OBITUARY: Ursula le Guin, award-winning sci-fi writer who defied pigeon-holing

Ursula K. Le Guin whose science fiction and fantasy novels and stories helped elevate the genre has died at her Portland home. She was 88

Ursula K. Le Guin, Fantasy and Science-Fiction Pioneer, Dead at 88

Acclaimed science-fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin died Monday in her hometown of Portland, Ore., her agent confirmed.

Her work has been translated into more than 40 languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide.

Ursula Le Guin's a Grandmaster of Science Fiction - the genre's top honour and one rarely awarded to women.

"You're supposed to start out writing autobiographical novels and stuff, but for me that's the really hard and scary stuff - is getting anything personal in", Le Guin told Wachtel. She met her future husband, the historian Charles Le Guin, while travelling to France to continue her studies in 1953, and they married later that year. Many of her warriors did no battle - they grappled with philosophical dilemmas and the social order as much as malicious shadows and dragons.

Le Guin is the author of dozens of books, including 20 novels, six collections of poetry and over 100 short stories.

She often criticised the "commercial machinery of bestsellerdom and prizedom" despite being a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 - a rare achievement for a science fiction-fantasy writer. She had a long-lasting influence on a younger generation of writers.

Le Guin was born in Berkeley, Calif., on October 21, 1929. When those books didn't sell, she made a decision to try her hand at straight-ahead science fiction, and "Rocannon's World" was released in 1966. Although I first discovered her work as a teenager, I've returned to The Dispossessed and A Wizard of Earthsea again and again, with undiminished pleasure.

Ms. Le Guin had a form of feminism that she preferred to describe as humanism.

In 2004, the Sci Fi Channel released a Legend of Earthsea miniseries which Le Guin was highly critical of, objecting to its use of white actors for her red, brown, or black-skinned characters.

She is perhaps best known for her Earthsea series, beginning with "A Wizard of Earthsea" in 1968. Even when draped in classic sword-and-sorcery trappings, Le Guin's works dealt more with the clash of cultures, resolved through wit and sacrifice rather than swashbuckling action.

After graduating from Berkeley High School, Le Guin studied for a BA in French and Italian Literature at Radcliffe College in Massachusetts and an MA in the same subject at Columbia University in NY, graduating in 1952.

Le Guin said, in part, "Books, you know, they're not just commodities". It's a trippy roller coaster ride worthy of big budget science fiction.

Past year I wrote an introduction to Ursula K. Le Guin's collection of blog posts, "No Time to Spare". "Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art - the art of words". She was the recipient of a National Book Award, a Hugo, and a Nebula Award. "I think I need to stop working, go for a walk with the dog, and give thanks for all her deep thought, wisdom and insight, distilled into so many massively influential books and stories".

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