Ursula K. Le Guin, the Portland literary legend behind such groundbreaking works of science fiction and fantasy as The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, died January 22 at age 88. The response was swift and deeply felt, with writers from Margaret Atwood to Neil Gaiman to Stephen King hailing her influence on oft-maligned literary genres, as well as her strong-minded feminist stance.
Le Guin was outspoken well into her later life: at the 2014 National Book Awards, she denounced Amazon and even her own publishers for ignorance and greed, and in 2016 she blasted the Oregonian for giving a mouthpiece to the Malheur militia. Back in 2015, when we profiled the author, she spoke about growing bolder with age: “As you get old as a woman, you do lose certain inhibitions. It’s just like, ‘Oh, what the hell? I’m an old woman, and who listens to old women?’ On the other hand,” she added with a smile, “it gives you a sort of freedom.”
In Oregon, the tributes poured out as well, with writers, musicians, and politicians all paying honor to one of our state's greatest talents.
Truly one of our greats, a hero, a feminist, a poet, a writer, a beautiful person. A sad day. https://t.co/chzR58Vq0u— Rene Denfeld (@ReneDenfeld) January 23, 2018
Such a loss for Oregon and the entire literary community. Ursula was a trailblazer, writing strong female characters and bringing sophistication to sci-fi storytelling. She will be missed. https://t.co/rsatooKnLJ— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) January 24, 2018
In awe that Ursula K. Le Guin started writing fantasy because she couldn't get her previous five novels published. FIVE. This is exactly what I try to tell my writing students: the great ones don't stop. #inspiration https://t.co/q5v0Tn5HaC— Diana Abujaber (@dabujaber) January 24, 2018
Ursula, thank you for being not only an exemplary Portlander but also a pioneering artist and a defining American Novelist of our time. You will be sorely missed. https://t.co/Pl59tpFKVe— Ted Wheeler (@tedwheeler) January 23, 2018
Thank you, Ms. Le Guin.— Kelly Sue Demonic (@kellysue) January 23, 2018
We're devastated to hear that Ursula K. Le Guin—our contributor, friend, neighbor, role-model, and one of the great American writers—passed away yesterday. Our thoughts are with her family and everyone else touched by her life and work. https://t.co/uZqJTt8WmI— Tin House (@Tin_House) January 23, 2018
There is a dragon’s hoard of treasure stored in her books. Read them. https://t.co/0iTrHo08KA— Benjamin Percy (@Benjamin_Percy) January 23, 2018
Gutted to hear that Ursula has died. She was a powerhouse. A true Cascadian. Rest in power, Ms Le Guin. https://t.co/EG41UOVJwT— colin meloy (@colinmeloy) January 23, 2018
My lifelong literary companion Ursula The Goddess Le Guin has flown into the ether. I will miss her wise wonderings. Here is a poem from her latest book:— Jenny Conlee (@ConleeJenny) January 24, 2018
Untongued I turn to still
forgetting all I will.
Light lies the shadow
on the way I go.https://t.co/QkMIYSSOty
We have lost an elder.— Mo Daviau (@modaviau) January 23, 2018
Stop what you’re doing and read these stories out loud to your families. pic.twitter.com/ZAEFYkAzYs— Chelsea Cain (@ChelseaCain) January 24, 2018