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Ursula K. LeGuin

Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, and More Pay Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin, prolific fantasy author best known for writing The Earthsea Cycle and The Hainish Cycle, passed away yesterday in her home in Portland, Oregon, at age eighty-eight. Le Guin is widely regarded as the greatest fantasy writer of her generation, and one of the greatest fantasy writers of all time, akin, some would say, to Tolkien, Lewis or any of the other leading world-builders.  

 

Le Guin, rightfully, had an absolutely enormous fanbase, including some of the most famous authors alive, including Stephen King, Michael Chabon, and Neil Gaiman. 

 

King tweeted, calling Le Guin a ‘literary icon.’

 

 

Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Chabon posted this heartfelt message on his Instagram account, referencing his friendship with the author, who had inspired him from childhood. 

 

 

Meanwhile, fantasy giant Neil Gaiman seemed lost for words when he linked The New York Times article on LeGuin’s passing.

 

 

Later, Gaiman composed a heartfelt tribute to the author, linking a video of himself presenting LeGuin with a lifetime achievement award.

 

 

Holly Black, author of the The Spiderwick Chronicles, retweeted several tweets bemoaning the loss of LeGuin, including this one from The Demon’s Lexicon author Sarah Rees Brennan…

 

 

…and this one, from American astrobiologist and author David Grinspoon.

 

 

Margaret Atwood wrote this moving tribute to Le Guin for The Guardian, referring to her as “one of the literary greats,” and commenting that “her sane, committed, annoyed, humorous, wise and always intelligent voice is much needed now.” 

 

Ursula K. Le Guin touched the lives of millions and the depth and distance of her reach is undeniable. She will be deeply missed by everyone in the literary world. 

 

Featured Image Via Time Magazine

Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin, One of America’s Greatest Writers, Has Passed Away at 88

Ursula K. Le Guin, groundbreaking writer of the Earthsea Cycle and Hainish Cycle, passed away yesterday in her home in Portland, Oregon. She was 88-years-old.

 

Besides her Earthsea series, for which she is best known, Le Guin wrote dozens of other books that bent genre conventions. She composed poetry, wrote essay collections, and her short fiction is standard American canon today.

 

I first read Le Guin during my undergrad for a literary theory course. We had to analyze how Hegel’s master-slave dialectic manifests in Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.” I couldn’t hold on to Hegel’s thoughts once I started the story. The world Le Guin creates in those three pages is staggering, enveloping, and ultimately chilling. It reads like a $10 million Twilight Zone episode, with sweeping vistas and a heartbreaking ending. So when I found out she had an entire fantasy series (Earthsea), I jumped at it.

 

Roke, Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin, artwork, fan art

Roke from Earthsea. | Image Via Pinterest (P. D. White)

 

And I don’t think there’s a fantasy writer better than Le Guin. While some writers rest on action that takes thousands of pages to unfold, Le Guin instead builds a rich interiority. A lot of the action takes place in her characters’ minds. And while some fantasy writers rely on established mythology (giants, centaurs, etc.), Le Guin bucked convention. For her, magic was not about spells or a rich bloodline. To her, magic was words. If you know the right word, you can control the thing. Earthsea is, at its heart, an ode to literature and communication. Besides that, Tehanu is one of the greatest books ever written. It’s a slow-building, feminist mother-daughter story right in the center of Ged’s hero’s journey that boils into an unforgettable, inevitable ending.

 

She inspired everybody from Neil Gaiman to J. K. Rowling to Michael Chabon to Patrick Rothfuss to David Mitchell. Chances are that if you’ve read a fantasy book written in the last fifty years, it owes a great debt to Le Guin.

 

I haven’t yet read the Hainish Cycle, but I am going to pick up Rocannon’s World as soon as I can. And I cannot wait to read Earthsea again and again. I hope you’ll give Le Guin a try, if you’re not already in love.

 

Feature Image Via Variety

Earthsea cover

Top 10 Ursula K. Le Guin Quotes to Make You Believe in Dragons

Ursula K. Le Guin is our resident dragon expert. Her series, The Earthsea Cycle, features some of the most elegantly written fantasy ever. Le Guin’s world is fully realized and her spin on dragons and magic is, I’m 100% serious here, groundbreaking. For Le Guin, there are no spells in the familiar sense. Instead, everything has a true name only wizards have access to, and when the true name is uttered, the wizards can command the things to do…things. So if you have the name of the wind (looking at you, Patrick Rothfuss), you can make your ship sail faster. As Ged does. Often.

 

Anyway, Le Guin is genius. She writes a lot of magical, heartbreaking, and empowering things. Here are some of my favorites:

 

1. What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?

 

2. Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.

 

3. It is very hard for evil to take hold of the unconsenting soul.

 

4. Nobody who says, “I told you so” has ever been, or will ever be, a hero.

 

5. The creative adult is the child who has survived.

 

6. To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.

 

7. When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow.

 

8. The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.

 

9. People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons. From within.

 

10. My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.

 

Rathsea

Image Via scv.bu.edu

 

Feature Image Via Amazon

Rick and Morty

7 Stories That Must Get the “Rick and Morty” Treatment

“Rick and Morty” repurposes tropes from sci-fi stories, fantasies, and all manner of adventures. Creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon have an eye for what’s familiar to their audience, and the irreverence to dismantle those familiarities. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need help. Here’s a list of both famous and lesser-known stories that need to, in the words of Rick Sanchez, get schwifty.

