Ursula Le Guin was one of the finest writers of our time. Her books have attracted millions of devoted readers and won many awards, including the National Book Award, the Hugo and Nebula Awards and a Newbury Honor. Among her novels The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed and the six books of Earthsea have already attained undisputed classic status; and her latest series, the Annals of the Western Shore is joining them. She live in Portland, Oregon and died in January 18.
Here is a tribute by her publisher, Malcolm Edwards:
You may well already have seen the news – extensively reported in the media – of the death, at 88, of Ursula Le Guin. She had been in poor health for a while.
Ursula joined the Gollancz list in 1971, and stayed with us ever since, making her by some distance our longest serving author (rivalled only by Lady Antonia Fraser on the W&N list). We have two new books scheduled for this year: Dreams Must Explain Themselves, a selection of her best non-fiction, forthcoming on 22nd February (finished copies have arrived, ironically, just this morning); and The Books Of Earthsea, a large omnibus of her famous Earthsea novels, illustrated by award-winning artist Charles Vess.
Along the way, she collected almost every honour possible, most recently the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, awarded by the National Book Foundation. You can see her acceptance speech – typically generous and feisty - here. It is well worth a few minutes of your time.
She was an SFWA Grand Master, and was awarded a World Fantasy Award for life achievement. She won many awards for specific works, including the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for the third Earthsea novel, The Farthest Shore, and both the major sf awards – the Hugo and the Nebula – for her two best known sf novels, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, both available in our SF Masterworks library.
Those of us who had the pleasure of working with her will remember her as a gracious and good-humoured woman with an iron will, gently expressed. She was by common consent one of the greatest – if not the greatest – contemporary sf and fantasy author. This is a very sad day.
Anyone who feels that David Gemmell’s Aeneid series ended too soon would probably enjoy this. It picks up the story as Aeneid reaches Italy, after the Trojan Wars and years of roaming, to meet the woman he is prophesied to marry. Narrated, very charmingly, by her ghost, and with a special guest appearance by a famous poet (I won’t give away who!), this has all the wit, style, sensitivity and craftsmanship readers have come to expect from Ursula Le Guin. You do not need to know her work, or any Greek mythology, to appreciate the story of a surprisingly modern girl in an ancient world. I absolutely loved it. Comparison: Sheri Tepper, David Gemmell (Trojan War trilogy), Glyn Iliffe (King of Ithaca). Ursula Le Guin has written about some of her literary heroes for Lovereading. To read her article, click here.
Winner of both the Nebula and Hugo Awards, The Dispossessed is a profound and compelling story of idealism and Realpolitik, and is the most important utopian vision in modern science fiction.
A satirical spoof on air travel from this fantastic writer. Just think Gulliverâ€™s travels meets Hitchhikerâ€™s Guide to the Galaxy
A BBC Radio full-cast dramatisation, based on the first three books in Ursula Le Guin's bestselling 'Earthsea' cycle. Set on a vast archipelago of islands, where magic is a central part of life, 'Earthsea' tells the intertwined stories of Ged and Tenar. Ged is a boy from the island of Gont, born with innate magical talent and a reckless nature, who tampers with long-held secrets and releases a terrible shadow into the world. He must risk everything in order to restore the balance... Meanwhile, Tenar, a girl from the island of Atuan, is taken from her home and family to become Arha, the Priestess Ever Reborn, guardian of the ominous Tombs of Atuan. Deep within the Tombs, Ged and Tenar encounter one another and seek a way of bringing peace to the troubled archipelago. Ursula Le Guin's 'Earthsea' series have sold millions of copies and been translated into sixteen languages, and this epic dramatisation of 'A Wizard of Earthsea', 'The Tombs of Atuan' and 'The Farthest Shore' will take you deep into a rich fantasy world of sorcery, wizards and dragons. Among the cast are Shaun Dooley (Broadchurch) and Toby Jones (Dad's Army. Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes approx.
The first ever broadcast dramatisation of Ursula Le Guin's seminal science fiction novel. On an alien world in the middle of an Ice Age, one man prepares for the biggest mission of his life. Alone and unarmed, Genly Ai has been sent from Earth to persuade the people of Gethen to join the Ekumen, a union of planets. But it's a task fraught with danger. Genly is shocking to the natives, for Gethen is a world in which humans are ambigendered - everyone can be a mother, and everyone can be a father. First Minister Estraven is the only person who champions Genly's cause, but their relationship is deeply incomprehensible and troubling. As the duo embark on a journey that will take them to the edge of their physical and emotional endurance, the stakes are high - to save a world from war, and save their own lives. Ursula Le Guin's award-winning masterpiece was one of the first feminist SF novels, and this compelling dramatisation is both a subtle exploration of gender and a thrilling tale of love, betrayal and survival in a landscape of endless snow and ice. It stars Lesley Sharp (Scott & Bailey), Toby Jones (Dad's Army) and Louise Brealey (Sherlock).. Duration: 2 hours approx.