Poetry News

Rest in Utopia, Ursula K. Le Guin

By Harriet Staff
Ursula K. Le Guin

We're saddened to learn of the passing of the masterful science fiction writer and poet Ursula K. Le Guin. The lone daughter of two acclaimed anthropologists, Le Guin's poetry and prose is revered for its explorations of gender and genre. Gerald Jonas of the New York Times reports, "Ursula K. Le Guin, the immensely popular author who brought literary depth and a tough-minded feminist sensibility to science fiction and fantasy with books like 'The Left Hand of Darkness' and the Earthsea series, died on Monday at her home in Portland, Ore. She was 88." From there: 

Her son, Theo Downes-Le Guin, confirmed the death. He did not specify a cause but said she had been in poor health for several months.

Ms. Le Guin embraced the standard themes of her chosen genres: sorcery and dragons, spaceships and planetary conflict. But even when her protagonists are male, they avoid the macho posturing of so many science fiction and fantasy heroes. The conflicts they face are typically rooted in a clash of cultures and resolved more by conciliation and self-sacrifice than by swordplay or space battles.

Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Several, including “The Left Hand of Darkness” — set on a planet where the customary gender distinctions do not apply — have been in print for almost 50 years. The critic Harold Bloom lauded Ms. Le Guin as “a superbly imaginative creator and major stylist” who “has raised fantasy into high literature for our time.”

In addition to more than 20 novels, she was the author of a dozen books of poetry, more than 100 short stories (collected in multiple volumes), seven collections of essays, 13 books for children and five volumes of translation, including the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu and selected poems by the Chilean Nobel Prize winner Gabriela Mistral. She also wrote a guide for writers.

Read more at the New York Times.

Originally Published: January 24th, 2018