Ursula K. Le Guin, acclaimed science fiction writer, dead at 88

Prolific science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin has died, CBC Books confirmed through Canadian distributor, Raincoast. She was 88. 

Le Guin was considered an icon of science fiction and fantasy writing. She published more than 20 novels, a dozen poetry collections, seven essay collections and 13 children’s books. Her first novel, Rocannon’s World, was released in 1966. Two of her best known works followed shortly after: she published A Wizard of Earthsea in 1968 and The Left Hand of Darkness in 1969. Her Earthsea trilogy has since been compared to J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis and sold millions of copies worldwide. 

Le Guin was born in Berkeley, Calif., on Oct. 21, 1929. When she was 11, she had her first offering rejected by  the pioneering science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories.

Her themes ranged from children’s literature to explorations of Taoism, feminism, anarchy, psychology and sociology to tales of a society where reading and writing are punishable by death and of a scientist who battles aliens to save the world.

Le Guin’s many accolades included multiple Hugo and Nebula awards for science fiction, the Newbery Medal for children’s literature, the PEN/Malamud Award for short fiction and the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In 2000, the U.S. Library of Congress named her a Living Legend for her contribution to American literature.

She married Charles Le Guin in Paris in 1953. They moved to Portland and had three children.

Her last book was the essay collection No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, which came out in 2017.

In 1993, Le Guin spoke to Eleanor Wachtel for an episode of Writers & Company

“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. 

You can listen to their entire conversation below.

Eleanor Wachtel speaks with the “high priestess of fantasy and science fiction” American writer Ursula K. LeGuin.50:22

—  with files from the Associated Press

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