Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (born October 21, 1929), is an American author. While she has written novels, poetry, childen's books, and essays, she is best known for her science fiction and fantasy, which she has written in the form of novels and short stories.
First published in the 1960s, she is now regarded as one of the best science fiction authors. She has received several Hugo and Nebula awards, and was awarded the Gandalf Grand Master award in 1979 and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Award in 2003. The daughter of the anthropologist Alfred Kroeber and the writer Theodora Kroeber, Le Guin is noted for her exploration of Taoist, anarchist, feminist, psychological, and sociological themes and for her exemplary style.
Her interests in literature manifested themselves early. At the age of 11, she submitted her first story to Astounding Science Fiction (it was not accepted.) She attended Harvard University's Radcliffe College, then Columbia University, graduating with an M.A She later studied in France, where she met her husband, Charles Le Guin. Her earliest writings (little of which were published at the time, but some of which resurfaced in altered form years later in Orsinian Tales and Malafrena), were nonfantastic stories of imaginary countries. Searching for a publishable way to express her interests, she re-awakened her interest in science fiction, beginning to publish regularly in the early 1960s. She became notable with the publication of her 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness, which won the Hugo and Nebula awards.
Much of Le Guin's science fiction work is distinguished from other examples of the genre by its strong emphasis on the 'social' sciences, including sociology and anthropology. Her works often make use of unusual alien cultures to convey a message about our own culture; one example is the exploration of sexual identity via the gender-shifting natives of The Left Hand of Darkness.
Le Guin is known for her ability to create believable worlds populated by deeply human characters (regardless of whether they are technically 'human'). Her fantasy works (such as the Earthsea books) are much more focused on the human condition than are works by authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien. Le Guin has also written fiction set much closer to home; many of her short stories are set in our world in the present or the near future.
Her fiction includes:
- (The Earthsea books)
- (Novels of the Ekumen)
- The Compass Rose
- A Fisherman of the Inland Sea
- Worlds of Exile and Illusion (omnibus)
- The Wind's Twelve Quarters
- Unlocking the Air and Other Stories
- Orsinian Tales
- The Birthday of the World, HarperCollinsPublishers, 2002, Hardback, ISBN 0-06-621253-7
- Four Ways to Forgiveness (Four Stories of the Ekumen)
- The Catwings Collection
- Catwings Return
- Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings
- Jane on Her Own
- Fish Soup
- A Ride on the Red Mare's Back
- The Language of the Night
- Dancing at the Edge of the World
- Lao Tzu : Tao Te Ching, a Book about the Way & the Power of the Way (a translation and commentary)
- Steering the Craft (about writing)
- Wild Oats and Fireweed
- Going Out with Peacocks and Other Poems
Le Guin is a prolific author and has published many works that are not listed here. Many works were originally published in science fiction literary magazines. Those that have not since been anthologized have fallen into obscurity.