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Posts Tagged ‘Ursula K. Le Guin’

We egoize about Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1974 classic, The Dispossessed.

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Marie’s blog

Episode 10 – The Left Hand of Podcasts

Source of our theme song

Incidental Music: Danse Macabre – Big Hit 1 Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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I dropped by the used bookstore yesterday and found two editions of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Beginning Place side by side. An old one:

And a recent reprint:

The back cover blurbs seem to describe completely different books. Indeed, these don’t look like the same book at all. I stood there in bemusement at how greatly marketing and design trends in publishing have shifted over the years.

This probably reveals a lot about my own marketing non-savvy, but while the second cover is more technically accomplished…I prefer the unassuming quietude of the older cover.

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One year after the initially-planned recording date, we finally get around to talking about the works of Ursula K. Le Guin–specifically, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Word for World is Forest.

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Marie’s Blog

Source of our theme song

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The Telling (2000) continues Ursula K. Le Guin’s Hainish cycle with a pattern familiar to readers of her earlier books: a messenger from the Galaxy-wide confederacy known as the Ekumen comes to a newly-contacted planet on an anthropological expedition. The Left Hand of Darkness has the same premise and takes place in the same imagined future, what changes are the characters and the planet’s society. Le Guin manages to exploit this technique without ever coming across as formulaic. Her writing strengths lie in strong, well-realized characters, and building interesting and believable cultures. The Telling is excellent.

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It’s natural as writers get on in years to revisit themes and ideas from their earlier works, and perhaps explore them with greater depth or from a different point of view. The Annals of the Western Shore, published between 2005 and 2007, does not cover new ground for Ursula K. Le Guin, but it doesn’t really need to. Often, the sf community seems ignorant of Le Guin’s more recent novels despite her steady improvement as a writer and storyteller (Changing Planes is one of my favourites, though it’s not so much a novel as an imaginative ethnographic treatise). Her early contributions in the field were so overwhelmingly influential they tend to overshadow all else. On a sentence level, Le Guin’s writing is surer now than it was in The Left Hand of Darkness, and her deftness with language immediately engaged me with this newer trilogy.

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In a recent episode of Folding Ideas, the paper-built host discusses the problems faced by film adaptations using the Sci-Fi channel’s adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series as an example of an adaptation gone horribly awry.  I’ve decided to steal my title from that episode. There’s no argument that Sci-Fi’s Earthsea is an abomination unto man, but thinking on that particular travesty makes me wonder whether book adaptations are really worth it all. That question came to a head when I (finally) watched The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey last night and spent most of the running time completely baffled by the choices Peter Jackson & co. made. This touches on a conversation I’ve repeatedly had with a good friend of mine every time we wander onto the topic of the latest book-to-film, most often HBO’s Game of Thrones series.

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After The Truth about Stories, I re-read The City of Words to once again focus my mind away from such questions as “why does milk taste funny after eating a slice of pineapple?” This marks the third time I’m writing about The City of Words on this blog. There’s just so much there to discuss.

In this case, I want to share some of Alberto Manguel’s thoughts on stories, the state, and the publishing industry, and discuss how they relate to fantastika. Manguel works from the following premise:

Language lends voice to the storytellers who try to tell us who we are; language builds out of words our reality and those who inhabit it, within and without the walls; language offers stories that lie and stories that tell the truth. Language changes with us, grows stronger or weaker with us, survives or dies with us. The economic machineries we have built requires language to appeal to its consumers, but only on a dogmatic, practical level, deliberately avoiding literature’s constant probing and interrogation. The endless sequence of readings of Gilgamesh or Don Quixote opens realms of meaning on countless subjects…all of which may at some point entail a questioning of power and call for the resolution of injustice. To sustain the run of the machineries, those in office will often attempt to curb and control this multiplicity of reading in many ways[…] This censorship…takes place in many ways, from the most dramatic to the most covert. […] In every case, its aim is to prevent the telling of true stories. (125)

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