We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. 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, and very often in our art, the art of words. — Ursula K. Le Guin
I hate writing two obituary blogs back to back, and some people might think that I’m shorting some of the other people who’ve died today – a couple of musicians, and a writer of horror novels – but Ursula LeGuin was important to me.
She wrote The Dispossessed, which is a rare thing among science fiction novels. It was a political science fiction novel. Not the only one ever, I suppose. It’s in the same category as 1984 and Brave New World, and pretty much nothing else. Heinlein’s libertarian leanings were clear in his work, but he was still just writing science fiction. Asimov stayed as far away from politics as he could. Sure, there were good guys and bad guys, but the emphasis was on the science and there wasn’t a great deal of nuance.
LeGuin took the twin planets of Urras and Annares, and used them to compare our own society with an anarchist utopia. But, she was honest about it and the anarchist utopia had some problems, too. A lot of thought went into the writing, you could tell, and a lot of thoughts came out of it. It sure made me think, and I’m sure millions of other readers, too.
Then, there was The Lathe of Heaven, which was a great study in alternative universes. Wish for a world in which there’s no racism, and you get a world in which there are no races, and no rock and roll.
She was an extremely prolific writer, and I’ve just scratched the surface. I think I’m going to have to read a couple more of her books, now that she’s gone. I owe her that much.