Famed science fiction au­thor Ur­sula K. LeGuin dies at 88

The Standard Journal - - OBITUARIES - By Gil­lian Flac­cus and Hil­lel Italie

PORT­LAND, Ore. — Ur­sula K. Le Guin, the award-win­ning science fiction and fan­tasy writer who ex­plored fem­i­nist themes and was best known for her Earth­sea books, has died at 88.

Le Guin died sud­denly and peace­fully at her home in Port­land, Ore­gon, after sev­eral weeks of health con­cerns, her son, Theo Downes-Le Guin said.

“She left an ex­tra­or­di­nary legacy as an artist and as an ad­vo­cate of peace and crit­i­cal think­ing and fair­ness, and she was a great mother and wife as well,” he said.

“God­speed into the galaxy,” Stephen King tweeted, say­ing Le Guin was a lit­er­ary icon, not just a science fiction writer.

Le Guin won an honorary Na­tional Book Award in 2014 and warned in her ac­cep­tance speech against let­ting profit de­fine what is con­sid­ered good lit­er­a­ture.

De­spite be­ing a fi­nal­ist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 — a rare achieve­ment for a science fiction-fan­tasy writer — she of­ten crit­i­cized the “com­mer­cial ma­chin­ery of best­seller­dom and prize­dom.”

“I re­ally don’t want to watch Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture get sold down the river,” Le Guin said in the speech. “We who live by writ­ing and pub­lish­ing want — and should de­mand — our fair share of the pro­ceeds. But the name of our beau­ti­ful re­ward is not profit. Its name is free­dom.”

Le Guin’s first novel was “Ro­can­non’s World” in 1966 but she gained fame three years later with “The Left Hand of Dark­ness,” which won the Hugo and Ne­bula awards — top science fiction prizes — and con­jures a rad­i­cal change in gen­der roles well be­fore the rise of the trans­gen­der com­mu­nity.

Her best-known works, the Earth­sea books, have sold in the mil­lions world­wide and have been trans­lated into 16 lan­guages. She also pro­duced vol­umes of short sto­ries, po­etry, es­says and lit­er­a­ture for young adults.

File, Ben­jamin Brink / The Ore­go­nian via AP

Ur­sula K. LeGuin is most fa­mous for the novel “The Left Hand of Dark­ness” and her “Earth­sea” se­ries of books.

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