BBC Radio 4 has some exciting programmes scheduled in honour of Ursula Le Guin’s 85th birthday.
Thursday 9th April, Ursula Le Guin at 85
Sunday 12th April, The Left Hand of Darkness
Monday 27th April, Earthsea
We didn’t buy each other any presents this year because we spent our December budget on going away for the holidays. However, any hopes that this decision would result in less stuff entering the house were quickly dashed by the presence of secondhand bookshops in the town where we stayed.
I was very pleased to pick up Elizabeth A. Lynn’s fantasy trilogy, The Chronicles of Tornor (1979 – 80), which I mentioned in my post about her short stories. You’ll often see one of these in secondhand bookshops, but rarely all three together.
Gay’s the Word is an essential stop for us whenever we visit London. This time around, we picked up Alexis De Veaux’s Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde (2004) in the used section for £5. The used shelves also yielded up a couple of good lesbian short story collections: Anna Livia and Lilian Mohan (eds.) The Pied Piper: Lesbian Feminist Fiction (1989), which contains stories by the likes of Gillian Hanscombe, Patricia Duncker and Mary Dorcey, and Ruthann Robson’s Lambda nominated Eye of a Hurricane (1989).
Andy bought a new copy of Lolly Willows (1926) by Sylvia Townsend Warner. This is a novel about a middle-aged spinster who abandons her family responsibilities to become a witch. She also got Ash (2009) by Malinda Lo, which is a lesbian retelling of Cinderella and had the shop assistant raving. Apparently, he’s bought it for all his friends.
Here, in chronological order of publication, is a round-up of science fiction books that I’ve read over the last few months, but which I don’t feel inclined to write about at great length.
My head is wet
My head is wet
I did not want to wash my hair
or maybe not
Sometimes babies are born dead
It doesn’t matter
in the water
what I wanted or forgot
Sinister little poem from Le Guin which I saw posted on greatpoets lj.
The Left Hand of Darkness is one of my favourite books and this must be at least the fourth time I’ve read it. On its publication The Left Hand of Darkness was received as a groundbreaking piece of science fiction, winning the Nebula Award in 1969 and the Hugo Award in 1970. Compelling, atmospheric, sometimes frightening, it offers the reader some exquisite world-building and a story with profound meaning.
“Success is somebody else’s failure. Success is the American Dream we can keep dreaming because most people in most places, including thirty million of ourselves, live wide awake in the terrible reality of poverty. No, I do not wish you success. I don’t even want to talk about it. I want to talk about failure.Because you are human beings you are going to meet failure. You are going to meet disappointment, injustice, betrayal, and irreparable loss. You will find you’re weak where you thought yourself strong. You’ll work for possessions and then find they possess you. You will find yourself — as I know you already have — in dark places, alone, and afraid.
What I hope for you, for all my sisters and daughters, brothers and sons, is that you will be able to live there, in the dark place. To live in the place that our rationalizing culture of success denies, calling it a place of exile, uninhabitable, foreign.”
– Ursula K. Le Guin