Opening the Door to Possibilities

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A belated requiem for Ursula K. Le Guin, renowned author of a lifetime of singularly thoughtful, feminist, leftist, environmentalist and often wondrous science fiction, who died last week at 88 in her beloved Portland, Oregon home. Over decades, Le Guin explored a multitude of themes - anarchism, racism, androgyny, profiteering capitalism, ancient mythology, the Taoist concept of balance, the clashing of cultures, the enduring challenge of being human - in novels and stories that were classified as "fantasy" but defied genre as well as gender; deeply political, they often focused on dualities, inequities, the importance of unheard voices and a search for the common good.

Along with 20 novels - including The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed - and ten collections of short stories, she wrote children's books, poetry, essays, book reviews, fiery letters to the editor. Her final book, No Time to Spare, came out in December. Her vision could be searing: In “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” she creates a perfect little world whose perfection depends on the suffering of one tormented child. Always, she called on artists to help shape a better world. Accepting the Distinguished Contribution Medal at the 2014 National Book Awards, she blasted writers who let "commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant and tell us (what) to write.” Instead, she urged, “We’ll need writers who can remember freedom - poets, visionaries, realists of a larger reality.” Now, more than ever. She will be missed.

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