Ursula Le Guin, a brilliant author of science fiction and what I might call exploratory, inspirationally prescriptive fantasy for every age died on January 22nd. As an author, she was committed to finding new ways in which we humans might make a better, healthier society. I know that I read some of her early books, borrowed from the library, aloud to my four children in the early eighties: probably some of the Catwings series, suitable for ages “4 to 8,” and this title, The Tombs of Atuan, from her Wizard of Earthsea series chimes a distant bell in my vague memory of those times.
A couple of CBC podcasts paid tribute to her in January, and I was excited (in listening to an address she gave at the National Book Awards in 2014 featured on The Sunday Edition on January 28th) to learn Le Guin’s deep commitment to righting the wrongs of present day society.
Here are excerpts from her talk:
Hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and who can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being…
Developing written material to suit (publishers’) sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profits and advertising revenue is not quite the same thing as responsible book publishing and authorship…
We live in capitalism; its power seems inescapable. So did the Divine Right of Kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings… and very often in our art: the art of words.
(At the end of my career) I don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river.
… the name for our beautiful reward is not profit; its name is Freedom!
In 1993 Le Guin was interviewed by the superb Eleanor Wachtel on the CBC program, Writers and Company. Wachtel is perhaps the best literary interviewer on the planet.