About Ursula K. Le Guin


Born: 21 October 1929

Died: 22 January 2018


Ursula Le Guin was a writer, a small word for someone who made a such a large impact on the sensibilities of the World. Officially her genre was science fiction; but, like all great writers, her oeuvre is not definable by a single label. You can read more about the author on her Wikipedia page and on her own official website.


Of her many books, two have been adapted for film. The 1980 film adaptation of The Lathe of Heaven was an outstanding effort, both true to the original book and cinematically impressive. It is a must-see for everyone. Do not confuse it with the 2002 adaptation, Lathe of Heaven, which is much less impressive. This version fails to recognise the undercurrent of Daoist mysticism that informs the book, and offers a very “flat” version of the story. Not recognising the significance of the definite article in the title is symptomatic of the failures in this film.


The 2006 Tales from Earthsea animated film was also somewhat disappointing for fans of Le Guin’s stories. The Japanese development team at Studio Ghibli, incredibly effective at transferring Japanese myths and stories to the screen, did not really understand the ethos of the Earthsea stories. The resulting film told a story similar to that of Le Guin’s Earthsea books, but too alien to be Le Guin’s story. It remains an interesting presentation, but it is not really representative of Le Guin’s work – although the Earthsea books themselves are central to her canon.


Many of Le Guin’s books have been adapted for the radio, and it is here that her power of description works most effectively. You can check out more about Le Guin on the Radio at Ursula Le Guin at 85.


Le Guin’s incisive understanding of the humans in her story makes her work more than just another set of tales told. She is missed by many; but her mind lives on in her work, there for new explorers of outer, inner, and human space to discover.