“We’re each of us alone, to be sure. What can you do but hold your hand out in the dark?”
Today, we remember the life and work of Ursula K. Le Guin, who passed away yesterday at the age of 88.
As The New York Times reports, she was born Ursula Kroeber in Berkeley, California on Oct. 21, 1929, the youngest of four children and the only daughter of two anthropologists, Alfred L. Kroeber and Theodora Quinn Kroeber. She grew up fascinated by mythology from around the world, and science fiction. She turned away from science fiction, however, when she realized how many of the stories were about men as soldiers, adventurers, and plunderers.
She graduated first from Radcliffe College in 1951, and then from Columbia University, where she earned a master’s degree in romance literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. She traveled to Paris in a Fulbright fellowship, and there she met the man who would become her husband, another Fulbright scholar, Charles Le Guin, who survives her. The two settled in Portland, Oregon, and Ursula remained at home to raise their children. She wrote five unpublished novels before turning to genre fiction. Science fiction, the genre she adored as a child. But now, Le Guin began to reinvent the genre, using her works to question western conceptions of gender, race, and power.
A devoted feminist, Ursula K. Le Guin, along with writers like Octavia Butler, burst open the science fiction genre, showing its true power to help us reimagine and reshape our own world. She will be missed. But, lucky for us, her words, her humor, and her insight lives on—on our shelves, and in our hearts.