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It’s not Jung’s, it’s mine

Colin Burrow: Language-Magic, 21 January 2021

Ursula K. Le GuinThe Last Interview and Other Conversations 
edited by David Streitfeld.
Melville House, 180 pp., £12.99, February 2019, 978 1 61219 779 1
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The Carrier Bag Theory Of Fiction 
by Ursula K. Le Guin.
Ignota, 42 pp., £4.99, November 2019, 978 1 9996759 9 8
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... elsewhere?’SF sometimes poses that kind of question. But in the hands of an author like Ursula Le Guin, science fiction ‘isn’t really about the future’, as she put it in The Last Interview. ‘It’s about the present.’ It changes one or two structuring facts about the world as it is and asks: ‘What ...

Mares and Stallions

Tom Wilkie, 18 May 1989

Games, Sex and Evolution 
by John Maynard Smith.
Harvester, 264 pp., £14.95, August 1988, 0 7108 1216 7
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... have seriously explored what life would be like in a sexless but otherwise human society, although Ursula Le Guin, in her very effective Science Fiction novel The Left Hand of Darkness has tried to do so. Whether consciously or not, Ms Le Guin set the action of her novel on a planet where ...

All hail the microbe

Lavinia Greenlaw: Things Pile Up, 18 June 2020

Footprints: In Search of Future Fossils 
by David Farrier.
Fourth Estate, 307 pp., £16.99, March, 978 0 00 828634 7
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... not the fixed points we might take them for. In a chapter on the plastic bottle, Farrier invokes Ursula Le Guin, whose ‘Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction’ adapts a concept from the American anthropologist Elizabeth Fisher: that the first real ‘cultural device’ was not a weapon or a tool but a container. As Le ...

Utopia in Texas

Glen Newey: Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’, 19 January 2017

Utopia 
by Thomas More, edited by George M. Logan, translated by Robert M. Adams.
Cambridge, 141 pp., £9.99, August 2016, 978 1 107 56873 0
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Utopia 
by Thomas More, translated by Gilbert Burnet.
Verso, 216 pp., £8.99, November 2016, 978 1 78478 760 8
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... divine Gilbert Burnet with an introduction by China Miéville and a series of concluding essays by Ursula Le Guin. Miéville decks More in punk garb while arguing, plausibly, that capitalism by its nature rules out effective curbs on anthropogenic environmental catastrophe and, less plausibly, that the latter has nothing to ...

How many times?

Nicole Flattery: Catherine Lacey, 16 July 2020

Pew 
by Catherine Lacey.
Granta, 207 pp., £12.99, May, 978 1 78378 517 9
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... seem redundant. Pew is less playful than this earlier work and wears its influences, including Ursula Le Guin and Flannery O’Connor, heavily. Pew is like O’Connor in the way a Netflix Shirley Jackson adaptation is like Shirley Jackson – which is to say not very – and its failings are only made more obvious by the ...

Outfoxing Hangman

Thomas Jones: David Mitchell, 11 May 2006

Black Swan Green 
by David Mitchell.
Sceptre, 371 pp., £16.99, May 2006, 0 340 82279 1
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... Flaubert, Hesse or Kafka – the most ‘impressive’ names on his bookshelf are Isaac Asimov, Ursula Le Guin and John Wyndham – but at a village meeting to discuss what to do about a proposed Gypsy campsite, he reflects that ‘the villagers wanted the Gypsies to be gross, so the grossness of what they’re not acts ...

Then You Are Them

Fredric Jameson: Atwood, 10 September 2009

The Year of the Flood 
by Margaret Atwood.
Bloomsbury, 434 pp., £18.99, September 2009, 978 0 7475 8516 9
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... book not the expression of an ideological doctrine? In a post-feminist age, whose great writers (Ursula Le Guin, Toni Morrison, Christa Wolf) are not women writers but just writers, Atwood does not easily fit some category labelled feminist: The Robber Bride, whose male figures are mostly not even violent but simply inept ...

