at 9:34 AM on January 18, 2021 [6 favorites]


Oh, to be fair, it's a good quote.
posted by Pendragon at 9:36 AM on January 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


From the LeGuin estate twitter:
"We are delighted to announce that the 33rd stamp in the US Postal Service Literary Arts series honors Ursula. Stamp release will be later this year, date TBD. From then on, all our letters will be three ounces! Thank you @USPS
for this distinction. http://ow.ly/knY750D9SXb"
Very cool, and I will happily mail lots of 3 oz letters. At least until I get my ansible back from the shop.
posted by indexy at 9:44 AM on January 18, 2021 [9 favorites]


This is a great post, and all the comments are wonderful.
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 9:46 AM on January 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


My only gripe with this is that I cannot for the life of me figure out how and where to get some of them.
posted by ChrisR at 9:49 AM on January 18, 2021


You can order stamps online at USPS.COM.
posted by leaper at 9:55 AM on January 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


I just checked, and they aren't offering the Le Guin stamp. I don't know whether it's just a matter of waiting until it comes out.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 9:56 AM on January 18, 2021


And my favourite novel too!
posted by hat_eater at 9:57 AM on January 18, 2021


We're planning to buy a pile of these as soon as they're available.

I also love that they chose the Left Hand of Darkness for the background, which I mentally summarize as 'gender fluidity's totally normal and just seems weird because you grew up on the wrong planet.'
posted by kaibutsu at 9:59 AM on January 18, 2021 [11 favorites]


I've just embarked on a re-read of Le Guin's work, inspired by the Tor Publishing sequence, except I'm following the publication order instead. I've using the Library of America editions where they're available, and for the Earthsea books this lovely edition illustrated by Charles Vess. I'm right in the middle of the first Earthsea novel right now! I haven't read "The Dispossessed" or "The Left Hand of Darkness" previously, so I have that to look forward to. I've also taken up stamp collecting, so when I saw the news about this yesterday, I was really excited.

It's great that our society has found so many ways to recognize Le Guin's brilliance. I only wish it would work harder to live up to her values.
posted by Ipsifendus at 9:59 AM on January 18, 2021 [7 favorites]


FirstMateKate: "I know this is a bit light of a post, but reading the news was heartwarming to me, and I know there's a small community of people here who love her just like I do. "

Le Guin is a big part of my life, my worldview. Thanks, this light post is better than a pile of 'heavy' politics, etc., posts.
posted by signal at 10:01 AM on January 18, 2021 [4 favorites]


Ipsifendus, I’m doing the same, and loved the first three Hainish novels! So much fun and beautiful prose at the same time.
posted by rustcellar at 10:03 AM on January 18, 2021 [3 favorites]


I (re)read (most of) the hainish cycle a few years back, would happily read some more books. Maybe do a club on fanfare?
posted by signal at 10:04 AM on January 18, 2021


For those looking to buy these, the stamps haven't been released yet. And a release date hasn't yet been announced. The only announcement is that these will come out sometime in 2021.
posted by hydra77 at 10:04 AM on January 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


I have the great joy of reading the Earthsea books now, at age 49, having never read them before. They're so spare and simple! The best part is LeGuin's author notes at the end, written 20 years later or something, responding to the criticism the books have accumulated over a generation. Thoughtful stuff.

Shame these are three ounce stamps. That's a lot of weed.
posted by Nelson at 10:15 AM on January 18, 2021 [3 favorites]


I have the great joy of reading the Earthsea books now, at age 49, having never read them before. They're so spare and simple!

These were the first books I read of hers, as a tween. My father had taken my older sister and I to the used book store. She had picked out Dolphins of Pern series, and my dad said I was a bit too young to read them, so I read the Earthsea trilogy. Definitely formative for me as a young reader and justice-oriented person.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:41 AM on January 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


This is so cool! I would love to get a bunch of these.

