Reader Jane Sand can’t believe I didn’t care for Ursula Le Guin’s story that appeared in Playboy:
Really, WHY are you flipping through this story with your fingers covering your eyes, peeking through only long enough to find a paragraph that offends you, instead of reading the story straight through and giving it your positive or negative review as a whole, like an ordinary reviewer would? Are you prudishly frightened that a story published in Playboy might offend your delicate sensibilities? Or maybe what you’re REALLY frightened of is that if you read the story, you might *gasp* LIKE it, or at least find some virtue in it that you would hate to publicly admit? Think it over, dude.
I don’t think this is fair at all.
Of course I read the story before commenting on it. And no, I really did not like it. This really shouldn’t be that hard to believe.
- Ursula Le Guin had no interest in writing for men at all.
- She was concerned less with quality writing and more with the sex of the person that wrote it.
- She explicitly tore down the exemplars of the fantasy and science fiction canon.
Judging from the comments on Twitter in the week following her death, it appears that her fan base is more excited by her antisocial behavior and her overall destructive impact on the field of science fiction and fantasy than anything she wrote.
But if you’d like one more reason why I have no use for her, consider this passage from her story, “Nine Lives”:
“Do you come from Ireland, Owen?”
“Nobody comes from Ireland, Zayin.”
“There are lots of Irish-Americans.”
“To be sure, but no more Irish. A couple of thousand in all the island, the last I knew. They didn’t go in for birth control, you know, so the food ran out. By the Third Famine there were no Irish left at all but the priesthood, and they all celibate, or nearly all.”
Zayin and Kaph smiled stiffly. They had no experience of either bigotry or irony.
This is not the first time I’ve come across a science fiction story from this period that depicts Christians as being responsible for the apocalypse or some such. But it really is impressive how crass Le Guin manages to be here.
Really, it’s just plain ugly.