Sci-fi and fantasy legend Ursula Le Guin dies at 88

by |January 24, 2018

To say that Ursula Le Guin was a popular sci-fi and fantasy author would be a gross understatement. Ursula Le Guin’s writing has been a hallmark of the genre for nearly fifty years. You can understand why, then, many are mourning the death of this incredible woman.

Photo credit: Ursula Le Guin’s Twitter account: @ursulaleguin

Reports say that she died at her home in Portland, Oregon, on Monday, at the age of 88.

Millions of Le Guin’s books have been sold worldwide, winning her a number of prestigious awards, including Hugo and Nebula awards for The Left Hand of Darkness (1969). Le Guin also wrote a number of short stories and poems.

As a woman writing genre fiction in the 1960s, Le Guin fought against pigeon-holing novels into genres.

“Genre fiction was looked at as a ghetto, but I wonder now if realist fiction, sealing itself off in the glum suburbs of a dysfunctional society, denying the use of imagination, was the ghetto.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

“A lot of people still maintain genre prejudice. I still meet matrons who tell me kindly that their children enjoyed my books but of course they never read them, and people who make sure I know they don’t read that space-ship stuff. No, no, they read Literature—realism. Like The Help, or Fifty Shades of Grey.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

Greatly influenced by her Anthropologist parents and her personal interest in Taoism, many of Le Guin’s novels have an intellectual depth that enriches her engaging stories.

Authors, fans and booksellers everywhere are expressing their sadness over Le Guin’s passing.

“I just learned that Ursula K. Le Guin has died. Her words are always with us. Some of them are written on my soul. I miss her as a glorious, funny, prickly person and I miss her as the deepest and smartest of the writers, too.” – Neil Gaiman

“Ursula Le Guin is such an enormous loss. Won’t be summarized in a few words, or even many. One aspect: she was, right to the end – to NOW – vital, engaged, necessary, contributing so much. This is an evening to mourn a giant.” – Guy Gavriel Kay

It comes as no surprise that there are a few massive Le Guin fans here at Booktopia and many were shocked by the news.

Earthsea was one of the first fantasy books I read,” Says David. “After The Lord of the Rings movies came out and, like every bookish kid interesting in finding out where the stories came from, I read the novels. I then went looking for more stories like them. My mum gave me A Wizard of Earthsea and I loved it. Ged was more like a person than anyone in The Lord of the Rings. As a children’s book it teaches the important lesson that making a mistake and asking for help is important for learning and something that everyone does – a great comfort for any kid. Even as an adult, it can be read as philosophy on evil and the balance of nature. Ursula Le Guin was a writer whose books were meant to be read over and over again.” 

“If you have not read the Earthsea books then you are missing out on one of the most engrossing fantasy series that you will come across.” Says Tracey. “Ursula Le Guinn was a master storyteller who will be dearly missed but whose legacy will live on in her books.”

“News of Ursula Le Guin’s passing came as a shock,” Says Bronwyn. “Earthsea holds a special place in my heart and always will. Ged was an incredible character, flawed and highly relatable, that will stay with me forever. The Left Hand of Darkness was one of the first novels that really challenged me in every way that is important when reading.”

Ursula Le Guin will be sorely missed but her remarkable books will continue impacting generations of new readers and thinkers to come.

Tales from Earthseaby Ursula K. Le Guin

Tales from Earthsea

Earthsea Cycle

by Ursula K. Le Guin

As a young Dragonlord, Ged, whose use-name is Sparrowhawk, is sent to the island of Roke to learn the true way of magic. A natural magician, Ged becomes an Archmage and helps the High Priestess Tenar escape from the labyrinth of darkness. But as the years pass, true magic and ancient ways are forced to submit to the powers of evil and death...

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About the Contributor

Before entering the exciting world of books, Bronwyn served in the Royal Australian Air Force, travelled extensively and worked (still does!) as a barista on the weekends. Books are her true passion. Bronwyn's debut fantasy novel Relic is coming out in 2019 with indie publishing house Talem Press. They are to publish her entire trilogy called The Relic Trilogy. In her spare time, Bronwyn writes, reads and enjoys keeping fit (which she undoes by eating loads of chocolate) with Martial Arts and personal training. She can't answer what her favourite book is but she has a soft spot for Peter Pan (J.M Barrie), Outlander (Diana Gabaldon), Stardust (Neil Gaiman), The Illuminae Files (Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman) and Six of Crows (Leigh Bardugo). Fantasy, sci-fi and YA make up the majority of her bookshelves.


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