I’ve loved Ursula K. Le Guinn’s writing ever since I first read The Wizard of Earthsea over a decade ago. Since then I’ve continued to be awed and moved by her books, worlds of fantasy or science fiction, both adult and young adult. Her work has moved me time and time again.
I didn’t know she that she published a blog (which she started in her eighties), but as No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters — a compilation of her posts — shows, she approached the task with wit and wisdom.
In her introduction, Karen Joy Fowler says, “What you will find in these pages here is a more casual Le Guin, a Le Guin at home.” Many of these essays deal with the personal — the act of growing old or the adventures of her cat Pard. I found myself moved by the insights Le Guin had to share, delightedly laughing at her sense of humor (her essay “Would You Please Fucking Stop?” on the use of cursing in literature had me rolling), or thoughtfully considering her point of view.
“It can be very hard to believe that one is actually eighty years old, but as they say, you’d better believe it. I’ve known clear-headed, clear-hearted people in their nineties. They didn’t think they were young. They knew, with a patient, canny clarity, how old they were. If I’m ninety and believe I’m forty-five, I’m headed for a very bad time trying to get out of the bathtub.’ (from “The Sissy Strikes Back”)
In addition to the personal, her essays look at a variety of topics, from the literary world to examinations of exorcisms, the idea male group solidarity, utopias, fashion in solider uniforms and more.
Le Guin made good use of the casual blog format well (although she dislikes the word itself, saying it sounded like “a sodden tree trunk in a bog, or maybe an obstruction in the nasal passage”) — the format giving her space to dive in to a topic as extensively or briefly as she wanted. It’s a wonderful collection.
“The fantastic tale may suspend the laws of physics — carpets fly; cats fade into invisibility, leaving only a smile — and of probability—the youngest of three brothers always wins the bride; the infant in the box cast upon the waters survives unharmed — but it carries its revolt against reality no further. Mathematical order is unquestioned. Two and one make three, in Koschei’s castle and Alice’s Wonderland (especially in Wonderland). . . . Otherwise incoherence would invade and paralyze the narrative.’ ( from “It Doesn’t Have to Be the Way It Is”)
No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin was nominated for Best Related Work. All my Hugo related posts are under the 2018 Hugos tag and you can check out the complete list of nominated creators and works here.