“How should we remember Ursula Kroeber Le Guin? Together,” Nisi Shawl writes. Like many others of Ursula’s friends and readers after her death, I wanted to honor her memory. I don’t think I’d ever worked and written as hard as I did that week, but I wanted to do something, and it seemed like the work I had to do. From me and others, I’ve collected a few of the many tributes to her life and art.
I was interviewed for the radio by WYNC’s Brooke Gladstone, who did a beautiful piece on Ursula’s life and on how her work “cuts to the heart of gender, politics, morality, and what it means to live and to die.”
On the Library of America website, along with tributes from Zadie Smith, Michael Chabon, Nalo Hopkinson, Elaine Showalter, Gary K. Wolfe, and others, I wrote about my first meeting with Ursula, when I was in college. It’s a pretty typical first-meeting-with-Ursula story: I was young and dumb, and she was kind and offered me a new way of seeing.
Ursula’s friend and webmaster, Vonda N. McIntyre, has been collecting tributes on ursulakleguin.com. Here are just a few:
“To enter her books is an extraordinary experience: it is to learn something about yourself that you did not know, it is to feel you are about to discover your place in the world….[In person as well as in her work she was] a union of opposites: tiny and fragile, but with an indomitable personality; humble and generous, but with the pride of one who is aware of her talent; poetic and light as a breath of air, but with a demolishing intellectual capacity. She aspired to serenity and illuminated the shadows with a fine sense of humor. ” —Rosa Montero (in Spanish)
“The fact that we may have no conscious experience (or knowledge) of something right now does not mean we can never become conscious of it under the right future circumstances….Le Guin was always able to imagine (and evoke) states of mind and soul that were not her own.”
“[For] nonwhite writers of fantasy, horror and science fiction….she was our best and most powerful ally. She made our presence in her stories a matter of course.” —Nisi Shawl
“I want to see Ursula Le Guin described for future generations, and for ourselves, as a destroyer of common myths, as a fighter against hierarchical horseshit, as a radical, as a maker of worlds…” —Maria Dahvana Headley
“When i wondered if imagination could be necessary for revolution and transformation, you said yes, you said our dreams and visions matter, they are the way we make oppression temporary.” —Adrienne Maree Brown
“Write what you want to write. Add as many dragons as you like.” —Karen Joy Fowler