by wjw on January 26, 2018

le-guinWhen I heard of Ursula LeGuin’s death, I realized that she was someone who, as far as I was concerned, had always been there.   I’d been reading her since Rocannon’s World, the Hainish space opera that seemed equally to resonate with the works of Tolkien and Leigh Brackett.  (“Wherever he went, his super science made him a legendary figure!”)  She was a constant in my literary universe.  (And I’m still very fond of those early Hainish books.)

I occasionally found myself in the same room with her, but she was always surrounded by a swarm of admirers, and I never felt right about barging through her adherents just to introduce myself.  She clearly meant so much to them, I didn’t want to interrupt whatever communion was in progress.

I never got to talk to her until we found ourselves at the same table during an underreported autographing, where even Ursula K. LeGuin failed to draw a crowd.  We were the only two people in the room, and we had a lovely conversation, though at this distance I don’t recall what it was about.  She was sweet and attentive and very, very perceptive.  I don’t think much escaped her notice, and I doubt anyone ever got around her.

It occurs to me that she will still be a constant in my literary universe, because those books aren’t going anywhere.

Time to go to the shelf.

Privateiron January 26, 2018 at 9:09 am

One constant in many of the remembrances I have read, as well as in my own, is how permanent is her presence in our lives. A lot of the literary greats like Wolfe and Lem don’t have a large active following. But she was both great and popular. So we all look in awe at someone who probably will still be read a 100 years from now.

Still a melancholy milestone….

Steinar Bang January 26, 2018 at 11:54 am

My favourite Hainish cycle book: City of Illusions

My favourite part of the book was the journey.

pecooper January 30, 2018 at 10:56 am

In 1969, when I was a senior in high school, I first read The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. I also discovered Rite of Passage by Alexei Panshin and Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny. For different reasons, all of them took their places on my Top 10 list. While others have come and gone all three of them have stayed there. 1969 was a very good year for SF books.

While I love them all, The Left Hand of Darkness is the one whose images still haunt me. Le Guin was one of a kind.

RIP lady.

PhilRM January 30, 2018 at 5:57 pm

I received the 2-volume ‘Hainish Novels and Stories’ as a recent birthday present, which I took as an excuse for a Le Guin re-read (and in fact, of her three early novels I’d only read ‘Planet of Exile’). The thing that really struck me was how astonishingly well they’ve held up. There are certainly a few mostly technology-related bits that are pretty dated (which is also true of ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ and ‘The Dispossessed’ – and also pretty much every other SF novel written in the same time period). But they are so insightful and so thoughtful, and so gorgeously written; they’re still remarkable books.

Shash February 5, 2018 at 6:33 pm

I was introduced to LeGuin in Freshman English and I feel as though I never left her alter. Even re-reading her never gets old. Her take on society, large and small, remains with me as I follow politics, large and small. Though she was classified as an SF writer, she wrote about us.

She deserved more attention than she got, but I’m glad she didn’t get it, because we would probably not have such a large body of work to delve back into when we need some perspective.

Goodbye to my first (and always foremost – sorry, Walter) literary hero.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post:

Contact Us | Terms of User | Trademarks | Privacy Statement

Copyright © 2010 WJW. All Rights Reserved.