In Memoriam: Ursula Le Guin
*Written January 25th, 2018
When news broke a couple of days ago my first reactions were shock and disbelief. Surely I had misread the title of that article. But as I lingered on it, reality set in and I was hit with an overwhelming wave of sadness and sorrow. I don’t shed tears very often; when I do they’re reserved for friends and family. It’s not because I don’t empathize or sympathize, it’s just how I’m wired.
But this…this was different. Despite never having met Ursula Le Guin, I felt like I had lost a mentor, because that was the effect her work had on me. I’ve been writing fiction for fourteen years, but I’ve only been reading science fiction and fantasy for about four. I have friends of different race, color, and sexual orientation, having grown up in a diverse school system.
But it was reading the EARTHSEA & THE LANGUAGE OF THE NIGHT, and her belief in ‘they’ as a singular pronoun, that really hammered home the importance of diversity in fiction for me. It showed me what my own work had been lacking; it made me aware of my own ignorance. It helped me grow tremendously as a writer.
Ursula Le Guin taught millions of readers lessons through stories. She told truths in fiction. One of my favorite quotes is “To light a candle is to cast a shadow.” There are many ways to interpret this, and in the case of Ursula Le Guin, she was a light that cast her wisened shadow over numerous readers and writers. It is a shadow that remains and will for all time.
Thank you for your wisdom, your lessons, and your stories. May you rest with dragons on the farthest shore.