There is a hole left in the world

Written By: - Date published: 12:27 pm, January 24th, 2018 - 17 comments
Categories: accountability, activism, capitalism, feminism - Tags: ,

Obituary from the New York Times:

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.

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.

Le Guin’s speech on receiving a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Awards:

Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.

I’ve had a long career as a writer, and a good one, in good company. Here at the end of it, I don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want and should demand our fair share of the proceeds; but the name of our beautiful reward isn’t profit. Its name is freedom.



17 comments on “There is a hole left in the world”

  1. Ad 1

    She was grand.

    It’s common to think of The Word For World Is Forest as a Vietnam analogy, but it works for New Zealand’s history, as well as a host of postcolonial wars pretty well too.

    Plus, it is surely the source for Avatar, which is going to get a set of sequels made in New Zealand.

  2. joe90 2


    Can I email you?

    Please don’t.

  3. spikeyboy 3

    Along with Dorris Lessing one of my favourite authors at one time of my life. Always sad when such gifted people leave us

  4. lprent 4

    When I did my big purge of mainly science fiction and fantasy books back in 2012 after shifting fully to epub. She was one of two authors that we retained. Both my partner and I wanted to reread them.

    That is astonishing considering that I have been rereading her books since 1975.

    The other was Pratchett.

  5. Robert Guyton 5

    A Wizard of Earthsea is my favourite. I’ve read it many times.

    • Antoine 5.1

      By coincidence I’ve just started reading it to my kid, a few days ago. I really like Tombs of Atuan as well but will leave that until they’re a bit older.


    • weka 5.2

      My favourite too. Although I am very partial to Always Coming Home.

  6. adam 6

    As an author she holds the record for me of books loaned out, and never returned.

    “The dispossessed” being the main book. But others too.

    That said.

    It is a case of, please borrow this book I’ve been reading. We should all read it.

  7. pingao 7

    She is one of my favourite writers and made a big impact when I fist came across ‘The Dispossessed’ and ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’. Like Adam though, I have lent out my books and find to my surprise that have zero Ursula Le Guin on my shelves.

  8. red-blooded 8

    For a beautiful, poetic, politically sharp, uncomfortable short story, try reading “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”.

    • Antoine 8.1

      Ferchristsake put a trigger warning on it dude!

      “Warning, contains explicit description of child abuse”


      • red-blooded 8.1.1

        Hey, I said it was sharp and uncomfortable. It’s also (clearly) a metaphor. I teach this story, and teenagers really get the parallels: first world lifestyle reliant on 3rd world suffering, deprivation, child labour… Each time I’ve taught it, students have come up with new insights and ideas.

  9. Stunned Mullet 9

    Great author, great life, RIP.

  10. Ross 10

    I haven’t read any of her work but this quote of hers seems apt:

    One person cannot do two fulltime jobs, but two persons can do three fulltime jobs — if they honestly share the work.

    The idea that you need an ivory tower to write in, that if you have babies you can’t have books, that artists are somehow exempt from the dirty work of life — rubbish.

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