Fantasy Novelist Ursula Le Guin, Who Explored Resistance and Change, Dies at Age 88

Celebrated fantasy novelist Ursula Le Guin has died at the age of 88. The feminist writer was the author of more than 20 novels, more than a dozen collections of poetry and another dozen children’s books. Among her most famous works was her 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness, which is set on a planet where people are “ambisexual” — neither male nor female — and contains one of the most famous sentences ever written in a fantasy novel: “The King was pregnant.” Ursula Le Guin’s 1974 novel The Dispossessed is also one of the most celebrated explorations of utopia, dystopia, capitalism, anarchism and oppression. We play an excerpt of Le Guin accepting the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2014.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: And celebrated fantasy novelist Ursula Le Guin has also died at the age of 88. The feminist writer was the author of more than 20 novels, more than a dozen collections of poetry and another dozen children’s books. Among her most famous works was her 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness. It’s set on a planet where people are “ambisexual” — neither male nor female — and contains one of the most famous sentences ever written in a fantasy novel: “The King was pregnant.” Ursula Le Guin’s 1974 novel The Dispossessed is also one of the most celebrated explorations of utopia, dystopia, capitalism, anarchism and oppression.

This is Ursula Le Guin accepting the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2014.

URSULA LE GUIN: I think hard times are coming, when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom: poets, visionaries — the realists of a larger reality. …

We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.

AMY GOODMAN: Ursula Le Guin died on Monday at her home in Portland, Oregon, at the age of 88.