October 2, 2016

Dancing at the Edge of the World

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Hard to find #ursulakleguin 's non-fiction, but a first visit last November to @powellsbooks gave it up tout de suite! (NFPL doesn't tend to use online sources.) Well worth the wait, to read the thoughtful, antic, righteous mind behind her elaborate science-fictional constructs. Le Guin has consistently used her world-building to imagine a greater sense of social justice at work in civilization and its governance. A thoroughgoing notion of protest runs throughout her oeuvre. 'The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction' borrows Elizabeth Fisher's idea that women invented culture, to postulate the novel as a medicine bundle, and the universe as a "bag of stars." Collectively, her essays damn patriarchy to its eventual end: 'Is Gender Necessary? Redux' considers the perils of misogyny, particularly for the constrained and constraining societies males have built at great cost – and which are now thankfully, though tragically, crumbling. Does it feel like we're at the edge of something right now?

-Nicholas Frank