Making a Break

Terry Eagleton: Fredric Jameson’s Futures, 9 March 2006

Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions 
by Fredric Jameson.
Verso, 431 pp., £20, September 2005, 1 84467 033 3
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... His grandly panoptic method, ranging from Parmenides to Soviet science fiction, Leibniz to Ursula Le Guin, represents a kind of transcendence of time and space, as he himself becomes a kind of science-fiction superbrain presiding over history and pulling its shattered bits and pieces into unity. There is something ...

Kick over the Scenery

Stephanie Burt: Philip K. Dick, 3 July 2008

Four Novels of the 1960s: ‘The Man in the High Castle’, ‘The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch’, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’, ‘Ubik’ 
by Philip K. Dick.
Library of America, 830 pp., $35, May 2008, 978 1 59853 009 4
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Five Novels of the 1960s and 1970s: ‘Martian Time-Slip’, ‘Dr Bloodmoney’, ‘Now Wait for Last Year’, ‘Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said’, ‘A Scanner Darkly’ 
by Philip K. Dick.
Library of America, 1128 pp., $40, August 2008, 978 1 59853 025 4
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... became the CIA. Tiptree won over SF’s feminists in the 1970s – both the irenic ones such as Ursula K. Le Guin and radicals such as Joanna Russ – even while other readers felt sure that Tiptree was a man. Sheldon held Dick’s writing in higher regard than he held it himself, though she did not take him up on his ...

1984 and ‘1984’

Randolph Quirk, 16 February 1984

... presuppositions in language that angers the feminist Utopian novelists like Esmé Dodderidge, Ursula Le Guin or Marge Piercy. Significantly, on the very first page of 1985, the point is made that nobody can be held responsible: not even for the obstetric maltreatment which has resulted in Bev’s child being ...

Making poison

Patrick Parrinder, 20 March 1986

The Handmaid’s Tale 
by Margaret Atwood.
Cape, 324 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 224 02348 9
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... message is likely to be. After the excitement generated a few years ago by the feminist utopias of Ursula Le Guin, Marge Piercy and Joanna Russ, the appearance of a female dystopia by a writer as eminent as Margaret Atwood will itself be seen as a literary-political event, perhaps even as a breaking of the ranks. Certainly ...

Sheeped

Julian Loose, 30 January 1992

The Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Alfred Birnbaum.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 241 13144 8
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... Gibson. Similarly, Murakami’s fantasy narrative is more reminiscent of the elegant allegories of Ursula le Guin than the sword and sorcery adventures of, say, Anne McCaffrey. In the parallel story, the city’s burly Gatekeeper tells the newcomer that his allotted task is to ‘read’ dreams: to trace with his fingertips ...

Diary

Emily Witt: Burning Man, 17 July 2014

... wondered how dinosaurs had overtaken them in the popular imagination. We talked about Narnia and Ursula Le Guin, an anarchist and a polyamorist. He told me that when she was a child, her family had sheltered the last Native American in California living outside modern culture, who had wandered one day from the forest into ...

Not No Longer but Not Yet

Jenny Turner: Mark Fisher’s Ghosts, 9 May 2019

k-punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher 
edited by Darren Ambrose.
Repeater, 817 pp., £25, November 2018, 978 1 912248 28 5
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... are short and slim, and much of their content is crafted from pieces tried out on Fisher’s blog, k-punk, on which he wrote, sometimes daily, from 2003.‘Contemporary culture has eliminated both the concept of the public and the figure of the intellectual,’ Zero’s manifesto stated, but ‘another kind of discourse – intellectual without being ...

The Magic Bloomschtick

Colin Burrow: Harold Bloom, 21 November 2019

The American Canon: Literary Genius from Emerson to Pynchon 
by Harold Bloom, edited by David Mikics.
Library of America, 426 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 1 59853 640 9
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... expression of the homogeneous Emersonian mind of ‘our’ nation. The rocklike reflectiveness of Ursula Le Guin and the ‘deep subjectivity’ of Elizabeth Bishop are evoked with a real warmth. When Bloom considers a poem at length, as he does Marianne Moore’s extraordinary poem ‘Marriage’, he often takes you places ...

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