Ursula Le Guin turns 85 today. She has been my favourite author for a very long time, not just because she tells great stories and writes excellent, thought-provoking essays but because she is so skilled at doing so, in an understated way: she makes complexity seem deceptively easy. I still remember reading the lastish book in a series and delightedly hopping up and down saying to my partner, “She took everything she set up in the first book and turned it inside out!”
And she’s funny.
“I am a man. Now you may think I’ve made some kind of silly mistake about gender, or maybe that I’m trying to fool you, because my first name ends in a, and I own three bras, and I’ve been pregnant five times, and other things like that that you might have noticed, little details. …I admit it, I am actually a very poor imitation or substitute man, and you could see it when I tried to wear those army surplus clothes with ammunition pockets that were trendy and I looked like a hen in a pillowcase. ”