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Pioneering Fantasy Author Ursula K. Le Guin Has Passed Away

Ursula K. Le Guin at the 2014 National Book Awards. Image: Robin Marchant/Getty Images
Ursula K. Le Guin at the 2014 National Book Awards. Image: Robin Marchant/Getty Images

Ursula K. Le Guin, the groundbreaking, highly-acclaimed, and prolific author of science fiction and fantasy works—including The Left Hand of Darkness and the Earthsea series—passed away yesterday at the age of 88 in Portland, Oregon.


The New York Times reports that Le Guin’s son confirmed her death, which came after an extended illness. During her long career, the author won multiple Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy awards, and became one of few women to be named a “Grand Master” by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. In 2001, she was named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress.

Beloved by both fans and critics alike, Le Guin brought a feminist point of view to the genre, as well as an open-minded willingness to explore new themes. In her website’s FAQ, she wrote:

Taoist thought runs quite deep in the structure of many of my fictions. And many of them put the viewpoint characters into a different society and culture, where they have to figure out what’s going on, how things work. (Since all of us as children are in this situation, it is a reliably interesting and relevant one.)


Le Guin made headlines last year for speaking out against “alternative facts” in a strongly-worded letter to an Oregon newspaper—a small news item when taken along with the scope of her magnificent literary career, but a reminder of how much a voice like hers will be missed. (It’s also an important reminder of why you should start reading her works if you haven’t already.) Our thoughts go out to her friends and family at this time.

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As the ugly head of toxic reactionaryism reasserts itself the world over, we’ve never needed her perspective more.

She made our universe so much larger.