Hi, this is Sarah, and I’m sorry we’re late again, but my eye has been doing weird stuff, so I had to have a pretty thorough exam to make sure I wasn’t going to need surgery.
This week, several people have sent me links to this Ursula Le Guin appearance.
This made me think of something. My paternal grandmother was a wonderful woman, whom I credit both with my being more or less sane, and with my storytelling. Between the ages of one and six, she told me a story every night, usually involving werewolves or magic, stories she made up herself. Until much later than that I was her shadow, following in her footsteps. In a way, I still am.
Imagine my surprise when I went back after getting married, shortly after she turned eighty and the family tried to gently give me a hint something was not right. What was not right was, in point of fact, scary.
You see, grandma grew up in very different times. So, when she passed one of the local (illegal, this is Portugal) dumps, returning from the field where she went to cut grass for the rabbits, she would notice “perfectly good, just need a little mending” baby clothes. She’d taken to rescuing them, bringing them home, washing them a million times, sewing any holes, and stacking them in her built in cabinets in the downstairs hall. The cabinets, which were floor to ceiling were almost full. No one could convince her that she wouldn’t, sooner or later, be besieged by a lot of new mothers with nothing to put on their kids. The idea that onesies and baby socks had become more or less disposable simply wouldn’t enter her head.
While visiting and talking to her, other things emerged – like she was afraid of the “wave of crime” sweeping the country. There really was no wave of crime, but she lived alone and she read the papers and watched TV news too much. Worse, for a woman who’d always been sharp enough to look behind the story she was told, she’d started giving credence to the sort of tabloids that publish stories about women the next county over giving birth to snakes.
Since then, I’ve seen other people go that way. It is a combination, I think, of aging and losing touch with the world, and of being too respected for people to actually have a word with, quietly.
I read and enjoyed the Earth Sea Trilogy. (Fourth book? What fourth book? Let’s be charitable, okay?) and The Left Hand of Darkness was a beautiful if flawed work. I can’t say I’ve liked a lot more that Le Guin has done, but then most science fiction writers didn’t even write four books that I enjoyed.
So what is one to make of such statements as:
Ursula K. Le Guin gave a scorching speech at the National Book Awards on Wednesday, calling out Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and saying of capitalism “its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.”
Surely a woman praised for her learning knows the difference between a social construct like the divine right of kings and “capitalism” which is simply a name for the barter and trade humans do to survive and which, btw, is not unfettered ANYWHERE in the universe, being hemmed in by governments and regulations everywhere.
And why on Earth she’s calling out Bezos is beyond me. For allowing writers, at long last to make a buck? Who knows?
And what about this:
“We need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and production of art,” Le Guin said.
We do, of course. For instance “art” is a subjective term which applies or should apply only to works that enduringly touch the emotions of humanity across the times and changes in society. Shakespeare still touches us, for instance. That’s art.
OTOH, thinking that any government, any entity, any academic can define art is to labor under the same sort of illusion as people who believe tabloids announcing women giving birth to snakes.
Art is proven in enduring. And most art – Shakespeare, Austen – was pretty commercially successful, as well. Art is what you aim for, and hopefully it happens. But there’s no guarantees. Competent and selling is the best you can be sure of.
One could make a comment about her being out of touch and believing too much of what she’s told, but we’re not the side that derides our elders for being old. People as old and older than her have embraced the digital revolution without fear and understand that while capitalism is an awful system, it’s better than any attempts at controlling it.
Instead I choose to believe this is the equivalent of her having cabinets full of baby clothes. I’m sure she still has contributions to make in areas where she doesn’t have blind spots.
For this, OTOH there is no excuse:
The Los Angeles Times thought Le Guin “stole the show” and said she accepted and shared her award with “all the writers who were excluded from literature for so long.”
Perhaps Le Guin doesn’t realize it, but The Los Angeles Times should realize that those excluded people – like say, people whose politics don’t agree with the establishment in publishing – are finding their voice and their audience with indie publishing. You know, people who can at last speak truth to the overwhelmingly leftist power in science fiction? One hesitates to ask if The Los Angeles Times believes that women give birth to snakes over in San Diego County?
Folks, remember to tell all your writer friends to send an e-mail to [email protected] for submission guidelines.
Then, please ask them to follow the guidelines. Grrrr.
Young deceit sprouts timeless trouble.
Motherless Brys Arnsson digs himself into trouble. Bad trouble. Tricked by a troll in J.M. Ney-Grimm’s richly imagined North-lands, Brys must dig himself and his best friend back out of danger. But that requires courage . . . and self-honesty. Traits Brys lacks at depth.
A twist on a classic, The Troll’s Belt builds from humor-threaded conflict to white-knuckle suspense.
North-land spellcasters who wield excessive power transform into trolls – potent, twisted, and hungry for dominance.
Prince Kellor, cursed by a troll-witch to live as a north-bear, wrestles with the challenges of a beast’s form. He sees his childhood friend Elle as the key to his escape.
But charming Elle will be no easy task. Traversing that delicate passage between adolescence and adulthood, she struggles to balance family loyalty against her passion for music.
In this epic adventure across a stunning landscape, from cool pine forests to an icy pinnacle of basalt so real it leaves you shivering, Elle and Kellor must summon essential wisdom and grit to prevail against a troll-witch’s malice in a lethal battle of wills.
Fighting against a nightmare pales beside fighting for a dream.
Imagine Keith Richards as a life insurance agent! Janis Joplin as a butcher! Mick Jagger as an anti-abortion activist! Jimi Hendrix as a youth pastor!
Karma Putz imagines characters very similar to five rock icons whose lives took a different turn. They end up living in the suburbs, battling crabgrass and watching “Pox News.” One day, they kidnap the world’s most famous pop musician, who bears a striking resemblance to Paul McCartney, and put him on trial for “crimes against humanity.”
Things don’t go as planned
Freed from a curse, Aidan finds himself at a loss in a world that he doesn’t quite recognize. When he starts dreaming of a woman also out of time, he wonders what she has to do with his future. A witch reveals that Aidan being released from his curse might have wide-ranging consequences, including costing the woman of his dreams her life and sanity.
Dawn went into a magic sleep expecting to wake up to a prince. When a fairy bent on mischief warped the spell, she found herself transported to the world of dreams while her kingdom disappeared. She begins to wonder if she’ll ever wake up when a horse gallops through her dreams and gives her hope.
With help from unexpected sources, Aidan takes off on a mission that has killed every other person who’s attempted it. Will he meet the same fate?
Will Aidan be able to find the missing kingdom in time to save the dreaming princess?
Rashali, a widowed Urdai peasant, has vowed to destroy the Sazars who conquered her land. Eruz, heir to the Sazar throne, walks the dangerous edge of treason to do what is right for all the people of Urdaisunia. When Rashali and Eruz meet by chance, the gods take notice, sending peasant and prince on intertwining paths of danger, love, and war as they fight to save the land they both love – Urdaisunia.