When the news broke yesterday that Ursula Le Guin passed away, people around the world responded with a genuine outpouring of grief and disbelief. I can't recall the last time I found myself consoling a weeping person when they heard news of an author's death. That happened yesterday, with Le Guin. Her writing — curious, brave, thoughtful — beguiled generations of readers. She shaped an army of feminists. She inspired young women to demand their place at the table. Her work will guide fiction for centuries.
We'll have more on Le Guin in days to come. For right now, we're just reading all the many beautiful ways people are paying tribute to her life and work.
I recommend that you read John Scalzi on Le Guin at the LA Times:
She was a supporting column of the genre, on equal footing and bearing equal weight to Verne or Wells or Heinlein or Bradbury. Losing her is like losing one of the great sequoias. As the unceasing flow of testimonials gives witness, nearly every lover and creator of science fiction and fantasy can give you a story of how Le Guin, through her words or presence, has illuminated their lives.
I also recommend that you read Julie Phillips's New Yorker appreciation of Le Guin from 2016:
The history of America is one of conflicting fantasies: clashes over what stories are told and who gets to tell them. If the Bundy brothers were in love with one side of the American dream—stories of wars fought and won, land taken and tamed—Le Guin has spent a career exploring another, distinctly less triumphalist side. She sees herself as a Western writer, though her work has had a wide range of settings, from the Oregon coast to an anarchist utopia and a California that exists in the future but resembles the past. Keeping an ambivalent distance from the centers of literary power, she makes room in her work for other voices. She has always defended the fantastic, by which she means not formulaic fantasy or “McMagic” but the imagination as a subversive force. “Imagination, working at full strength, can shake us out of our fatal, adoring self-absorption,” she has written, “and make us look up and see—with terror or with relief—that the world does not in fact belong to us at all.”
And then there are all the ways that people are celebrating Le Guin's life in her own words:
Never forget how much Ursula K. Le Guin hated capitalism pic.twitter.com/rUoI7V17sz— Laura Hudson (@laura_hudson) January 24, 2018
And I very much enjoyed these ideas to celebrate her life:
some ideas for ways to honour Ursula K. LeGuin:— neville porg (@neville_park) January 23, 2018
- punch a fascist
- pet a cat
- invent a gender
- join a collective
- have an orgy
- run for city council
- live in the woods
- protest in the streets