Prolific fantasy and science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin died on January 22 at her home in Portland, Oregon, as reported by The New York Times. Best known for her Earthsea series, the novelist was lauded for creating complex alien worlds whose plots revolved around profoundly human issues. Le Guin’s son, Theo Downes-Le Guin, confirmed the death of the author and said she’d been in poor health for several months.
Le Guin was the author of over 20 novels, as well as more than 100 short stories, a dozen books of poetry, seven collections of essays, several children’s books, five volumes of translation, and a guide for writers. Her books have been translated into over 40 languages and have sold millions of copies internationally. Several of them, including The Left Hand of Darkness, have been in print for nearly 50 years.
She was a literary inspiration for an entire generation of science fiction and fantasy authors, and many of those writers took to social media to express their condolences.
“I just learned that Ursula K. Le Guin has died,” tweeted Neil Gaiman, who presented her with a lifetime achievement award at the National Book Awards in 2014. “Her words are always with us. Some of them are written on my soul.”
Le Guin was a fierce defender of science fiction and fantasy. At the 2014 National Book Awards, she had this to say about the future of literature:
“Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom — poets, visionaries, realists of a larger reality.”
Her vast body of work is certain to be a legacy that will inspire generations of writers to come.
What is your favorite Ursula K. Le Guin book? Let us know in the comments.