Ursula LeGuin

Dear Ursula,

When I was younger, my father suggested two book series to me: the Chronicles of Narnia and the Earthsea Trilogy. I read C.S. Lewis’s books and enjoyed them, but they didn’t speak to me the same way yours did.

It was my first experience with truly great world-building. The islands of Earthsea were filled with characters and creatures that felt rich and real. My first magical school wasn’t Hogwarts, but Roke with its Masters and students. I was fascinated by the way that words held power in your world, that to completely know a thing, you must know its true name. I quickly devoured The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore, entranced by Ged’s journey. There was something poignant in the way that his nemesis wasn’t some external evil, but one of his own creation.

Time went by, and I rediscovered your work in high school in The Left Hand of Darkness, which encouraged me to see the world in a different light through gender. Always Coming Home did the same though anthropology, The Dispossessed through socialism. Your work is the epitome of what science fiction should be: shifting stories to other times and spaces to reveal truths about our own.

In college, I had the privilege of taking a class from one of your colleagues in which we read several science fiction novels written by women. While it certainly opened my eyes to many authors, some of whom are now among my favorites, the core message of the class I already knew thanks to you: that science fiction and fantasy writing, like any field, is made better through diversity.

I sincerely thank you for your work and your talent, and I look forward to the time when I can pass on your stories to my children the way they were passed to me.

-Christopher

Curiosity Changed the Character: Intro to Banned Books Month

newtpic

Dorothy McQuaid
Showrunner for Pycera/Social Media for BWP
Twitter | Blog | Email

Recently, a book club associated with BWP read The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin. While I had overall mixed feelings about the book (the summary: it was a bit too academic and philosophical, and not enough plot for my taste), one thing did strike me and remind me of one of my favorite books of all time. Shevek, our protagonist and genius physicist, happens upon a tidbit of knowledge (in this case, learning the language spoken on a different planet) that flips his life upside-down. This situation reminded me heavily of Montag in Fahrenheit 451, who has a random urge to take a book home with him, and discovers a universe of knowledge and an intellectual revolution. In this post, I’ll talk about how reading and learning new things can change your life forever.

(This post contains spoilers for the above books.)

Continue reading