Hiatus and Witch Week

I really do need to take a break from my small kernel of internet activities. I need to find a paying job for financial and health reasons. I shall return in the near future, hopefully when I’ve been successful in finding employment.

Whatever my web presence (or absence), I will be taking part in the Diana Wynne Jones inspired  ‘Witch Week‘ reading of Ursula K Le Guin‘s Earthsea novel “The Other Wind‘.

Take care everybody!

 

Puffin "Earthsea Quartet" cover. Copyright David Borgen / Puffin books.
Puffin “Earthsea Quartet” cover. Copyright David Borgen / Puffin books.

 

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RIP UKLG

I’m currently knee deep in supply teaching work and trying to work on the Earth Balm Music material, learning much about the limitless possibilities of music software and my limited abilities on the piano keyboard on the way. I have a day’s break today and just as well because I feel compelled to post about the passing of the great Ursula K Le Guin. The news has finally made up my mind for me – she is my favourite author of all that I have read (and she is in some high calibre company with Rosemary Sutcliff, Joan Aiken, Susan Cooper, Philippa Pearce etc.). Her characters are so well developed, her books explore ideas about social systems and politics so subtly and she handles big plot moments so delicately. I’m about to radically thin out my book collection and I’m keeping all of my UKLG books as I know I’ll only regret losing them if I pass them on. Please, let her be known as more than just a science fiction / fantasy author because she was so much more.

Ursula_K_Le_Guin
Photograph of author Ursula K Le Guin. Source Wikipedia, credit Gorthian.

Here is a quote from Ursula’s Wikipedia page:

Le Guin exploits the creative flexibility of the science fiction and fantasy genres to undertake thorough explorations of dimensions of both social and psychological identity and of broader cultural and social structures. In doing so, she draws on sociology, anthropology, and psychology leading some critics to categorize her work as soft science fiction. She objected to this classification of her writing, arguing the term is divisive and implies a narrow view of what constitutes valid science fiction. Underlying ideas of anarchism and environmentalism also make repeated appearances throughout Le Guin’s work

UKLG notes

Thanks to calmgrove, I’m seriously considering a series of pictures (and perhaps music) inspired by the writings of Ursula K Le Guin. I thought I might share some of the notes I’ve been taking from “A Wizard of Earthsea“. Apologies for the untidiness, handwriting never was my forte.

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Picture of vocabulary from “Wizard of Earthsea”. Copyright Ursula K Le Guin.

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Also, this from the UKLG website, looks fascinating (though, as always, I’m somewhat late for the party): https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/arwencurry/worlds-of-ursula-k-le-guin

Keyboard

I’ve not had a working keyboard for my Mac for a fortnight (my own fault as I cleaned the old one with a wet wipe and messed up the underside of the keys). Now I have a cheap Windows keyboard which works well enough for me, I’m back on the inter web.

I finished “Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell” and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve also begun reading Ursula K LeGuin’s “The Dispossessed” which is one of the most intelligent novels I have ever read (IMHO) and sure to become my most favourite adult novel. It seems to me that in Shevek’s struggling to complete his theory of Simultaneity that UKLG is trying to finalise her ideas about “anarchy” and “archy.”

Good to be back!

Image of the cover of "The Dispossessed" by Ursula K LeGuin. Copyright Gollancz.
Image of the cover of “The Dispossessed” by Ursula K LeGuin. Copyright Gollancz.

Last Earthsea post

I’ve nearly finished reading book five of six from the “Earthsea saga” (the last one I have to read) and I have to say that it is the one I have enjoyed the most – and it’s fairly obvious how much I’ve loved the rest!

It’s a set of short stories and an extended article about the ‘history’ of Earthsea.

“The Finder”, “Darkrose and Diamond” and “The Bones of the Earth” are wonderfully told narratives. The strangest of the three and perhaps the most beautiful in its resolution is the third. It’s also the history of the mage Ogion, that we first meet in the initial book in the series – “The Wizard of Earthsea”.

I’ve almost completed reading “On the High Marsh” and am looking forward to “Dragonfly” that serves as an introduction to “The Other Wind”.

It’s been a fantastic reading adventure that has left a lasting impression on me, given me food for thought and lots of idea for musical composition and visual artwork.

So, good value for money and time well spent!

The Word for World is Forest” will be my next purchase. It is apparently “Avatar” written before the “Avatar” film.

I must admit that I won’t miss WordPress auto-correcting the spelling of “Earthsea” to “Earths” every time I type it. 🙂

End of Earthsea

I had to read the whole of “The Other Wind” in one day. It is such a beautiful book and ties up all of the threads of the “Earthsea saga” very nicely indeed. And, you know that hackneyed thing that most authors do, where the antagonist who has been killed off twitches in the epilogue – that type of thing? She doesn’t do it!

I think, what I love most about these books and Ursula Le Guin’s writing is the stories’ climaxes. Most authors and Hollywood blockbuster films would set off the proverbial pyrotechnics. There would be ultra violent explosions, CG overdose, detailed descriptions or depictions of mutilation and death. But not UKLG. Oh no. Long plot build ups and then at the peak… the most gentle parts of the story. And often, the noble self sacrifice of a character to save everybody and everything else.

Personally, I don’t need to read books that are gritty and realistic and negative or nihilistic. There’s too much of that about already, in the media and the arts and the news. I don’t mean to sound pompous or high-brow (that I am certainly not) but I want to read tales of noble deeds and this series of books does it for me.

I hope they do it for others too.

I found this quote from UKLG on her website after I initially posted this post. It concerns assumptions that writers and publishers make about the fantasy genre:

“Assumption 3: Fantasy by definition concerns a Battle Between Good and Evil. This is the one where the cover copywriters shine. There are lots of fantasies about the Battle Between Good and Evil, the BBGE, sure. In them, you can tell the good guys from the evil guys by their white hats, or their white teeth, but not by what they do. They all behave exactly alike, with mindless and incessant violence, until the Problem of Evil is solved in a final orgy of savagery and a win for the good team.”

Here’s the page for reference;

http://www.ursulakleguin.com/SomeAssumptionsAboutFantasy.html