Words Wednesday: Ursula Le Guin

It’s another Words Wednesday! Today we’re featuring an Ursula Le Guin quote.

Ursula Le Guin quote graphic - The Dispossessed

This Ursula Le Guin quote comes from The Dispossessed: An Ambigious Utopia.

The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin

Published in 1974, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (frequently called just The Dispossessed) is an allegorical tale set in a dystopian future. Set in the same world as her earlier work The Left Hand of Darkness, this novel covers themes like capitalism, anarchy, freedom, and individualism.

Upon publication, The Dispossessed won a handful of prestigious science fiction awards:

  • Nebula Award for Best Novel (1974)
  • Hugo Award (1975)
  • Locus Award (1975)
  • Nominee for John W. Campbell Memorial Award (1975)

In fact, Le Guin is the first person to have won both a Nebula award and a Hugo award for the same book twice (once for The Left Hand of Darkness and again for The Dispossessed).

A science fiction writeror just a writer?

Many people believe that Ursula Le Guin is not given the credit she’s due, something that she herself has attributed to being a genre writer (and a woman). Even though she’s often called a “science fiction writer,” she upended the norms of science fiction writing in 1969 with her fourth novel The Left Hand of Darkness. 

Although she often writes about future times, extraterrestrial creatures, and outer space, Le Guin’s works have a sense of humanity and psychology that many hard sci-fi novels don’t.

Le Guin herself famously resists the label of science fiction writer:

I don’t think science fiction is a very good name for it, but it’s the name that we’ve got. It is different from other kinds of writing, I suppose, so it deserves a name of its own. But where I can get prickly and combative is if I’m just called a sci-fi writer. I’m not. I’m a novelist and poet. Don’t shove me into your damn pigeonhole, where I don’t fit, because I’m all over. My tentacles are coming out of the pigeonhole in all directions.

In 2014, Le Guin won the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Watch her famous acceptance speech:

Le Guin also recently earned the honor of having “The Complete Orsinia” published by the Library of America, a distinction few living authors are ever bestowed.

Ursula Le Guin quote

“There’s a point, around age twenty, when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life, or to make a virtue of your peculiarities.”

-Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia

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