When we were asking great SF authors to name the books that everybody pretends to have read, one title came up that we wound up not including on our list. Vonda McIntyre, author of Dreamsnake, The Moon and the Sun, and several other classics, mentioned a book by Ursula K. Le Guin. The only trouble? It's not a book that people pretend to have read — because it's such an overlooked classic. Here's what McIntyre told us:
Always Coming Home, by Ursula K. Le Guin, illustrations by Margaret Chodos and music by Todd Barton, is a tour de force that was overlooked by the SF/F community in the year it came out. It's an anthropological description of a future community, the Kesh, a compendium of information about them, a science fictional speculation about the future, poems, recipes, songs, a glossary, music, an autobiographical novel.
As UKL describes it:
"The people in this book might be going to have lived a long, long time from now in Northern California."
I keep waiting for my colleagues to say, "Wait, what? We failed to award it every, any, prize from our community. Why did we do that?"
But, then, every time October arrives and leaves, I also think, "Another Nobel Prize in Literature that went to someone who isn't Ursula K. Le Guin. Why did they do that?"
You can read some excerpts from Always Coming Home, plus listen to audio files, here.