 

7. “Kaleidoscope” by Ray Bradbury

 

Kaleidoscope artwork

via Short Story Log

 

Bradbury’s short story (appearing in the 1951 collection “The Illustrated Man”) follows a free-floating astronaut whose vessel’s been decimated. With no hope of rescue, the story chronicles the astronauts final existential despair. Fun, right?

 

Why it needs to get schwifty:

 

“Rick and Morty” knows all about existential despair. I mean, Jerry.

 

via GIPHY

 

6. “We Love Deena” by Alice Sola Kim

 

We Love Deena

via Strange Horizons

 

You can read this speculative fiction short here. The lead character here can inhabit any person, and she uses this ability to, you know, stalk her ex.

 

via GIPHY

 

Why it needs to get schwifty:

 

Roiland and Harmon seem to be hung up on body displacement (e.g., Pickle Rick, Tiny Rick, etc.), and Kim has managed to do something totally unique with the concept. In “We Love Deena,” body displacement isn’t the star of the show, just a tool the main character uses to get what she wants…or maybe doesn’t get what she wants. Read the story to find out!

 

via GIPHY

 

5. “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll

 

"Alice in Wonderland" illustration

via Medium

 

Carroll’s “Alice” books may be the archetype of trippy literature (hereafter trip-lit). Once down the rabbit hole, all that’s up is down, all that’s coffee is tea, and all that’s sense is nonsense.

 

Why it needs to get schwifty:

 

As irreverent as “Rick and Morty” is, the rules of each episode are never in question. Maybe Rick can spawn universes within universes for infinity, but the audience is never mystified by his ability to do so. There are rules. For Carroll, though, there really aren’t. Imagine “Rick and Morty” without rules.

 

Or maybe don’t. / via GIPHY

 

4. “Enemy Mine” by Barry B. Longyear

 

"Enemy Mine"

via Amazon

 

 

When two soldiers from feuding factions get stuck on a dangerous planet together, they have to overcome their differences for survival.

 

Why it needs to get schwifty:

 

Rick and Morty have made a bunch of enemies over the past couple of seasons. It’d be interesting to see one return, and have to live in seclusion with one of our leads. Perhaps a Krombopulous Michael from the multiverse will return to avenge the Gromflomite assassin.

 

via GIPHY

 

3. “The Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula K. Le Guin

 

"Left Hand of Darkness"

via Amazon

 

In Le Guin’s sci-fi classic, androgyny takes center stage. This book becomes a rumination on the effects that gender and sexuality have on societal institutions. When nobody has a fixed sex, what does society look like? Le Guin has some thoughts.

 

Why it needs to get schwifty:

 

It would be fascinating to see Roiland and Harmon explore this idea. It’s a big topic at the moment, and the always-playful philosophy of “Rick and Morty” would be interesting to say the least.

 

via GIPHY

 

2. “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” by Jules Verne

 

20000 leagues under the sea

via LRM

 

Captain Nemo’s aquatic voyage has captured imaginations for over a century. A variety of underwater locales are explored, all through the lens of the bizarre lifestyle led by those in the Nautilus.

 

Why it needs to get schwifty:

 

We’ve seen Rick everywhere from space, to foreign planets, to wacky spaceships, and even inside human bodies. But what about discovering the mysteries of the deep blue sea? Who knows what Roiland and Harmon will bring us from the abyss…

 

via GIPHY

 

1. “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins

 

"Hunger Games" cover

via Amazon

 

In a futuristic dystopian version of the U.S., tributes from across the dozen districts must battle to the death. Romances bloom, feuds are born, and the ravenous Capitol audience is satiated.

 

Why it needs to get schwifty:

 

Seeing Rick and Morty stripped of their gadgets, forced to make the most of very little would be supremely enticing. Plus, we might get to see what Rick would do with a bow and arrow. Could he beat Katniss Everdeen?

 

via GIPHY

 

Feature image courtesy of Den of Geek.

The featured image is of Scar from Lion King making a disgusted face at Simba from The Lion King.

Celebrate Disney Artists With These New Disney Villains Stamps!

In honor of the Walt Disney Studios Ink & Paint Department, the U.S. Postal Service has released a stamp collection of ten Disney villains.

 

The announcement came from the D23 Expo over the weekend, and was easy to overlook with some of the other massive announcements. There’s no better way to send a birthday card than a picture of Cruella de Vil.

 

A picture of the stamp collection, including Captain Hook, Cruella de Vil, Scar, Maleficent, Ursula, Gaston, Queen of Hearts, Honest John, The Queen from Snow White, and the evil stepmother from Cinderella.

Image courtesy of D23.com

 

The stamps are now available from the USPS’s online store here.

 

Featured image courtesy of YouTube.