Anyone interested in rereading Le Guin should check out the Earthsea club over at FanFare, where we're going through the series. We're only on the second book (The Tombs of Atuan), so don't feel like you've missed out on anything.
posted by Cash4Lead at 11:14 AM on January 18, 2021 [3 favorites]


It made me so happy to see this news!!!

People who don't really have enough concentration to read novels right now: I recommend Changing Planes, her short story collection exploring different worlds, peoples, and societies -- stories like "Seasons of the Ansarac" about bird-people who migrate a few times during their lives, from and to the cities.
posted by brainwane at 11:51 AM on January 18, 2021 [3 favorites]


One of the great joys of Le Guin is that as she grew older she only grew wiser and more thoughtful, a sharp contrast to many of her SF&F contemporaries who... did not, let's just say.
posted by tavella at 12:39 PM on January 18, 2021 [6 favorites]


I talk about the gods, I am an atheist. But I am an artist too, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth.
posted by y2karl at 12:51 PM on January 18, 2021 [4 favorites]


You know who won't enjoy this? The ones who walk away from USPS.
posted by benzenedream at 1:16 PM on January 18, 2021 [8 favorites]


I don't know whether it's just a matter of waiting until it comes out.

This. There's often a lag between the announcement of a new stamp and its appearance at the website. Once you order something, you'll get the quarterly catalog, which has many stamps you might miss at your local PO.

Shame these are three ounce stamps.

Ooop - should've guessed it wouldn't be a Forever stamp.

More Ursula K Leguin:
The Lathe of Heaven mini-series, from 1980 (Part 1/12).
posted by Rash at 1:22 PM on January 18, 2021 [2 favorites]


...He is also the subject of most lead stories in most newspapers, which is expectable for a new president, and of endless editorials. I gather that he fills the political news on TV even more thoroughly and is exhaustively, continually discussed, attacked, defended, parodied, etc. on the social media, not to mention his own nightly fits of twittering. I don’t know this firsthand because I rarely watch or listen to any media news any more, don’t follow or read social media at all (though occasionally have posted something from my website), and don’t have a smart phone. If this makes you feel that I am disqualified to comment on modern life and politics, I can’t argue.

As a science fiction writer, I will, however, say that sometimes the view of Earth from another planet can give insights otherwise unattainable...
After reading 123. The Golem from the 2017 archive of her short lived blog, I wonder what she would have thought about this last year and a month.
posted by y2karl at 1:30 PM on January 18, 2021


Also, re-reading my 17 year old all broken link but hardly the earliest post listed via the mefi-favorite link, I was surprised and pleased to see how many who in one name or another commented are still with us. Now that is continuity. Mefi-favorite indeed.
posted by y2karl at 2:09 PM on January 18, 2021 [3 favorites]


Copied her middle and last names
/ˈkroʊbər lə ˈɡwɪn/
from the wikipedia article about her and pasted them into ipa reader then discovered that I used to pronounce her name correctly when I was younger.
posted by otherchaz at 2:17 PM on January 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


Ooop - should've guessed it wouldn't be a Forever stamp.

These actually are forever stamps, according to the USPS link. Like all forever stamps, their value never depreciates (much like the woman herself), so for eternity or until the fall of the USPS, you can send a 3oz letter with this stamp, regardless of the comparable monetary cost.
posted by FirstMateKate at 2:55 PM on January 18, 2021 [2 favorites]


In that 2003 post (under another username) I told how the PBS/TV version of The Lathe of Heaven introduced me to LeGuin, but I omitted a side detail; that later that year I dated a woman who decorated her apartment with stuffed penguins that she told me she called "Ursula K. LePenguins" and to this date, I make that association (even though I haven't spoken to her in decades).
posted by someothercraig at 4:13 PM on January 18, 2021 [3 favorites]


And I will gladly support the USPS by using LeGuin stamps on less-than-3-ounce letters.
posted by someothercraig at 4:16 PM on January 18, 2021 [1 favorite]


