From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Happy Birthday to Ursula K. Le Guin!

October 21, 2009 marks the 80th writer of fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin. Her Earthsea series – A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore and Tehanu — was a gateway drug for many a fantasy reader at an early age. So many happy returns to her, and may there be many more!

For me favorite Le Guin works include The Lathe of Heaven (and a nice BBC production of it that appeared in the late 80s, early 90s). I love the keen anthropological eye Le Guin brings to her writing, particularly The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, and I’ve seen them used in political science and gender studies classrooms with happy results. In her collection The Compass Rose, the story of the acacia seeds always makes me cry and exult at the same time, while Changing Planes gives anything Italo Calvino has written a run for its money.

So what do you want to say to Le Guin on her birthday? What are the Le Guin books that you particularly love and why? What do you look forward to next in her writing? What others authors might you recommend for Le Guin lovers?