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Mary is a Sydneysider, a mother, a feminist activist for women in tech, and an erstwhile computer scientist. She is presently on leave from her non-profit the Ada Initiative. Mary also writes for Geek Feminism, and, when there's no other suitable venue, for her own blog Lecta.

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22 responses to “Friday Hoyden: Ursula K. Le Guin”

  1. Chally

    I love her writing so, so much. Great choice for a Friday Hoyden. Happy birthday, UKL!

  2. Beppie

    Ursula Le Guin’s writing has shaped my life more than any other author I’ve encountered. I think it’s safe to say that I would not be doing my PhD in children’s literature today if it weren’t for the Earthsea novels.

  3. Jo Tamar

    Yes. I can’t remember when I first read the Earthsea Quartet, but I was pretty young, and she has been one of my favourite authors ever since. Perhaps my favourite.

    I would also recommend The Telling, where she contemplates social attitudes to queerness. For non SF, Lavinia is also a really nice go of telling a story of a semi-/quasi-historical woman whose story is usually told only insofar as it touches on the stories of the men around her (and one, Aeneas, in particular).

    Thanks for the post, Mary :)

    (Also, 81 is a more interesting number than 80, so I think it’s an excellent idea to celebrate 81 rather than 80. Celebrating whole decades only is boring ;) )

  4. Dylan agh is not dylwah anymore

    yea happy 9 squared, i’d also recommend “those who walk away from Omelah” (not sure i got that right) also from “the wind’s twelve quarters”. also still relevant.

    also (gee i like that word today) special mention for her stance against the Vietnam war and how early it started, some of her memoirs from the early sixties just leave me speechless.

    oh and “the word for world is forest” has a great example of the sf invention of something that already existed.

  5. Alice

    I adore Le Guin. I particularly like, in The Matter of Seggri, how technology and science are considered “women’s work”. Puts me in mind of the “Gender Binary Fractal” we’ve talked about a bit over on GeekFeminism.

  6. MK

    I love Ursula Le Guin! The Dispossessed is one of my favourite novels ever, but her short stories are amazing. I am a fan of Solitude, an examination of a society predicated upon extreme and near-universal introversion.

    Also she translated Kalpa Imperial, by Angelica Gorodischer, which is likewise a wonderful book.

  7. Alice

    Oh, WordPress stripped out my italics on the title. Sadface.

  8. Alice

    But italics are appropriate for titles! I don’t need it emphasised; if someone were reading this using a screen reader it would sound funny.

  9. Alice

    By which I mean, I should be able to style it as italics without having it semantically marked as emphasised. Sorry for bikeshedding, though, I’ll take my geekery back to work where it belongs.

  10. maharetr

    Thanks for the post, and happy 81st to Le Guin!

    I wish to wave a flag for her Left-Handed Commencement address, which is on her website here: http://www.ursulakleguin.com/LeftHandMillsCollege.html but might be overlooked. It contains my most favourite paragraph ever:

    “Maybe we’ve had enough words of power and talk about the battle of life. Maybe we need some words of weakness. Instead of saying now that I hope you will all go forth from this ivory tower of college into the Real World and forge a triumphant career or at least help your husband to and keep our country strong and be a success in everything – instead of talking about power, what if I talked like a woman right here in public? It won’t sound right. It’s going to sound terrible. What if I said what I hope for you is first, if — only if — you want kids, I hope you have them. Not hordes of them. A couple, enough. I hope they’re beautiful. I hope you and they have enough to eat, and a place to be warm and clean in, and friends, and work you like doing. Well, is that what you went to college for? Is that all? What about success?”

  11. peta

    maharetr, I love that ^^ paragraph!

    I have been a huge fan of Ursula since I read The Dispossessed in 1978. Didn’t find Earthsea till several years later. Her writing has only gotten better over the years.

    Happy 81st Birthday!

  12. peta

    oh my goodness, I just read the whole address from the above link, it’s worth waving a whole heap of flags for!!

  13. tigtog

    Quick reply to Alice re italics styling: somebody buried that bit of tomfoolery deep in the core typography layout section of the CSS, not the simple-to-change style.css, and I haven’t had time yet since returning from holiday to dig down to exactly where that’s lurking. It’s on the to-do list.

  14. Alice

    Tigtog: Oh, no stress, I was just being a crankypants. I apologise for taking up space on the Ursula Le Guin thread of epic win for stupid HTML whinging.

  15. Jennifairy

    Thank you for not only noticing but celebrating Ursula Le Guin’s birthday. She has been a reading companion, a philosophical role model and a creatrix of worlds-I-would-happily-live-in for most of my life.

    My favourite (and its a tough choice) is Always Coming Home – my copy of this and the one-volume Earthsea Trilogy that I bought about 30 years ago are the only books among the hundreds I own that have fallen apart inside their covers. I now have to take a curators type care when handling them, but I just havent brought myself to replace them yet – they are like frail but well-beloved old friends.

    I think one of the aspects of her writing that I have enjoyed is being witness to the evolution of her awakening to feminism and humanism – in the first books of Earthsea, men have the power, womens magic is definitely regarded as of lesser value, its all about Archmages and Kings and women are not even allowed through the door to Roke. The female lead Tenar is really only a backdrop for Ged’s journey to greatness.

    In her later Earthsea stories, both the short stories and the novels, she has made some conscious efforts to redress that imbalance, to rewrite the history of the world, to offer some explanations for the past (in particular I loved that she made women the focal point and the ‘movers and shakers’ for the creation of Roke), and ended by making room for women and ‘womens power’ to have an equal but different place at the table.

    Love yer work Ursula, would have loved to have been in the position for the occasional chat-over-coffee type thing, but alas your books will have to do – and happily they do still manage to.

  16. Chally

    I am loving how everyone has a different Le Guin fave so far.

    Mine at present is Four Ways to Forgiveness, but I didn’t say in my first comment as my favourite changes as the years go on! Le Guin has been with me so much of my life and shaped so much of my life that my favourite changes as different parts of my experience come to the fore.

  17. Chally

    My copy’s in storage at present, but if one of us remembers when I get it out, I would be happy to lend you mine.

  18. Tea Drinker

    Love her. I think my favourite is The Left Hand of Darkness.

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