Many card companies such as Papyrus make greeting cards with geegaws and other stuff on them, hence they require additional postage. Send someone a fancy birthday card with this stamp once it's available!
posted by kitten kaboodle at 5:17 PM on January 18, 2021


Great recognition of a great author. I also have really enjoyed her casual evisceration of some 'modern' 'fantasy' schlock, eg She has many virtues, but originality isn’t one of them. (Of Harry Potter and the author that hacked her way to stardom)
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:23 PM on January 18, 2021


No surprise there since Harry Potter & c. was a total rip of A Wizard of Earthsea.
posted by y2karl at 5:31 PM on January 18, 2021


No surprise there since Harry Potter & c. was a total rip of A Wizard of Earthsea.
RIGHT? I've never read any Harry Potter and probably won't now, but I'm in the midst of reading A Wizard of Earthsea for the first time and I'm all like hey this coming-of-age wizard school tale seems familiar...
posted by missmobtown at 8:04 PM on January 18, 2021


Since it's a thing I'll just note that a Forever 3 oz stamp is currently 0.85, while a 1 oz first class regular stamp is 0.55. So if your letter is oversize then the LeGuin stamp is kind of a bargain, and if not it's only thirty cents more to send happy UrsulaKLG energy with your missive.
posted by indexy at 9:12 PM on January 18, 2021


> Shame these are three ounce stamps.

Agreed. Until I heard that, I was ready to buy a 10-year supply of them.

Dare I say 'Queen of Science Fiction'? Yeah, I'll go there.
posted by Twang at 10:35 PM on January 18, 2021


This is wonderful, thanks for sharing it. I haven't sent a postcard in ages, but as soon as these are available I want to use one to send to my mom. She'd absolutely love receiving something with an Ursula Le Guin stamp on it. And I'd love sending it!
posted by biogeo at 11:33 PM on January 18, 2021


You can't make an Omelas without breaking eggs. Thank you Ryvar for flagging her 2014 acceptance speech; which adversely deconstructs the industry which brought her to our attention . . . and the podium. That led me to a youreading of Omelas which left me bleakly hopeful. In my fanboy back-catalogue is a Driving Miss Ursula essay by Alison Smith. Young Alison more or less got this advice "Well, the secret to writing is writing. Writing is how you be a writer. It’s only a secret to people who really don’t want to hear it.". 3oz hats off!
posted by BobTheScientist at 1:08 AM on January 19, 2021 [2 favorites]


There are 16 ozzes in a lib, so can't I just put 6 ursulas on the 1 lb pkg, to cover postage?

Looking for a reason to buy a lot.
As if I was going to send any.
posted by otherchaz at 8:32 AM on January 19, 2021


I don't think I've ever bought 3-ounce stamps before, but I'm very excited to get these when they're available. Thanks for this post--what an excellent thing to know about and celebrate!
posted by mixedmetaphors at 4:52 PM on January 19, 2021


Tangent: Ursula's parents were author Theodora Kroeber and anthropologist Alfred Louis Kroeber. The Kroebers were sort-of guardians of Ishi, the last wild Native American. Ishi was a wonderful and fascinating person. Ursula's mother wrote Ishi in Two Worlds, one of my favorite books. (Ursula was born after Ishi died.)
posted by neuron at 9:20 PM on January 19, 2021 [2 favorites]


We all seem to like the USPS around here, and I suggest that purchasing stamps that you never intend to use is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to support your USPS. They get the money now, and you get to mail your purchase whenever you want to forever, including never. Also, they are art. I like to collect art.
Buy a couple of panes a year, just to keep the trucks rolling.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 12:45 PM on January 20, 2021


Oh, by the way, what just came my way via Google's algorithms was

Ursula Le Guin, the language of Earthsea, and Tolkien,

which surmised that the Old or True Speech of Earthsea -- which is the language of magic the wizards of Earthsea used to cast their spells -- is one long multi-dimensional easter egg trope on the surname of J. R. R. Tolkien.
posted by y2karl at 2:15 AM on January 24, 2021 [1 favorite]


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