Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Excerpts I liked from the le Guin Interview

Q: Nicholas Lezard has written 'Rowling can type, but Le Guin can write.' What do you make of this comment in the light of the phenomenal success of the Potter books? I'd like to hear your opinion of JK Rowling's writing style.

UKL: I have no great opinion of it. When so many adult critics were carrying on about the "incredible originality" of the first Harry Potter book, I read it to find out what the fuss was about, and remained somewhat puzzled; it seemed a lively kid's fantasy crossed with a "school novel", good fare for its age group, but stylistically ordinary, imaginatively derivative, and ethically rather mean-spirited.

Q: How do you view that countercultural movement these days, as the boomers grow old (and wise?). With hindsight - what was its upside, and downside? Do you still share that brand of idealism (if you ever did), or have your hopes and visions morphed into a different shape?

UKL: I liked the generosity and the sense of responsibility towards the future that were strong in the sixties and seventies. They are strong again, now, among people in the Green and anti-corporation movements, the anti-war and anti-Bush movements. A lot of people don't get wise as they get old, they just get old.

Q: My brothers and I felt 'included' when we read the Earthsea books. We were black children growing up in Britain in the 1970s and we perceived very early on that books like Lord of the Rings or Dune (as much as we loved them) didn't really 'include' us - indeed, they felt exclusive. You describe Ged as being dark-skinned, and my brothers and I have argued for years over whether he was black or not.

UKL: I see Ged as dark brownish-red, and all the other people in the book (except the Kargs and Serret) as brown or brown-red, to very dark or black (Vetch). In other words, in the Archipelago "people of color" are the norm, white people are an anomaly. Vice versa on the Kargish islands. That much is pretty clear in the books. How dark you want Ged to be is pretty much up to you! Why not? Readers rule, OK? But what drives me up the wall is cover illustrators - trying to get them not to make everybody white, white, white. Did you ever see the very first English edition of A Wizard of Earthsea? It was a Puffin paperback, I think. I was really excited about it - I think it was my first English publication - until I saw it. The Ged on the cover was this marshmallow-colored guy drooping like a lily in a sort of nightgown. Oh Lord! I think most white people have failed to notice that most of the people in most of my SF and fantasy are not white people. So. What else is new?

Q: Do you pronounce your name the French way or, as most of your fans do, Luh Gwinn?

UKL: Een zees country we say Luh Gwinn. En France nous disons Le Guin, comme le vin or le gain; et en Bretagne - c'est un nom breton - je crois que c'est encore Luh Gwinn. (Like Gwyn in Welsh - I think it's the same word.) It is all my husband's fault, anyhow.

UKL: I think you will find some discussion of this on my website ( Briefly, what happened in the 17 years between Farthest Shore and Tehanu was that feminism was reborn, and I became 17 years older, and learned a good deal. One of the things I learned was how to write as a woman, not as an honorary, or imitation, man.

From a woman's point of view, Earthsea looked quite different than it did from a man's point of view. All I had to do was describe it from the point of view of the powerless, the disempowered - women, children, a wizard who has spent his gift and must live as an "ordinary" man. The same place, but how changed it seems! Some people hate the book for that. They scold me for punishing Ged. I think I was rewarding him.

Yahoo's At It Again

First they brought SPAM, now this:

"Yahoo is now using something called, "Web Beacons" to track Yahoo Group users around the Net and see what you're doing and where you are going - similar to cookies.

Take a look at their updated privacy statement at:

About half-way down the page, in the section "Outside the Yahoo! Network", you'll see a little blue colored, "click here" link that will let you "opt out" of their new method of snooping. I strogngly recommend that you do this.

Once you have clicked that link, you are opted out Notice the "Success" message the top the next page. Be careful here..., because on that page, there's a "Cancel Opt-out" button, just below it, that if clicked, will *undo* the opt-out. Tricky, tricky..., huh...? Feel free to forward this to other groups.


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