Le Guin, best-selling science fiction author, dies

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USA fantasy and science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin died on Monday at her home in Portland, Oregon, her family confirmed Tuesday. Le Guin's first published novel was the relatively straightforward SF fantasy Rocannon's World in 1966, and between then and her final book, 2017's appropriately-titled non-fiction collection No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, she published in the region of 70 titles.

Le Guin lamented the fact that she had to fight for recognition in the science fiction genre because of her gender, telling the LA Review of Books: "For a woman, any literary award, honours, notice of any sort has been an uphill climb".

"You're supposed to start out writing autobiographical novels and stuff, but for me that's the really hard and scary stuff - is getting anything personal in", Le Guin told Wachtel.

In 1953 she married Charles Le Guin, a historian.

"She was a very political and socially savvy writer, and these gave her imaginative spaces in which to explore different ways in which human beings can relate to each other".

John Scalzi, former president of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, just wrote, "God damn it".

She was born on October 21, 1929, in Berkeley, California and later settled in Portland, Oregon in the northwestern United States. He told The New York Times that her mother had been in poor health for several months. She said, (reading) where I can get prickly and combative is if I'm just called a sci-fi writer.

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The literary world has been quick to express the feeling of loss in Le Guin's passing and celebrate the author's legacy.

Le Guin strongly urged publishers and writers not to put too much emphasis on profits and focus only on the writing. In 1969, Le Guin published "A Wizard of Earthsea", the first volume in a beloved fantasy trilogy for young adults.

Reacting to news of her death, USA horror author Stephen King paid tribute to Le Guin as "one of the greats".

Ursula K Le Guin in 2010.

Le Guin pointed out that her essays, written between 2010 and 2016, lack the political and moral weight of Saramago's; her topics are more personal - old age, literature, feminism, food banks and education, interspersed with stories about her cat, Pard. She was the recipient of a National Book Award, a Hugo, and a Nebula Award. Despite many of her protagonists being men, Le Guin has always considered herself a feminist, but was always confident in questioning societal conditioning and how it has impacted the human perspective on gender and sexuality. Their third installment, "The Farthest Shore", received the National Book Award for children's literature.

By the 1990s, the writer was still imaging radical inventions, but also weaving into her stories more nuanced explorations of sexuality and gender.