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Beloved Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writer Ursula LeGuin Has Died

Beloved Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writer Ursula LeGuin Has Died

Le Guin, a longtime Portland resident and literary icon who influenced writers worldwide, died Monday at her Portland home. I hope she understood that the five-plus decades of material that she gifted to the world was the true magic we all needed.

"The Left Hand of Darkness", the most famous of her more than 20 novels, won both the Nebula and Hugo awards and told the story of a planet with genderless beings.

Pacific Northwest writers and institutions figured prominently in the outpouring of condolences on social media.

Eleanor Wachtel speaks with the "high priestess of fantasy and science fiction" American writer Ursula K. LeGuin. "Godspeed into the galaxy".

Author Neil Gaiman was among those who mourned Le Guin on Twitter.

And where power can dehumanize, she argued, we need imagination to fix the resulting wound: "If you cannot or will not imagine the results of your actions, there's no way you can act morally or responsibly", she explained.

It is with a heavy heart and a saddened soul that I write this tonight. "I miss her as a glorious amusing prickly person, & I miss her as the deepest and smartest of the writers, too".

Born Ursula Kroeber in Berkeley, Calif., on October 21, 1929, Le Guin became known for writing stories about sorcery and interplanetary conflict that infused feminist sensibilities and subverted ideas about gender. Speaking with an anthropological dispassion, Le Guin later referred to her novel as a "thought experiment" created to explore the nature of human societies.

That interest in the science of human behavior would fuel Le Guin's own writing career.

She married historian Charles Le Guin in 1953, and they had three children.

She also wrote poems and short stories. "I eliminated gender to find out what was left", Le Guin later wrote.

By the 1990s, the writer was still imaging radical inventions, but also weaving into her stories more nuanced explorations of sexuality and gender.

Some of her works, including Tales From Earthsea and The Lathe of Heaven, have been adapted into films and television programs.

"You move along with your time", the author told HuffPost in 2015, noting that some of the concepts she put to paper in, say, the 1990s, wouldn't have occurred to her when she started writing.

"We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable - but then, so did the divine right of kings", she said during a speech at the 2014 National Book Awards. In her acceptance speech, she spoke prophetically of the hard years ahead for the country - and in praise of the quality that runs so freely through her books: imagination.

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