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Le Guin

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(I had intended to be out and about by now, but sadly, the train that Mary Anne was on broke down, so she missed her flight. So she'll be arriving several hours later than planned, at a different airport. Between this and her car being stolen (though it was later recovered), she's not having such a good week.)

I keep forgetting to post an entry saying how cool Le Guin is.

I started reading her recent short story collection The Birthday of the World shortly before WisCon. Read the first three and a half stories, and adored all of them.

Just realized that last night that I'd never finished the fourth story in the book, so I read the rest of it, and adored that too. She's always been one of my favorite writers, but some of her recent work is even better than her older work that I've always loved.

She does occasionally veer into heavy-handed polemic. I liked aspects of The Telling, but it felt a little bit too simplistic to me overall.

But mostly she's just great.

Unfortunately, I didn't talk with her at WisCon. I didn't have anything to say to her other than "I love your work!", and she appeared to be hearing even more of that at WisCon than I imagine she usually does. It's worth saying, but I always feel silly saying it.

I also skipped two opportunities to see her this past week; she was reading in the East Bay and in San Francisco, but getting to either place on a weekday evening is a big pain, and her planes-traveling stories (which I gather are what she was reading) are not my favorites.

I'm actually in the middle of two of her short-story collections: The Birthday of the World and Tales from Earthsea. I find that I can't read too many of her stories in a row; they're too rich. I need to pause and assimilate what I've read. And I need to have the time and awakeness to focus on them completely; they take more of my attention than a lot of other fiction does. But that just means I get to enjoy the books for longer. After I get through these two, The Other Wind is waiting.

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I very rarely say that I have a favorite in any category (music, books, food, etc.), but if I have a favorite SF writer, it's Le Guin. I love her essays, too, and that she's willing to say that she's changed her mind about an issue (e.g. her essay on gender from The Language of the Night which she rewrote in Dancing at the Edge of the World).

I've yet to see her at a reading or anything like that, but I haven't given up hope that it will happen someday. *grin*


I had the fortune of attending some of Ursala's panels and discussions at Wiscon this year, especially great was her writer's respite with Molly Gloss - lots of fun.

She also sat next to me at a reading by John Kessel and co. I thought it was extremely cool that she did the following things.

1. Attended Wiscon as "just" another pro.

2. Not only was a part of a number of great panels and discussions, but also offered to sign books not once but twice!

3. Attended other panels and generally seemed to participate and enjoy the conference, I certainly saw her at not just many panels, but also at many of the parties in the evenings - pretty cool.

A few of her books and essay collections are high up on my current "to read" stack.


I can see how the "Planar" stories might not seem as attractive as the rest of her work, but I was quite happy with the one she read at Cody's on Monday (sorry, blanking on the title right now). Visiting a culture whose members speak less and less as they approach adulthood, it had some nice moments of humor and poignancy and makes an interesting companion piece to the Hainish Universe story "Solitude" in THE BIRTHDAY OF THE WORLD.

"Solitude", by the way, is has been one of my most-thought-about stories since I first read it. I'm especially curious about whether it can be interpreted as a slantwise self-critique by Le Guin.


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